Jan Nauta
Diploma 10

21st century Welfare: Labour Exchange®

Labour Exchange® provides an alternative to the corporate mechanisms that currently shape our community centers. By anticipating current events, it proposes a composite urban strategy that uses with mechanisms of engagement & control in relationship to work.

The Employment Core is a horizontal linear building situated in the Crossrail red zone ion between Sainsbury’s and the Idea Store. The building partially adapts the existing urban cores and inserts a new physical structure, hereby creating a third institutional space. A micro economy is established with expert knowledge on both employment as well as on training.

The re-assessment of Whitechapel’s potential resources, led to the activation of existing spaces of work, knowledge, display, connection and consumption, creating a network for exchange that expands the architectural construct into its urban territory.

Generating its structure from the real as well as the planned condition of the identified territory, Labour Exchange® advocates for a curatorial approach to urbanism. It consists of 3 major components: an Employment Core, the Exchange® Network and a Right to Work. 

Assessing the resources of Whitechapel.Challenging the existing employment and rewarding structures in Tower HamletsThe project is structured according to the three major components of the project:

- Right to work 
- Employment core
- Exchange network
The Core adapts the lobby of Sainsbury’s as information and entry space; it transforms its parking deck into timetabled shared start-up offices; it introduces an urban reception that includes an event space to be curated by Labour exchange in collaboration with the Idea Store; it inserts a training and consultancy space that is accessible only through the two existing institutions and it adapts numerous spaces in the Idea Store Library.The building responds to a complex site condition of certainty and uncertainty. Due to the construction of Crossrail, Sainsbury’s currently operates on a reduced site. The temporary parking deck is likely to be removed when Crossrail is delivered and Sainsbury’s has already submitted a planning application for a store extension. Looking at other Sainsbury’s property developments in London, it is likely that in the future it will propose additional developments, such as the residential proposal for Nine Elms. In contrast to this, being owned and run by the council, the Idea Store has a fairly certain future.The bridging structure plugs into the Idea store on the first floor. Entrance to the Employment Core from the high-street is through the Idea Store. Several spaces are adapted, including the café, the crèche and the bookable Learning Labs.

The Urban reception is defined at three levels; a permanent congregation space is defined by the pressure points of the structure; the training and consultancy space is housed in the bridging structure and the canopy defines a timetabled event space. 

The parking deck is physically adapted to generate the appropriate climatological conditions for the timetabled shared start-up offices which are run on the basis of the Regus model, a corporate model for managing flexible office space.   
The Exchange® network curates the possibilities of work around Crossrail’s statutory territory by including the key institutional forms of the area. 

Labour Exchange® is integrated into the local possibilities of work, as opposed to existing systems such as the Jobcentre Plus. 

Rather than acting as a mediating outsider, Labour Exchange® adapts the local work economy as its framework. The relationships between the various Exchange® Network partners and their relationship to the user were investigated at the strategic scale. The preliminary timeline suggests the activation of spaces and institutions over time. The territorial organisation of both the core as well as the network. The duality between the urban and the architectural construct becomes clear here. The network is slotted into existing complexity, uses existing systems and therefore has a more fragmented nature. The architecture is built on a mechanism of unification and therefore has a more singular form.