Student Ideas from London

Friday 2 August – Friday 30 August 2019

Free entry

This exhibition celebrates the work produced by London architecture students for their postgraduate degree shows in 2019. It is a selection from schools across the city showcasing a breadth of new ideas for the future of London’s built environment.

Some of this work was taken from Blueprint for the Future, an annual summer showcase of the most exciting and challenging Architecture Part II graduate work from across the country, as selected by Blueprint Magazine. Also exhibited are the winning entries to NLA and The Built Environment Turst’s annual RCA student prize. 

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Architectural Association School of Architecture 

Kai Hang Yau

London Backyard Trust

A collective approach towards densifying London’s suburbs. London is in a ‘housing crisis’. There is no under-supply of houses, but an under-supply of truly affordable homes, and an over-supply of cheap mortgage credits. The current model of supply looks for expensive, large pieces of land for large scale development after gaining planning permission. This model of supply is extremely high risk and favours speculative developers as the only ones with large enough capital to bear the risk. At the same time, existing houses  in London are locked up as pure financial assets, but not homes. The London Backyard Trust separates the financial right and use right of land through the ‘tokenisation’ of physical properties, disabling speculation and encouraging common ownership that enables truly affordable housing supply. The owners’ financial right to use their land and houses as pure financial assets now exist in digital token form, as tradable tokens, each providing a fixed monthly revenue. The trust on the other hand has the collective use right of the physical land for redevelopment and densification. The project essentially creates a new, scalable model that provides the housing London needs, by the densification of suburbs through community-led supply, whilst maintaining democratic control of development.

Central Saint Martins – University of the Arts London 

Olivia Birnbaum

Crafting A More Inclusive Neighbourhood 

Can social prescribing drive the design of more inclusive health care facilities?

Loneliness is one of the biggest threats facing Londoners today. In her book ‘The Lonely City’, Olivia Laing describes it as being frozen in a block of ice; “You can see them, but you can’t reach them, and so this commonplace urban phenomenon, available in any city of the world on any night, conveys to even the most social a tremor of loneliness, its uneasy combination of separation and exposure” Studies have shown that 55% of Londoners feel lonely often, or all the time, which has been proven to be detrimental to our physical health and mental wellbeing. As spatial practitioners, it is our responsibility to address this issue and to design more inclusive space. This proposal for a new GP surgery at the heart of a redeveloping West Hampstead, addresses both the physical and psychological needs of the local residents. The architecture is crafted to feel inclusive, promote wellbeing and encourage interaction between people through small scale crafted details. The project takes a close look at the psychological concept called ‘flow’ and its healing impacts.

Milly Wood 

In the Nature of Things 

It is estimated that only 10% of UK children today regularly play outdoors. However, it is the fundamental right of every child, whether living in the countryside or the city, to have access to spaces where they can build dens, experiment with materials and discover the natural world. This project intends to connect ecologies in the centre of Lewisham to demonstrate ways in which built and natural environments can work together. The project explores this environments’ role in learning and play, proposing a masterplan of interventions and management across two sites. An outdoor classroom and sensory play trail in a private nature reserve are mirrored with a nature trail and viewing platform in a public park, connected and strengthened over time by a living bridge. 

The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design – London Metropolitan University 

Oliver Carter

Polyvalent Models

‘Polyvalency’ - being able to adapt with minimal modification to adopt multiple programmes. 

When designing, predictions are made about a building’s future programme and its end users. The programme of a polyvalent building model can stay relevant in multiple eventualities reducing the waste and cost of extensive adaption or demolition. Unit 7 designed and built a polyvalent model for Margent Farm, Cambridge. A 30m2 prototypical hempcrete building suitable to be used as dwelling, classroom, office or shop. The polyvalent model for the city expanded upon the collective research for a design in Shadwell, London. The building is formed from a panelised hempcrete system and can accommodate three potential programmes: dwellings, offices or primary school. 

London School of Architecture 

Seyi Adowole

The Croydon Gateway

Asylum seekers and refugees often reside in the city’s periphery, while the support they need lies in areas that are hard to access. 

This strategy for Croydon integrates displaced people into the existing communities, while creating a one-stop-shop facility to help them start a new life in the UK. The centre includes social areas, workspace, retail, affordable housing and support facilities. Its architecture conveys a sense of security, robustness and permanence. Three different garden areas – for food-growing, relaxation and play – spill into the public realm, while a market garden and trading area offers an opportunity for people to set up food stalls. 

Will Bellamy


Current developments in London are holding back the creative potential of the city; what people need is space and opportunity for mess. Sugartown occupies a 140-year-old sugar refinery owned by Tate & Lyle in the Docklands of East London. Often these sites have turned from places of production to places of consumption. This refinery however, is impractical for traditional development. Instead, this proposal builds on the industrial as well as cultural heritage of the Tate. Where once the Tate Modern gave the opportunity for everyone to consume the arts, the reimagined Tate Institute gives space for the making of the arts. 

Royal College of Art

George Allen 

Building a National Education Service: a Pilot Scheme for Poplar

The project promotes the foundation of a National Education Service to provide comprehensive and free access to life-long learning; allowing every adult and child to benefit from studying and playing alongside one another regardless of their background. This urban strategy involves interventions at various scales to serve as a pilot scheme, located in Poplar, East London. The masterplan augments the existing educational infrastructure to create a diffuse campus, enhancing the educational potential of public space to build a framework for alternative forms of pedagogy, while developing a civic language fit for inclusive education.

Lorenzo Bellacci

Mount Pleasant 

After receiving planning consent directly from Boris Johnson in 2015, part of Mount Pleasant sorting office is currently being developed into a high-density mixed-use scheme. The proposed architecture shows how large-scale developments have lost agency towards the city crafting the public realm in the form of a sterile corridor functional only in terms of circulation. This project explores a viable alternative to the existing scheme for Mount Pleasant exploring a different way of shaping public space within the city. The scheme can be described as a transition from public to semi-private and private. This sequence is articulated through an exterior envelope, an enfilade of courtyards spaces, a series of scattered pavilions hosting offices and retail activities and a mat of courtyard houses.

Eleanor Hill  

Terms of Endearment

Language, like drawing, is a form of architectural representation. It informs the construction of places and our attitudes towards them. This work explores how we could shift the narrative around places which have fallen victim to negative representation, creating a new set of terms and values for British housing estates. One of the most destructive uses of rhetoric surrounds the decline of post-war social housing reflected by a language of contempt: from ‘Homes fit for Heroes’ to ‘Sink Estates’.

This project proposes an alternative design process. Taking vocabulary from current housing policies, it turns criticisms into virtues as a means to serve the lesser-heard local community – creating architectural proposals formed from terms of endearment. 

Eleanor Hill is the winner of the 2019 Built Environment Trust RCA Student Prize.

Kingston University

Joseph Murray

Ridley Road Market 

This year Unit 8 has been looking at the deep level of nurture and protection that architecture can offer to vulnerable areas of the city. Situating ourselves at the heart of Ridley Road Market in Dalston Kingsland, an area under real threat of development that is insensitive to the diverse cultural characteristics of the market, project looks to the robust architecture of the Palazzi of Naples as an example of how a building façade can absorb the toughness of everyday life. 

At a site at the quieter, eastern end of Ridley Road Market Joe’s project proposes a cantilevered vaulted canopy that provides a deep dramatic shelter for the street market and a threshold to the gardens beyond, coming to ground in three tree trunk like feet. The body of the cast, stereotomic structure holds a public room overlooking the market and a terrace above. Perched unnervingly at the edge of this base is a tower of pre-cast concrete panels. Their fine relief invokes perspectival illusion and layering to create a delicate volume like an alabaster release. In both form and tectonic the project proposes a set of dualities addressing different scale and types of urban experience.

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NLA, The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, WC1E 7BT


NLA and the Building Centre opening times:

Monday to Friday: 9.30 am - 6.00 pm
Saturday: 10.00 am - 5.00 pm

We are closed on Sundays, Bank Holidays, Easter Saturday and for the Christmas period from 24th December to the first working weekday of January.

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