ENTRY #451

Studley Commons by Oscar Rodriguez, Christina Edoja, David Rowe, Eike Sindlinger, Paul Challinor, Barry Mulholland


Studley Commons (SC) illustrates a framework for an Urban Commons within a social housing context where its residents become the Commoners. Exploitation of “resources” is primarily for the benefit of residents and secondarily that of the wider, local community. SC’s programme will strive to improve Commoners’ lives by delivering services in the fields of health, social cohesion, skills/employment creation and access to platforms supporting collaborative work and play. This is delivered by activating existing vacant spaces and eventually, if deemed agreeable by Commoners, intervening on underutilised spaces, like its large interstitial greens, with temporary structures.

The key enabling innovation is the introduction of Studley Hyperlocal (SH); a commercial, retrofitted rooftop greenhouse horticultural operation on the roofscape of the Hyde Group-managed 16 blocks of the Studley Estate (SE) in Stockwell and the ceding of a proportion of SH’s equity to SC affording it a dependable “Social Dividend”, committed to developing its programme of activities and initiatives. As SH progressively occupies SE’s roofscapes, raising its financing from private investors, social impact funds and other funding mechanisms supporting innovations, SC develops its programme through continual engagement with its Commoners within Studley Forum (SF). This move is crucial to securing SC by alleviating dependence on volunteering and public funding and is enabled through the complementary nature of SH and SC’s core activities, intersecting at the promotion of healthy living and greater food literacy.

SH draws horticultural inputs from SC/SE resources including human, waste (organic, thermal losses, carbon exhausts, etc…), and incident (sunlight, rainwater, etc…). SC benefits directly from SH’s social dividend, food outreach programme and complementary security strategies. SH and SC therefore co-evolve in tandem, reflecting this in their management structures which drive the search for operational and metabolic synergies on a dependable financial framework.


Oscar Rodriguez, Director, Architecture & food, Lead Author
Oscar is an architect and Building Integrated Agriculture specialist advocating for how urban food production can serve the urban realm beyond its core technical remit in disintermediating supply chains and into its more social dimensions. The core question he wanted to answer was how to secure a Commons into the long term and embed sufficient flexibility into it to respond to changing demands.

Christina Edoja, Senior Housing Officer, The Hyde Group
Christine has worked with the Stockwell community and offered her insight into the nature of the “beast” as she calls it. The Studley community is complex and Christine has her reservations about whether the interventions on the greens would be well received. She sees the participatory process, like that proposed within SF, as crucial to maintaining SC’s relevance and securing community buy-in.

David Rowe, Estate Services Manager, Studley Estate, The Hyde Group
David Rowe has worked with the Studley Estate for over a decade and explained how the estate is managed, the day-to-day issues it faces and how some of the spirit of the proposal has already been enacted through Hyde Plus initiatives. He also highlighted the wide range of technical challenges that retrofitting greenhouses onto SE’s roofscape would raise, declaring it by no means an easy feat.

Eike Sindlinger, Senior Architect, Arup
Eike has worked on numerous Urban Agriculture projects at a macroscopic/masterplanning scale and is one of Arup’s leads in this field. His expertise challenged the model proposed and tested it against parameters he has encountered, working on projects with similar ambitions.

Dr Paul Challinor, Horticultural Consultant, The May Barn Consultancy
Paul provided core horticultural expertise supporting the development of SH. He is confident that there is scope for considering such a model once the technical challenges are understood and the market comprehensively analysed.

Barry Mulholland, Director of Horticulture, Adas UK
Barry provided a more top-down view on how the proposal would have to comply with F+V regulations and further horticultural expertise.

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