Section by Robin Turner

2012/13 Constructor Course

Cass Diploma unit investigating the future of affordable housing through group custom build projects for the Olympic site.

This year Unit 5 will be studying self-provided housing models for London. At present in the UK there is a housing crisis with a massive need for affordable homes and no clear strategy for their delivery. The 2008 economic crash led to the lowest levels of housing supply, mortgage lending and social housing provision for generations with the incumbent widespread social implications and growing inequalities. In London the problem is particularly acute given the shortage of land and a growing population.

We will question what should be the qualities of contemporary housing and how they might be delivered. Should housing be standardised and speculative according to rule books as in the Georgian era? Or are we ready to work with large groups of end-user clients to develop new housing typologies, common parts that have particular identities, levels of comfort and energy-efficient tailored homes that suit varied needs? Such customised models are being explored outside the UK, so is the time ripe for architects and self-builders to break new ground?

At the beginning of the year we will carry out group research projects that provide a broad knowledge base on which to make design decisions. Each student will then be expected to develop their own response to the prevailing conditions, establish groups of acting clients, engage with local suppliers and develop new forms of representation that communicate the basis of each collaborative design decision. The resulting schemes should demonstrate how good design coupled with political engagement can lead to exemplary housing architecture, suggesting future models for practice.

We will be working with a number of experts in the field who will give workshops and contribute to crits throughout the year. A field trip to Barcelona in November will include visits to exemplary housing schemes and craft-based construction industries, alongside workshops with emerging Catalan practices.

David and Silvia are returning from a one year sabbatical having taught at London Met since 2003. In 2005 Silvia completed her own award-winning ‘self-delivered’ housing scheme with other London Met students.

Section by Alessio Fini
By Alessio Fini
By Sam Turner