Symbiotic City


Bridging the gap between young and old at the former Haggerston Baths. Leaders: Pedro Roos, Holly Harrington (PDP London) Heather Macey (McAslan). Students: Jayden Luk, Nina Watts, Harriet Stride, Sam Butler, Peter Salman, Jake Obichere, Regen James Gregg. Mentor: Joe Walker

This DTT brings together two abundant and underused resources of many cities: derelict yet treasured old buildings; and people, young and old, seeking suitable space and facilities to share with others pursuing lives as ‘creatives’ and ‘makers’. From these core concerns, and focused around the regeneration and expansion of the Haggerston Baths complex, the further concerns, ambitions and ideas explored are exceptionally wide-ranging.

UN Sustainable Development Goals:
3 Good health and well-being
10 Reduced Inequalities
11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
12 Responsible Consumption & Production

Many contemporary challenges are addressed: from the local and immediate to the more global and longer-term; from the social and age-related to the economic and employment-related; from those of the lonely elderly to the creative, entrepreneurial young. Also sought are the symbiotic synergies sparked when addressing these through the conversion, reuse and extension of the derelict baths and adjacent buildings to promote mutually supportive interactions between the diverse activities accommodated, as well as with the surroundings. Moreover, this project demonstrates a pragmatic strategy to be replicated and broadly applied, in a series of interventions spreading out from here, and inspiring similar ventures elsewhere.

At the heart of the complex and lending it a distinct identity is Haggerston Baths, an abandoned 1904 indoor swimming pool. This is to be converted into a flexible public space, ‘The Street’, that provides entrance and access to the whole community and can be adapted to many other uses to serve locals. To one side of this, old structures will be converted into a range of differing sorts of workshops for practising and learning a range of craft skills and art forms. On the opposite side of The Street, and built of laminated timber panels over what were garages to be converted to cafés, will be a new co-housing complex providing affordable housing for a mix of older people and professional creatives. The constant presence of these residents adds to the sense of this being a community facility pulsing with life day and night to be enjoyed by regular and less frequent users, even by passers-by.

Both by itself, and even more so as initiating a snowballing series of such mixed-use interventions, this complex will give further impetus to the ongoing regeneration of Haggerston as a desirable place to live and enjoy a plethora of activities.

Design Think Tanks

How can design improve the way we live in cities? Design Think Tanks (DTTs) at the LSA put forward proposals to help meet the targets set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Design Think Tanks are collaborative projects between students and leading architectural practices at the London School of Architecture. The UN Sustainable Development Goals address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. They are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

Each year the LSA selects a shortlist of DTT topics to be studied from a long list of suggestions made by the LSA Practice Network. The study topics suggested are ones that require urgent consideration, innovative thinking and design solutions that will generate significant social and environmental progress and beneficial urban change.

Students elect to work on one of the shortlisted study topics in collaborative groups of between six and eight led by senior staff from the sponsoring practice that suggested the DTT study topic. Generally, at least one member of each study group works with the sponsoring practice. LSA Faculty work with the DTT leaders to guide students through the research and design process.

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 how we occupy our cities, as well as our relationship to work, food and travel.