6.9.2022

House Block

Automated Architecture Ltd (AUAR) Labs, a research laboratory at The Bartlett School of Architecture, directed by Lecturers in Architecture Mollie Claypool, Gilles Retsin, Manuel Jimenez and Senior Research Fellow in Public Engagement Claire McAndrew, presents House Block, a temporary housing prototype in Clapton, East London from April — May 2021.

House Block asks what our environment could look like if our homes were not static structures, but could evolve over time? What if there was no set design, but an ecology of elements that constantly reorganise through automation? Could we even dare to think of a future that democratises access to building systems – one that alleviates the housing crisis and supports more equitable labour practices threatened by ever increasing automation?

House Block is designed and built using a discrete housing system — a kit of parts (analogous to lego), known as Block Type A. Each block is milled from a single sheet of plywood using CNC machines and assembled by hand, then post-tensioned. These are considered to be ‘discrete’ because the blocks are not fixed, instead offering the opportunity to be assembled, dismantled, reconfigured and reassembled over and over again.

The prototype demonstrates what could be achieved if we were to think about participatory approaches to housing where local communities make use of digital modes of production. Our four takeovers, hosted by The Building Centre (19-25 April), The Good Thing + Gonzalo Herrero (26 April – 2 May), Studio Wayne McGregor (3-9 May) and L U C I N E (10-16 May) provide live demonstrations of this potential, as the blocks morph over time into configurations that support different needs, provocations and conversations.

House Block is delivered in partnership with London Borough of Hackney as a part of an exploration of digital approaches to community-led developments.

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