The fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic has made us acutely aware of two major issues facing us as architects and global citizens.
Firstly, at a time when the world should stand together and speak to each other, the forces of regionalism and identity politics have made our opinions less intelligible to each other and more polarised than before.
Secondly, life under lockdown has exposed the inadequacies in the designs of our homes, which often lacks programmatic adaptability, external amenity, and a sense of community in times of crisis.
Serendipitously, these are precisely the issues that we at DS(3)7 have been wrestling with for sometime.
Set up as an international studio in collaboration with the Central Academy of Fine Arts in China, we use Beijing and London as our testbeds to seek a new poetics of habitation and new ways of living together in the city.
The joint programme is a platform for dialogue and the exchange of ideas. We pursue a global perspective in tackling increasingly shared urban challenges. We constantly question what it takes to think in context, posed as a general problem in human thought and as a particular problem for architects.
We spent our first semester embedded in China, living and studying in Beijing, immersed in a radically different cultural and urban context. Through analysis of a residential estate in Sanyuanli, the students developed a series of strategic residential housing proposals aimed at ensuring the long-term sustainability of the local community. In semester two the students took their learnings from Beijing, and worked with Lewisham Homes on a site in New Cross slated for temporary social housing. Key to the students investigations, is the focus on the thresholds: between public, communal, and private, as well as the nature of the landscape between buildings."
We would like to thank Sarah Beth Riley and David Lowry at Lewisham Homes, as well as Cat Mollet at London Borough of Lewisham for their support this year in developing our London proposals. We'd like to thank Professor He Keren at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing for her support in our China project.