Smout Allen

Naomi Rubbra Y5

Who is London for? This project critically reflects on what people need to live a good life and explores a design meth-odology for how we can better understand these needs in order to achieve effective architectural practice; effective in achieving lasting benefits for health, wealth, community and society. At the heart of this research is the question of how the architect’s ‘image’ of current or future users in-forms their practice and to what extent does the formation of this image rely on the assumed, ver-sus the situated. 

Based on a specific kind of situated practice with residents on the Elthorne Housing Estate, Isling-ton, where I live, this research and design challenges typically ‘remote’ practices that are influential in shaping the architects’ standardised image of the occupier often marginalising those who do not fit the ‘norm.’ 

‘Who is London For?’ sets-up Elthorne Estate as a test-bed for how we can explore designing rele-vant and adaptive buildings for the diversity of a community living there now, and in the future by bringing to the forefront previously hidden perspectives and centre on the residents regular habits and their well-tempered habitat; the project facilitates a series of engagement methodologies from the scale of the body, to the street, to the collective public. 

Focusing on the ‘Holland Walk’ pedestrian-way through the estate, three buildings and their out-posts look to challenge the typical model of urban ‘in-fill’. The tectonic attitude of each building grew out from the estate grid and acts as an ‘armature’ for supporting new landscape and social infrastructures. 

When thinking about the tools or methods in gaining better knowledge of users (to facilitate better decision-making, in service of better building) ‘Who is London For?’ argues that the ‘collective’ view is a true test of its (the building designs’) ‘social’ integrity.

Terra Incognita 2019