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STUDIO 2 - Building the Civic

Studio 2 investigates ways in which architecture may become a key agent of inclusive urban and social regeneration; how this may impact the processes and networks involved in producing the civic, urban fabric of the city.  We approach the production of civic space as a complex process where the cohabitation of different social and cultural groups is constantly negotiated in conditions of multiplicity and simultaneity. This juxtaposition of actors, groups allows different communities to interact and develop both specific and shared civic agencies and identities. 

 

Our role is to explore how the conditions for this social production could occur; we engage with existing live projects, situations, devising strategic interactions between local communities to enhance social, economic and political networks. 

“To inhabit meant to take part in social life, a community, village or city. Urban life possessed, amongst other qualities, this attribute.” 

- Henri Lefebvre (1968) The Right to the City

 

We understand that ‘civic fabric’ emerges out of the interaction between different communities, actors and networks that characterise an urban situation, and in relation to local social, spatial & political conditions. 

 

This year we were based in Roman Road, Bow, a diverse neighbourhood in East London. It is a lively local high-street at the core of Bow that hosts a vibrant local market (founded in 1843) along its East half. It is exposed to the issues affecting most local high streets in the country and is particularly affected by contrasting processes of social deprivation and urban gentrification.  

 

By inserting live actions, interventions, we are investigating these issues, interacting with residents, community, creating networks and experiencing the site itself, its energy. The aim of these is to explore how the urban gaps and interstices around Roman Road may have a role in the articulation and reinforcement of the civic and productive tissues of the area.

The design proposals of Studio 2 have been informed by our immersive contextual investigations, that combined hands-on and tactical on-site actions to reveal and understand the social, economic, political material, spatial and urban issues and potentials that characterise the context of interventions. Each project underwent a design process which moved from an urban intervention to a pavilion, to a temporary building. Projects explored the tectonic poetry of the transient, challenging the contemporary approach towards humble materials which can be simplistic, flimsy.

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