RCKa Studio Late: Transcending Boundaries

17 July 2019

RCKa has always believed that there are many ways architects can be more engaged with the people and communities who live and work in – and around – the places we create.

This can take many forms. We have helped communities with fundraising, such as our TNG Youth Centre, where we supported local young people to prepare a funding bid to the government’s MyPlace scheme, securing the full capital cost for the building.

Our involvement in design review, engagement with local and national policy, and wider interest in issues relating to the built environment enables us to expand our influence beyond the traditional role of the architect.

 

For the London Festival of Architecture we hosted a brief talk about this wider work at our studio in Shoreditch. We welcomed a wide audience of clients and architects where the three directors spoke about some of the work we were engaged with in addition to the practice’s built work.

The three directors sit on more than a dozen design review panels, both within London and beyond. As well as commenting on major projects, this has enabled us to input into emerging policy: for example, the Croydon Place Review Panel was used as a sounding board for the development of its award-winning Suburban Intensification SPD. The Mayor of London’s Design Advocate Panel has been involved in developing a quality policy to improve commissioning of public buildings across the city.

"Architects are uniquely placed to connect professionals across the industry with local people to make things happen."
Dieter Kleiner

We believe that thought leadership is a key opportunity for profession. Through our relationship with Project Compass we have promoted best practice procurement which promotes quality and innovation through public projects. Our keen interest in emerging policy and experience in challenging locations encouraged us to publish a short guide on how to unlock small sites – we have sent out 250 copies of our “Small Sites: Demystifying Development” publication since the beginning of 2019.

The provision of affordable homes is another broad and challenging issue which we continue to engage with. Through the development of Common Home, alongside our partners Native Finance, we have developed a unique funding and construction model which allows us to provide truly affordable homes for outright sale to Londoners. We are currently in discussions with several boroughs on how to deploy Common Home on council-owned land to help address housing need.

Opportunity-led assessment of sites which can add social value to communities is another way architects can influence local authorities and housing associations to maximise their assets.

Our work with Hammersmith & Fulham council and the Edward Woods Estate community has resulted in the ongoing development of the Nourish Kitchen. We are currently assessing 23 existing community centres for L&Q where we will be looking at opportunities to better serve the local communities which rely on them. We realise the value in engaging with local residents from the outset, as this embedded knowledge and insight of the area is invaluable in uncovering the social and economic context which are so often ignored.

The success of community-led regeneration is evident in The Granville, which has continued to receive recognition since it’s opening last year, and recently won the coveted Community Prize at the New London Awards.

We’re grateful for everyone who came along on the evening, and for the excellent questions and feedback we received afterwards. We’re always keen to hear from people who share our interests and ambitions. Architects often underestimate their influence, believing – incorrectly – that they only have a small part to play in the positive growth of our city. This is a myth we’re keen to challenge.