Could a global re-reading of sprawl help us generate a new kind of city that goes beyond both the urban and the suburban?
Sprawl is the physical and spatial result of deregulation; what happens when the state looks the other way. In history, it has happened outside the gates of the merchant city city, when innovations in transport outpace urban plans, or when population changes disrupt the state’s expectations. Today, sprawl is built neoliberalism – the free market given form. Whether high-end high-rise apartments for foreign investors, or office-to-residential conversions, super bunkers, or beds-in-sheds, it is creating new forms of society and new forms of culture.
This year ADS2 will take the phenomenon of sprawl as its site. We will focus our attention on a space that is typically – and deliberately – ignored. Our intention is not to mimic or correct sprawl, but to address it, to locate projects in this ubiquitous but often overlooked spatial phenomenon.
ADS2 is interested in producing architectural research and design that is of public use outside the studio, at the same time as using the potential of studio research to challenge the world in which architects work. We encourage projects which are unconstrained in design and political ambition, and have critical relevance to, and impact on, the issues and forces at play in development and in society. ADS2 engages critically with the messy and problematic realities of housing, publicness and spatial justice as they stand today in the UK. We use architecture as a tool to imagine ways out of current inequalities, observing society as it is in order to propose how it might be.
SPRAWL is the third in a series of enquiries into the role, or otherwise, of the state in urban development, following projects on the Metropolitan Green Belt and the post-war New Towns.