They shall inherit the Earth
GenerationsYand Z are aware of the global challenges they face. But by the time they succeed to positions of power, it could be too late to make the changes we need now. What would today’s London be like if reshaped by the generation that will inherit the city in decades to come? We asked fourth-year students at the London School of Architecture to share their proposals for transforming the lives of Londoners in the borough of Hackney. Within eight design think tanks, students and practices collaborated to reimagine everyday activities, from waste and wilderness to playfulness and pleasure.
Since 2011, 46 per cent of funding for London council youth services has been cut. Youth provision, especially for those of secondary school/college age, has been drastically reduced. These cuts have been felt particularly strongly in the London Borough of Hackney where the population is diverse, multicultural and comparatively young. The challenge is to develop a framework with and for Hackney Council to support the lives of young people, intensify and repurpose existing council-owned community infrastructure, and recognise the value of the existing user groups reliant on these spaces.
The refurbishment of Hoxton’s existing Fellows Court Community Centre is the first step in a policy of repurposing council-owned assets to improve the provision of youth facilities throughout the estate. The refurbishment works with Fellows Court’s concrete frame structure, and preserves and celebrates its assets – mosaics above the entrance hall, the community hall, the incumbent Suzuki music school and its strong ties with the community. Key changes include moving the dining room to a more prominent position, a more welcoming entrance lobby, improved circulation and wayfinding, and replacing hostile security bars with passive surveillance, lighting and improved activity in the adjacent square.
Satellite projects include appropriating vacant shop units for start-up businesses, repurposing vacant garages to provide facilities for 12-19 year olds, revitalising disused undercrofts by using new materials to create a more inviting environment, landscaping to establish a better relationship with adjacent public space, and installing low-cost structures to encourage play.Satellite projects include appropriating vacant shop units for start-up businesses, repurposing vacant garages to provide facilities for 12-19 year olds, revitalising disused undercrofts by using new materials to create a more inviting environment, landscaping to establish a better relationship with adjacent public space, and installing low-cost structures to encourage play.
These disparate elements are linked by a programme of public realm improvements including the provision of a greater variety of gathering spaces and cycle/pedestrian routes.
A new app – the Shift – streamlines and modernises listings and booking processes, offering information on programmes in local community centres and the availability of all nearby spaces and events.
- 2021: the influence of Hackney’s community infrastructure begins to spread out across the estate, inhabiting local garages, undercroft spaces and vacant shop fronts.
- 2-5 years: legitimised by the success of Fellows Court Estate, Hackney Council receives backing to develop further community hall sites across the borough.
- 5-10 years: Hackney’s community infrastructure extends beyond a now reduced community hall stock, inhabiting underused assets across the borough and connecting to form a resilient and sustainable network of spaces and programmes.