Laboratory for Design and Machine Learning

Laboratory for Design and Machine Learning

Future Homes for London: Alternate Models

Organised by the Royal College of Art, St Ann’s Redevelopment Trust, Haringey, RCA City Design, The Architecture Foundation and Baylight Foundation. These series of events pulls apart and questions alternate models of affordable and community-led housing projects for the UK.

Using global exemplars – from Swiss projects based on nineteenth-century co-operative legal structures such as Kraftwerk I and Mehr als Wohnen in Zurich, new Spanish co-operatives addressing community ageing (La Borda), to the Nightingale structure developed within the specific legal and financial constraints of Australian law – the event asks what, within the context of the UK, is possible? What works and why, and how do we learn from other places, recognising the specificity of our legal jurisdiction, financial structures, and cultural limitations?

Future Homes for London: Alternate Models will discuss: case studies and precedents; the consequences of different legal frameworks; co-operative models and land tenure systems in relationship to participation, ongoing management, and governance; the financing of housing projects – patient capital and the perception of risk; procurement structures; and the role of architecture, especially in negotiating difference productively through design.

Participants will hear from those developing, building, designing, leading and living in new projects globally and learn from their experience of delivering alternate housing.

Link to online presentations


Tarsha Finney
Sam Jacoby
St Anns Redevelopment Trust
The Architecture Foundation


Baylight Foundation

Event 1: Global Precedents of Community-led and -owned Housing
13 April 2018, 9.30am – 6pm

Often policy makers and developers see ‘community led’ as no more than glorified consultation, or as a way to navigate the planning process. Communities often talk of ‘community led’, but really mean full community control of housing and amenities. This can include the design process, full ownership of the property on completion, who lives in the development, rental and sales prices fixed in perpetuity by covenants in ownership contracts, and ongoing management. To make it more than just a place where people live, can community groups actively build communities as well as housing – where we might replace the term housing with the notion of civil society? This is not uncommon in other parts of the world. Why do we continue to wait for someone’s permission to do it here in the UK?

Common to many of the international projects that will be discussed is the role of the design process in the negotiation of difference amongst co-operative members and the coming into form of the project. Here, co-operative members navigating competing desires and ambitions for a project are innovating the shared spaces and amenities of multi-residential housing projects, moving away from the usual one two and three bedroom apartments sent to market by developers. These are projects either led by architects, or that involve co-op members who are architects.

The series of presentations are from architects and housing activists operating globally. They will deal with processes, give stories and accounts of specific projects, and speak about experiments in new, shared amenity at the scale of the building block and the dwelling unit. 


9:30am Welcome by Adrian Lahoud (Dean, School of Architecture, RCA)

9:35am Introduction by Tony Wood (StART)

9:45am Introduction to Day 1 by Tarsha Finney (RCA)

10am – 1pm International Case Studies Part 1

  • Cristina Gamboa (Lacol), La Borda, Barcelona
  • Jeremy McLeod (Breathe Architecture), The Commons, Melbourne
  • Silvia Carpaneto (Carpaneto Schöningh Architekten), Coop Housing at River Spreefeld, Berlin (tbc)
  • Christoph Schmidt (ifau), R50, Berlin (tbc)
  • Christian Roth (Zanderroth Architekten), BIGyard, Berlin (tbc)
  • Claudia Thiesen (Mehr Als Wohnen), Kraftwerk I, Zurich
  • Jeremy McLeod (Breathe Architecture): The Nightingale Principle
  • Paul Karakusevic (Karakusevic Carson Architects): Camden/New York

4–6pm Panel Discussion

Discussion of participation, conflict, negotiation, and constituting community through the coming into form of the project. Clarifying the possible relationships and terms between community and housing development and its different national contexts. 

  • Tony Wood (StART)
  • Paul Karakusevic (Karakusevic Carson Architects)
  • Frances Northrop (Consultant, NEF/Co-ops UK Community Economic Development Programme)
  • Catherine Harrington (Director, National CLT Network)
  • Jeremy McLeod
  • Claudia Thiesen
  • Cristina Gamboa

Chaired by Tarsha Finney (RCA) 

La Borda. Photograph by Cristina Gamboa

Event 2: The UK Context: Community Control and Financing of Housing
14 April 2018, 10am – 4pm

 Until recently the general narrative has been ‘the market will provide’ when it comes to house building but this strategy is a failure for most people. Recently, the delivery of genuinely affordable and community-led housing has risen up the political agenda and raises a series of questions: What is genuinely affordable and who should housing be owned and managed by? What constitutes and legitimises a community to take control of housing projects? How are alternate models of housing to be scaled up to match the UK housing demand and what financing and procurement models are needed? Can public and private capital work with community organisations and philanthropy to achieve this?

The second day will be framed by StART, a group of local residents and workers who have initiated a community-led and transparent process for a 800-unit housing development in Haringey that puts local people in control, with the aim to provide genuinely affordable housing.


10am Welcome by Adrian Lahoud (Dean, School of Architecture, RCA)

10.05am Introduction by Tony Wood (StART)

10.15–12:45am Community Control: What Could It Look Like?

  • Vanessa Ricketts (StART) 
  • Catherine Harrington (Director, National CLT Network)
  • Aditya Chakrabortty (Senior Economics Commentator, The Guardian) tbc

Chaired by Adrian Lahoud (RCA)

1.30–4pm How Do We Fund Affordable Housing?

  • Marlene Barrett (StART)
  • Stephen Hill  (Director, C20 futureplanners) tbc
  • Frances Northrop (Consultant, NEF/Co-ops UK Community Economic Development Programme)
  • Pete Gladwell (Head of Public Sector Partnerships, Legal & General Investment Management)

Chaired by Paul Karakusevic (Karakusevic Carson Architects)

Event 3: The Future of Community-led Housing
14 April 2018, 4.30–6.30pm

Hosted by The Architecture Foundation

This event will bring together a series of architects leading co-operative housing projects in countries as diverse as Switzerland, Spain and Australia with co-operative housing leaders in London to discuss the value of design as part of the process of bringing community together, and how we might make it happen in London and the UK.

  • Annabel Kennedy (StART)
  • Chris Brown (Executive Chair, igloo Regeneration)
  • Claudia Thiesen (Mehr Als Wohnen)
  • Jeremy McLeod (Breathe Architecture)
  • Cristina Gamboa (Lacol)

Chaired by Phineas Harper (Architecture Foundation)

Future Homes event, 13 April 2018