Design Studio (Two) Five

BA Architecture

YEAR 2 – DS2.5

Tutors: Nasios Varnavas and Christopher Daniel

Nasios Varnavas is the co-founder of collaborative studio, Urban Radicals. UR was selected to design and curate the Cyprus Pavilion at the 17th Architecture Biennale in Venice, as well as being named one of the Best New Architects by Archdaily in 2021. The studio has been part of the Young Architects Residency 2021/22 at the Architecture Foundation.

Christopher Daniel is an architect and theatre consultant with over a decade of experience designing cultural infrastructure and places for performance. He is director of Polysemic, a collaborative design practice focussed on the creation of gathering places, whether permanent or temporary, in the real world or the virtual. Chris is London organiser for the Long Now Foundation.

The New Local: Architectures of 1.5 degrees

Today the earth is 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s, while emissions continue to rise. The Paris Agreement is a legally binding global treaty adopted in 2015 by 192 countries plus the EU, bringing all nations together under one common cause; to prevent the global temperature from reaching 1.5°C by 2050. Missing this target will result in irreversible, devastating global consequences.

It comes as no surprise that today the majority of discussions around sustainability are consequently filtered through emergency protocols aimed at swiftly implementing top-down, technocratic frameworks and regulations. These are certainly paramount, especially in large metropolitan contexts and in an age where globalisation and efficiency prevail in order to respond to rapid population growth and the climate emergency.

On the other hand, questions that cannot help but arise, especially when projecting into the future of our built environments and cities, are – how could an architecture of 1.5°C respond to local contexts and, indeed, what would locality even mean by 2050? What might it look like and how will it feel?

While this is not the first time in architectural history where locality, place and identity seem to be at stake, washed away by global capital; what might be a
first is that today we find ourselves at a crossroad between future vision and preservation of the past, where various conversations appear to be converging on the nodal point of sustainability. In addition to this, mass migrations across the globe are constantly reshaping what we ask of our cities and challenging what or who the local is, as well as how we engage with difficult questions concerning social and environmental sustainability, identity, and equity in our cities.

This year, DS2.5 will explore counter proposals to mega-scale developments and engage with questions of material and social sustainability through the physical building acts and conceptual notions of: (un)earthing, carving, piling, (un)moulding, casting, salvaging, (cata)logging, grafting, scaling, gathering, activating.

To capture these we will work through physical drawings, accumulating, layering information on tracing paper and drawing in and out of your sites at a variety of scales. You will also be introduced to digital methods, such as photogrammetry and software, as well as analogue and digital making techniques. Our work will be in pursuit of an architecture which is both forward thinking and in parallel holds and carries-over design languages developed through the centuries that are connected to place.

“The idea is in the site.”

Alvaro Siza

We will work in the contested histories, territories and homes of migrant communities in Southwark, which sit in contrast to new developments and recurring waves of gentrification. We will study Walworth in particular, with its high-street, East Street Market and its large council estates of more than 2000 homes, which are currently under the threat of demolition.

We encourage students to engage with these complex social, political and material issues, to design public buildings for exchange and gathering, conceptualising their proposals as rooms for the city in the spirit of equity and activism.

Archive of DS2.5’s work from previous years:

BA DS2.5 2016-2017

BA DS2.5 2017-2018

BA DS2.5 2018-2019

BA DS2.5 2019-2020

BA DS2.5 2020-2021

BA DS2.5 2021-2022