- Words and images by Stephanie Moore
Goal & objective
To question the future of commercial space in central London as the city responds to the impact of changing attitudes to how we work and the importance of quality in public spaces and local amenities.
Home-based work was almost universal before the Industrial Revolution, and as a result, many pre-industrial buildings combined dwelling and workplace in some way. The three key spatial design principles of traditional work-homes set out in the Workhome Project (F Holliss, 2010) are:
- Live-With. The first and most common type involves little (or no) spatial separation between the two functions.
- Live-Adjacent. The second type involves a greater degree of spatial separation between the two functions. In these buildings two compartments, one residential and one workplace, are accessed from separate entrances.
- Live-Nearby. The third type involves the greatest degree of spatial separation. The two functions are contained in separate buildings in close proximity.
The wider impact of Useless Class calls into question a number of existing conversations about housing provision, access to the city and the more recent situation of working from home. The overarching retrofit and specific unit types of the proposal focus on the day-to-day relationship that a person has with their work and home life, with the commute playing a large role in the experience and overall success of this housing approach. In the wider context of London, the project’s rigorous but simple strategy combined with the light touch and transformative architectural approach has the potential to be replicated through a number of the fully or partially vacant ‘office blocks’ that litter the city.
15-16 Minories, Aldgate, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, EC3N 1LQ
City of London