The story of today’s architecture does not start from a blank page and a fantasy of unlimited resources. It starts from existing matter – buildings and urban spaces which are already here, dug out from the ground and processed into materials. How to design by using existing structures as material banks for future builds?
Our BA Architecture course is a joint programme in collaboration with Enfield Council. Students work on urban mining in partnership with Enfield Council Excess Material Exchange, which is a live project within the Meridian Water development in North London. The brief requires conceptual and practical development and understanding of architecture that is not a permanent monument, but a flow of materials that for a given time and space become an important structure for the local community after which it can be again dismantled, if necessary.
The brief is developed together with Rafe Bertram, Sustainability Facilitator at Enfield Council, Tolu Faleti, Senior Design Manager of Meridian Water, and Alex Warnock-Smith, Programme Director of the CSM Spatial Practices. The studio has been granted UAL Knowledge Exchange Fund to foster collaboration with external partners. With the help of the fund we organised a series of roundtable talks with experts, recent graduates and students on material reuse and urban mining. In order for the architecture and construction sector to take responsibility for the emissions and waste that come with extensive building, we as tutors of future architects also need to ask the right questions. For three evenings we asked historians, practitioners, scholars and recent graduates who are active in the field of material reuse to discuss their concerns and ambitions in this rapidly developing field. A booklet was published that looks back on the year, on questions and topics that we discussed, and puts forward new ambitions for architectural teaching curriculum, joint platforms and future architects.