YEAR 2 – DS2.7
Tutors: David McEwen and Alicia Pivaro
David McEwen is a founding director of architecture and research practice Unit 38. They specialise in community-focused, socially-engaged projects.
Alicia Pivaro is an urbanist, community activist and artist working across disciplines and using participation and radical thinking to inform methods of urban and social change.
The Public Design Service
The studio is a site of experimentation and innovation, a laboratory of ideas underpinned by creative processes that can transform our environment for the common good. We believe architects should understand and engage with the political, economic and cultural processes that shape our cities, working within or against these in an informed and creative way. There is an urgent need for an alternative practice to meet the many challenges we face as a society – including the climate emergency, rising inequality, a cost-of-living crisis, unaffordable and inaccessible housing.
By engaging with communities in Islington and South Bermondsey, we have developed projects for clients that have included activists, local organisations. In Islington, our sites explored critical economic and cultural spaces within the borough. In South Bermondsey we investigated the rich collection of manufacturing, studio, making, performance and religious spaces present in the area, while reflecting on principles of retrofit (versus demolition) and the circular economy. While located at two different points within London, both sites represent forgotten spaces – undervalued and often under-recognised sites – that have provoked us to imagine projects that reveal, support and celebrate. Our projects have navigated various contemporary urban themes to stimulate alternative urban narratives about what is important within the city, including housing, working, making, identity, culture, refuge, health and rights.
The unit is guided by the philosophy that second year offers a unique opportunity to develop and grow our skills as designers – a chance to develop both a language and way of practising informed by our values, strengths and interests. We have made use of a variety of design and communication methods including collage, illustration, comics, performances, exhibitions, video, audio and model making – among others. We encourage students to use their own interests and lived experience to inform their projects to develop a powerful, sophisticated body of work that is both unique and radical.