Unit 0: Meanwhile in Newham…
University of East London
Unit 0 is a group of fifteen postgraduate architecture students at the University of East London. The Unit, titled ‘Meanwhile in Newham…’ is being led by Wilf Meynell, Sarah Broadstock and Tom Bennett.
Set in East London’s Borough of Newham, we aim to cultivate a long term perspective on issues of embodied carbon, lifecycle and re-use, focusing on meanwhile (read: worthwhile) sites.
Inequality has reached record levels, we are witnessing again the ugly rise of ethnonationalism and infotech monopolies harnessing powerful algorithms have begun to subvert and undermine established democracies. The impact of human economies has begun to alter the environment on a massive scale, leading some to label the current geological epoch ‘the Anthropocene’. We face an ecological and climate crisis that many experts believe our civilization cannot survive. In summary, there is very little that we can predict with any certainty. We are not sure of what the climate will be like in 10 years time, let alone anything else.
There is a growing consensus that we need to find ways to repurpose the buildings that we already have. This imperative will only increase as we seek to decarbonise, resulting in an increasing proportion of the existing building stock becoming unfit for purpose without intervention and retrofit. Given the high degree of societal uncertainty and the fastening pace of political, technological and environmental change, how can we ensure that our own architectural proposals will not quickly become obsolete?
Unit 0 seeks to investigate the overlap of social and environmental issues in order to formulate adaptive architectural proposals. We are interested in the temporal nature of the built environment and changing patterns of use and occupation. Drawing upon concepts such as the circular economy, commons ownership and meanwhile typologies, we seek to develop architectural strategies that can benefit both the environment and local communities, while embodying a resilience towards the inherent uncertainties of the Anthropocene.
We are equally interested in the changing role of the architect and will ask how we may empower communities to meet their evolving needs through the deployment of flexible spatial assemblies.
Projects will focus on a challenging disused depot site in East Ham, Newham, with council estates to the West and low-rise to the East. The unit looks to promote a positive working and living environment for a range of ages, ethnicities and skill sets hoping to bring the divided together, promoting skill sharing and celebrating diversity.