A Common Room for London by Evgenia Batmanova, Sandra Perez, Katerina Sfyra
As living in London becomes less affordable, we have seen a rise in house sharing, particularly in areas located close to public transport and amenities. It is not uncommon to see a flat where the occupants decide to turn common areas into another bedroom to make the space where they live more affordable. This, in turn, is leading to overcrowding and, from our experience, a diminished sense of community due to lack of space for social interaction, sociability, and conviviality.
Recent projects have demonstrated that re-activation of spaces and enabling meanwhile uses in otherwise forgotten or under-used spaces can have a meaningful and transformative effect on communities. Common Room for London proposes to activate urban commons, giving space back to London’s residents in a way that is site-specific and adds value to its locality. It is a catalog of cheap, sustainable and easy-to-assemble modules that can be mixed and matched to create shared pop-up venues for playing, meeting new people, working or simply lounging! The temporary structures can be easily taken apart and moved elsewhere, providing the opportunity to test new ideas and activities that would otherwise not be possible due to increasing land values.
By demonstrating the types of uses that people in a certain locality use, enjoy and wish to promote, the overall aim of Common Room for London is to enhance a sense of community, safeguard the social value that commons bring to local residents, and empower communities to engage with Local Government to discuss the best way to safeguard leisure, retail and other non-residential uses and inform funding bids to provide spaces that are currently lacking.
Common Room for London can be delivered be through volunteering, crowd funding via websites such as Spacehive, Government and private funding.
Evgenia Batmanova is an architect and urban planner specialised in urban regeneration with working experience in Russia and the UK. Recent experiences include socio-economic analysis and marketing material for the Clipstone regeneration project and financial analysis supporting social infrastructure investment decision making for the Warwick District Council.
Sandra Perez is an architect and urban planner specialised in high streets regeneration and development finance. She has worked in architectural offices in Mexico City, New York and Barcelona. She has started her own architectural practice in London and is currently a regeneration and planning consultant in London, supporting Councils to deliver regeneration and high street projects.
Katerina Sfyra has studied architecture at the National Technical University of Athens and has a master in Urban Regeneration from the UCL Bartlett School of Planning. She has worked as an architect on a variety of projects and is currently working in London as an urban regeneration and design consultant.