Unearth the Micro-CityShin Egashira
Diploma 11 has been collecting leftover matter, unplanned spaces, incomplete objects and accidental architecture throughout London. These are the live expressions of time and places that inspire us to imagine micro-cities, leading to alternative architectural strategies that assemble fragments and celebrate a city that is beautifully incomplete. Our approach is empirical. Interpreting the city through direct contact, we sample textural details by reading their histories and stories. We will start by briefly revisiting the sites our unit has explored over the years and conclude our journey on the theme of micro-city.
We will focus on an inner area of London: the redevelopment of Euston Station, which is estimated to open up approximately 2.5 million ft2 of mixed-use development, possibly increasing the number of platforms for a new High Speed 2 railway that will connect the city to the Midlands and the North. The rebuild will have a direct impact on certain landmarks in the surrounding area including Euston Square; a church burial ground; hundreds of council homes including Somers Town; a Victorian office block may be demolished; Royal Mail could be forced to close a crucial distribution centre; and the National Temperance Hospital, which has been empty for years, is set to be sold off to the highest bidder despite calls for it to be used as social housing.
Our research will cross-examine these masterplans and their surroundings: the environment, social sustainability and details of its architecture. We will speculate on a micro-urban unit that will be investigated parallel to the existing plans and see how the proposals may compensate for the lack of health care and learning facilities throughout the city.
Responding to a series of ‘what ifs’ we will articulate the simplest forms to condense and clarify the essential matters that we unearth and discover. Our challenge is to attempt to define what makes up London today, as an antithesis to the Starbucks and Holiday Inn homogenisation that has engulfed the city, and what are the layers and levels of complexity that form this urban definition.
Shin Egashira makes art and architecture worldwide. His recent collaboration experiments include the rebuilding of Alfred Jarry’s ‘Time Machine’, ‘How to Walk a Flat Elephant’ and ‘Twisting Concrete’, which intend to fuse the old with the new. His work has been exhibited in Japan and Europe in venues such as the Spiral Garden in Tokyo and the Venice Biennale. For the last 16 years he has been conducting a series of landscape workshops in rural communities across the world including Koshirakura (Japan), Gu-Zhu Village (China) and Muxagata (Portugal). He has been Diploma 11 Unit Master since 1996.