My thesis is about an architecture that is inherently social. I’m interested in play in everyday life and play in the process of making and tectonics. In view of this, my project addresses the need to empower, sustain and reward key workers in Tower Hamlets, acknowledging essential workers as the undoubted backbone of society, especially as demonstrated by the ongoing Covid19 pandemic.

Tower Hamlets has an existing Key Worker Scheme specifically for ambulance staff/paramedics, NHS nurses, fire-people, police, and teachers that serve in Local Education Authority. My proposal provides a combination of 1bed2people and 3bed5people units. 23% of the population of the Borough work in Public Admin, Education and Health.

I began my overall thesis exploration with my first studies on a site nearby on Cable Street, unravelling the concept of a nursery as a collection of toys in a toy box. I looked at the nature of balancing, stacking from the ground, treating the ground as a wild green space primarily for vegetation, and the playful relationship between elements and connections.

My research then focused on being in communion with nature, whereby human beings rely on and find pleasure in the natural world, living things and plants. There are green roofs, allotments, playground area, trees, garden spaces, planting regions for wildflowers and suchlike.

My approach to the design was to vary the standard terrace typology and stagger it in such a way sunlight could enter the main living spaces and also that the navigation through the building was full of revelatory twists, turns, varying heights, and juxtapositions.

I heard it said that “When children play, they are rehearsing life. When adults play, they are suspending the rules of life”. My hope is that this proposal for key workers would give them the respite and pleasure they deserve while temporarily suspending the rules of their chaotic lives.

The low-lying winter sun illuminates the kitchen/ dining/ living area in the afternoon through the large window. Foliage animates the exterior balcony, railings, and live mesh façade. As this is housing for essential workers in Shadwell, this project reconnects key workers with nature through community, rest and wellbeing.