YEAR 2 – DS2.5
Tutors: Christopher Daniel and Chris Bryant
Chris Bryant is a founding director of London practice Alma-nac Collaborative Architecture.
Christopher Daniel is an architect, director of Polysemic and London organiser for the Long Now Foundation. His work centres on the creation of gathering places, from theatres to festivals to virtual environments.
Our public places are constantly changing. Recent decades have seen a slow assault on communal facilities and social infrastructure. What is presented as new ‘public’ space is increasingly commercialised, privatised and conceived behind closed doors.
The last two years have emphasised the need for public spaces for people to gather, interact and share experiences. The pandemic has once again posed a challenge to our relationship with the urban environment but also an opportunity to re-imagine public space. This year DS(2)05 explored architecture’s role in that re- imagining.
In semester one, studio members proposed temporary facilities on Lower Marsh, a market street near Waterloo station. The market is now dominated by stalls selling takeaway food for those who work in the area. All projects included communal seating for the lunchtime crowd, but also public toilet facilities and another form of public function based on personal research in the local area. We explored methods of engagement and data gathering that help unveil the social, economic and spatial complexities of urban sites. Studio members designed their own methods and tested them in the wild.
Semester two projects were also situated in South London, on larger sites just north of the major redevelopments around Elephant & Castle. Unit members proposed long-term gathering places for communities that had either been present in the area in the past or might find it a suitable physical location for previously offline and remote engagement. The term ‘gathering’ is deliberately loose, with the nature and scale of assembly places defined by the desires, requirements and dynamics of the groups they serve.