PROJECT TITLE: Mass observation and public space
Vicky Richardson

Interior Urbanism expands the approach of the interior designer to the public realm. Using the Mass Observation Archive as initial inspiration, we looked at what is meant by ‘public’ using various methods of observation to understand urban space. Despite the increased restrictions on movement and assembly due to Covid, the students aimed to reclaim the principle of freedom as the foundation of urban life.

After studying public spaces including Trafalgar Square, the South Bank and Peckham Levels, Camden Town was chosen as the location for a group masterplan and individual thesis projects (with one exception being a site in Dungeness!). The students conducted interviews with visitors, workers and residents; and worked with Japanese architect Toshiki Hirano on techniques for observing and documenting features of the urban environment, influenced by the Japanese Lost Items Research Institute of the late 1960s which used discarded objects as clues from which to deduce patterns of urban behaviour.

The projects presented here propose new approaches to the occupation of urban space, new places of public assembly, dark spaces where young people can be free at night and the reclamation of significant buildings for use by forgotten communities. I am proud of the students for coming up with such generous and open-minded proposals at a time when the city has been out of reach for much of the year. Despite working in isolation, their collective spirit is strong.