David Kohn Architects
39–51 Highgate Road
London NW5 1RT
+44 (0)20 7424 8596 tel
The urban environment is a precise emotional condition. Being in the city feels a certain way. This is similar to the idea of being at home, you know when you feel at home, when you can take your shoes off and relax. This feeling of being at home can be communicated to other people even though they live in different kinds of homes. Similarly, the feeling of being in the city is not easily confused with being in a shopping mall, or being in a theme park, and most people are sensitive to these differences.
The city has been hotly debated by all manner of architects and urbanists, arguing for positions which range from the reconstruction of the European city to a new fluid functionalism which emerges from global market forces. It is strange that so much is said and predicted for the future of the city since all evidence suggests that planning plays a barely significant role in the development of cities. The growing pressures to concentrate use, to assemble ever larger sites, to erode the public realm are driven by economic development, and architects are usually left to interpret and facilitate decisions that have been taken at a much earlier stage of the process, decisions that architects and planners are rarely party to. Cities are in fact highly resistant to a priori ideologies and instead follow a continuous and barely perceptible form of structural development. A development that is an embodiment of culture, of people’s ambitions and desires. Thought of this way, rather than being an imperfect manifestation of an abstract theory, the city is a perfect and vivid instance of reality.
This year the project was to make a new part of the city in a dense and increasingly vibrant part of south London. The site is large, busy and has, for London, an unusually intense metropolitan scale. The site is surrounded by substantial public facilities, so our project will concentrate on private accommodation. Indeed, the site already has a large amount of offices on it, which could be partially, or wholly reused. We are not interested in a simulacra of the city, of city squares and shop lined arcades. We are interested in a city made of different offices and studios behind similar and repetitive facades, of generous lanes and yards. Our project is about the future of the city. It is about what size of site should reasonably be developed at one time. It is about architecture, not urbanism.
Students: Rihan Ayamperuma, Alex Bell, Emily Bryant, Jon Chadwick, Wendy Chu, Rachel Gadd, Sin Ho, Steve Hodgson, Enoch Hui, Caroline Hurrell, Adrian Lau, Rob Lisle, Rachel Moon, Matthew Mayes, Sonja Maedler, Javier Ruiz-Morote, James Payne, Carrie Sin, Dennis Souris, Robert Squibb, Tom Stevens, Chi Tang, Pete Thomas, Iain Vitty, Vincent Wong, Hoi Yau, David Yu.
Tutors: Adam Caruso, Peter St. John, David Kohn, Pamela Self