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Housing vs ‘homing’ at the AR Housing salon

The judges of AR Housing shared their takes on the subject at a special salon on Thursday 2 June

The inagural AR Housing awards presented our judging panel of Cany Ash, Je Ahn and Sasa Radulovic with such a broad range of projects that defining the type became in itself a rich site of discussion. Having narrowed the entries down to a list of four finalists - to be revealed in a special summer edition of the AR - they joined us at a salon event in which they presented what they saw as the current trends in housing, either through their own projects or wider cultural discussions.

Cany Ash of Ash Sakula presented the studio’s ongoing Wickside project in Hackney, a 3.4 hectare development at the edge of the Olympic Park. Occupying a former refuse yard, this project will bring some 500 homes and 300 jobs to a neglected area that currently provides 20 jobs and no housing.

Playing with a knockabout history, the project provides spaces for a mix of uses, working with with the existing streetscape while creating a new linear park alongside the canal that will feed into the yards of the low-rise housing to create a continuity between the private and semi-private. The concept of ‘3D’ greening filters water that falls onto the rooftop living spaces down through the housing units.

Recognising the value of ‘propaganda’ (more of that in Je Ahn’s talk), Ash presented an animation that was vital in communicating the key principles of the design quickly and simply

Je Ahn of Studio Weave presented a quick run-through of the practice’s exhibit currently on display in At Home in Britain at the RIBA. Exploring the role of the advertisement in selling the ‘flat’ (or ‘apartment’, if you prefer) over the decades, Ahn moved from the ’30s and ’40s slum clearances and the idea of ‘excellent sanitary arrangements’, to the ’60s emergence of the ‘housing ladder’ and technical advertisements of modular homes, ending with the solitary, sinister advertisements we see today for anonymous, anodyne developments.

Studio Weave’s response taps into these advertisements’ power to portray a particular way of life, demonstrating what we could be aiming for in 2025, in which we might collectively invest in shared facilities.

210 towerbridge logo cropped image 800

210 towerbridge logo cropped image 800

‘Hello Neighbours’ - Studio Weave’s alternative housing advertisement

Sasa Radulovic of 5468796 architecture presented the situation in Winnipeg where his practice is based, and more broadly the way in which housing is tied to commodity. In North America, where the dream of owning your own, large home still has a firm hold.

Architects are not innocent, says Radulovic, in their pursuit of a ‘silver bullet’ to solve housing problems, and presented several of 5468796’s projects displaying a focus on the idea of equity, making housing that ‘knits into’ the city and gives residents a sense of ownership over how they live.

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