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STUDIO 3 - Prototyping the Common City

Following these years Extinction Rebellion Protests and School Climate strikes, the ‘Climate Crisis’ we face has been foregrounded in the national debate. Members of these movements, often young, stood in defiance to make it heard that the young stood in defiance to make it heard that the young generation will stand to address this crisis head-on. Whilst cultural and political change is slow, there is a new generation of climate activists who are lawyers designers, doctors, teachers and architects. 


This studio aims to address this audience, prototyping new technology, architecture and design to build a new city, the Common City. Our interest lies in action-research. Students use real issues, stakeholders and sites to drive their research and make strategic propositions to engage with social, economic, political and environmental change in our cities. 


Core to the studio is the idea of prototyping. By this, we mean an interactive process whereby we test the first generation of a new design, idea or organisation- with the intention of reflecting and refining future versions of the prototype. Through the process of prototyping, we find new models and architectural typologies which begin to re-imagine what the common city might look like. The studio under-carries live build projects, on-site in Poplar, where we have a secure site for at least 5 years. Here, we build physical prototypes to address social and environmental change.

Our methodologies are: rethink, teach, empower & act.

Rethink- rethink the role of the architect as an agent for democratic city making. It is a place that challenges the professionalism over how the city is made and reinvented.

Teach- Students and citizens to be at the forefront of decision making in how their built environment is made, imagined, negotiated and managed. 

Empower- Students to create new methods of practising architecture. We encourage students to drive their own research via the knowledge they discover.

Act- Within the studio framework ‘Live’ projects which engage and work with real stakeholders are strongly encouraged. The more your projects can act publicly the richer they will become. 


Poplar, our site, is an educational and prototyping space for the circular economy. Here, students have the chance and are free to test new technologies and build infrastructure at 1:1 that addresses our climate crisis and the circular economy as we prototype our common city. There are a number of complementary projects at R-Urban which demonstrate closed-loop ecosystems. 


The site has a fully equipped workshop and material stores which allows students the opportunity to build at all scales. Students are designing and prototyping new architectural components that address social and environmental changes.

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