Design Studio (Two) Two



Tutors: Natalie Newey & John Zhang

Natalie Newey is a Senior Lecturer and SFHEA. She has extensive experience working in practice and is particularly interested in community engagement in the design process.

John Zhang is a practicing architect and an Associate at DSDHA. He is also currently working on a PhD at the Royal College of Art on the topic of contemporary Chinese architecture.

Architecture as Agency: Made in Peckham

We went back to Peckham this year, where the broad mix of people and built environment provide rich territory to explore the studio’s interest in how design is informed by a meaningful engagement with local communities. Our briefs developed around the relationship we have cultivated with the Coal Line project and local community groups including John Donne, a local primary school. Chance and opportunism have long played a part in the development of this vibrant neighbourhood, but in recent years gentrification has become a growing threat which the local community is determined to control. The studio has explored this issue as part of our year’s briefs.

As a means of getting to grips with the site, the students began by inventing ‘Field Instruments’ which they used to explore the qualities of the sites chosen. Their inventions included tools for measuring vibration, mechanisms for listening to conversations, devices for containing and emitting smells, and wearable viewing machines. We shared our inventions with the students at John Donne, who provided excellent advice and inspiring feedback. Research into local community projects then lead to designs for Pop-Up Community Hubs, part of a proposal for a summer festival along the proposed Coal Line.

A trip to Ahmedabad, India in January was a highlight of the year, organised around a workshop with students at CEPT University. We investigated local community projects, analysed through sketches local landmark buildings, and explored the urban fabric of this ancient city. On our return to London, students developed briefs for alternative educational facilities with the help of the John Donne student body. On a site next to the proposed Coal Line, schemes were developed that attempted to knit together disparate site elements, enhance community connectivity and create inspiring facilities for encouraging wider knowledge and fostering curiosity among the students and the community.