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Strategies for Backlands

Part 2 Project 2011
Shaun Young
Will Pirkis
Kingston University Kingston | UK
It is perhaps restrictive to imagine the high street as a linear condition. The thriving high street of our collective nostalgia may not be in decline due to lapses in its commercial frontage but due to the gradual de-densification of its backlands; the spaces behind the high street but connected to it.

It seems important to recognize the contribution that backlands sites make to the high street as a sustainable economic infrastructure, and the part they play in defining the character of the wider city. The projects presented here suggest ways to stabilize and bring an appropriate level of coherence to the fragile but complex relationships that define London’s backlands.

The projects develop a language of construction in response to the pragmatic requirements of light industry and commerce. The projects aim to bring an appropriate level of coherence and legibility to the found condition, by developing a dialogue between an architectural tradition, which has evolved over many centuries to address similarly everyday conditions, the pragmatic requirements of the site and its users, and the experienced qualities of the sites.

Architectural elements borne of necessity such as sills, pediments and cornices have come to be understood as images which transcend their function, these elements are absorbed into a recognisable language of building. At once necessary and familiar, these elements operate at both the level of everyday use and as carriers of wider cultural or aesthetic meaning. The projects attempt to weave the everyday requirements of London’s backlands with the familiar images of an architectural tradition.

Shaun Young
Will Pirkis


Daniel Rosbottom
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