Housing and Urbanism MA/MArch Jinxin Ma (MArch), Transforming housing estates: housing morphology conceived for multiple age groups structured around health, recreational, and educational services, EmTech, 2018


Directors: Jorge Fiori, Lawrence Barth
Staff: Elad Eisenstein, Dominic Papa, Elena Pascolo, Anna Shapiro, Francesco Zuddas, Rodrigo O'Malley

Housing and Urbanism enables students from architecture and related disciplines to understand and address the complexities of urban transformation to become stronger professionals, scholars, and critics. While design learning and investigation form the core of our programme, a complementary aim of this work is to deepen students’ grasp of the politics and practicalities shaping change in today’s cities. We work across scales – from detailed plans of contemporary housing to the mobility infrastructure of the regional metropolis – and our primary interest is in projects that further the positive transformation of urban areas. A capacity for critical synthesis drives all our work and enables students to understand their project as the coalescence of a range of urban forces, trends and ideas.

This course comprises four study areas: Complex Living, which focuses on emerging trends in housing and urban lifestyles; Workspace Urbanity, which promotes intensive integration of work environments into the contemporary city; Mobility and Integration, which explores the projects that best unlock the potential of new mobility infrastructure; and Augmented Informality, which works with the dynamism of informal settlements to find new solutions for urban enhancement.

While London forms our primary research laboratory we also undertake an annual European study trip to investigate cutting-edge projects elsewhere, such as Berlin, Paris, Copenhagen and Vienna. In addition, every year, H&U collaborates with a host city and university in a sponsored workshop addressing a specific live challenge under conditions of rapid change. Our previous partner cities have included Bogotá, Recife, Taipei, Hanoi, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, and Mexico City.




The core of the H&U curriculum, this course teaches students to investigate and respond to the urban process through design reasoning. Working in teams (and with the close participation of faculty), students are introduced to a specific but complex set of challenges faced in London today through which they learn to understand, envision and initiate urban transformation by means of set projects. We emphasise argument through design, building a capacity for comparison and evaluation. The course develops research, drawing and writing skills while encouraging collaboration, discussion and invention.


This course establishes the conceptual and theoretical foundations through which architecture brings a capacity for critical synthesis to the urban process. We learn how architects incorporate lessons from a range of fields – from geography to politics and philosophy – and draw these lessons into a reflection on urban form. Also, with a series of case examples, we explore how the project comes to drive forward a critical response to the existing city and encourage evaluation and reflection.


Any project today contains a history. Urban change is shaped by judgements and reactions to previous solutions, and in this course we explore a series of ongoing debates to understand the evolving landscape of our cities.
The material is organised around the specific themes and challenges we are researching in the Design Workshop, enabling students to explore the broader disciplinary history of their particular areas of research and proposition.

Term 1

There is a social and economic context to housing and urban change and, in this course, we introduce students to the key themes and debates which social sciences bring to our understanding of this context. Placing emphasis upon policy, planning and urban governance we enable students to understand how developments are shaped by transnational economic forces and the political debates corresponding to them.

Term 1

Urbanism arose as a specific eld of problems for the governance of Western liberal societies and in this course we introduce students to the deeper political history which continues to play out in arguments about urban change. The lectures and readings are structured to enable architects to gain fundamental understanding of politics and government, so that we have a richer grasp of the complexity of today’s urban problems.

Term 2

Informal and irregular processes are involved in the making of cities the world over and in some cities come to dominate much of their fabric. In this course we explore the way housing offers a strategic mode and tool for intervention in these processes. By comparing a range of contemporary cases, we will assess design approaches and policy instruments associated with the transformation of informal urban areas.

Term 2

The inner life of the dwelling is a scene of constant tension, speculation, and evolution. While the ideal of the family continues to stand at the core of this turbulence, a broad and increasing range of alternative living modes call for attention today. New patterns of shared living, assisted care, serviced residences and more are all demanding design evaluation and development. In this course, we explore both the history and the contemporary challenge of housing design and transformation.

Term 3

By the end of the second term, students will have decided upon their area of design research for the thesis. During Term 3, students present their initial research within seminars grouped around shared thematic interest. These seminars enable peer-based learning and discussion to complement directed and intensive individual research and design development.


Lawrence Barth is an urbanist. who has consulted internationally on urban strategies for both architects and landscape architects. He has also led planning and design projects for contemporary knowledge environments and has lectured and published on urbanism, politics, and sociology. Lawrence is an advisor to the board of the International Urban Development Association, INTA.

Jorge Fiori is a sociologist and urban planner. He has worked in institutions in Chile, Brazil, and England and is a visiting lecturer at several Latin American and European universities. He is also a consultant to a number of urban development agencies. He researches housing and urban development focusing on the interplay of spatial strategies and urban social policy.

Elad Eisenstein has held a number of directorial positions in urban design, including Arup and Mecanoo. He has extensive international experience, delivering large and complex projects with an emphasis on sustainability and shared value and covering a range of themes from eco-cities to evolving metropolitan centres and challenging city-centre transformations.

Rodrigo Joseph O'Malley currently coleads BDP’s urban design team, having previously collaborated with a number of renowned offices in the UK and in Spain. As an executive committee member of the Pan-American Observatory of Landscape, Territory and Architecture (OPPTA) he has been responsible for the management and organisation of ideas competitions in the American continent.

Dominic Papa is founding director of s333 Studio for Architecture and Urbanism. He has completed projects worldwide and covered a range of briefs from masterplanning, multi-residential housing, office projects, to next-generation knowledge environments.

Elena Pascolo has worked in London and South Africa on large-scale housing and urban regeneration projects. Her current research is focused on Regenerative Urbanism and developing spatial and institutional translations of the City as Commons . She is a co-founder of Urban Projects Bureau.

Anna Shapiro is an associate partner in urban design at Sheppard Robson Architects. She leads the masterplanning group and is responsible for a range of strategic urban projects covering themes from housing, regeneration, medical and educational clusters, to changing approaches to retail- led integrated environments.

Francesco Zuddas holds a PhD in architectural history and co-directs the practice Urbanaarchitettura. He is a visiting research scholar at GSAPP, Columbia University and Central St Martins. His current research focuses on the relation between higher education and the urban condition and his writings have appeared in AA Files, Domus, San Rocco, Territorio and Trans.

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