This year Studio BA 17 will consider projects based in the urban core of the city of Brighton & Hove. Brighton & Hove is interesting for a number of reasons, not least because it has rather unusual physical constraints. It can’t sprawl outwards because it is bound by the South Downs National Park to the North, the sea to the South and suburban development to the East & West. However it is a very popular city attracting over 8,500,000 visitors a year. It has a population of 275,000, including about 33,000 students, but it also has one of the highest levels of homelessness of any city in the UK (144 people, rising from 78 in the last year). In addition to this the city has around 15,000 affordable homes. However it also has a waiting list of over 15,000 families waiting to get a home.
Brighton & Hove is also unusual from the point of view of its politics. The City has the UK’s only Green Party MP (Dr. Caroline Lucas), with its other MP being from The Labour Party. When viewed within the context of its immediate surroundings Brighton & Hove is an island, surrounded by Conservative MP’s. It is also famous for having a thriving artistic and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community.
We will make the most of Duncan & Ian’s contacts within the City to provide interesting clients and briefs that will be applied to specific situations in an area of Brighton’s urban core that is in need of positive adjustment. The studio will draw upon our recent research interests, i.e. the concept of ‘circular cities’ and the ‘circular economy’, where buildings are ‘material stores’ for the future. We will be identifying opportunities for turning linear metabolisms, where things are manufactured, used, and then thrown away, into ‘closed loop’ systems. However we won’t simply work with stuff, we are interested in the human potentials on site; existing communities, networks and activities, whether they are successful or not, with a view to improving their physical environment and access to facilities, as well as for joining up systems that can benefit each other. The idea of carefully working/ re-working the existing fabric of our cities, while crucially, valuing the lives and livelihood of its citizens has been identified by BBM’s resent research as ‘mining the Anthropocene’. Studio 17’s main objective this year is to make the City of Brighton & Hove more accessible to a greater percentage of its citizens by creating physical architectonic links where barriers currently exist.