UPDATE 01/07/2020: We have now successfully crowdfunded to raise funds to transform The Common Room. Read more here>>
The Common room is today a partnership project between Roman Road Trust and Public Works. It was an initiative that started in 2014 as part of joint project between Roman Road Trust, London Metropolitan University, Clarion and the Council’s Enterprise Team.
Twenty students from Cass School of Architecture opted to take a three-year course on Roman Road for their Fine Art and Architecture BA degree at London Metropolitan University.
The students looked at ideas for reimagining the high street including improving shop frontage, use of pavements and public realm space, street furniture, empty shops and even pocket parks.
The students also designed and built (by hand!) a small community room from which to operate. The temporary structure is built on land owned by Clarion housing association.
The course was run by Torange Khonsari, Senior Lecturer and Architecture Tutor. Khonsari is also the founder and director of art and architecture practice Public Works and specialises in a grassroots-led approach to public realm and high street master plans.
“I believe in an inclusive and slow regeneration model,” says Khonsari. “The slow approach is required to make sure one understands the different social and community groups; has time to accrue a deep understanding of local concerns, desires and knowledge, and can act incrementally so locals are involved in the process of place making.”
Khonsari’s grassroots approach is aligned with the RRT’s commitment to a citizen-led regeneration of the road. “Time and again we see ‘top-down’ architect-led urban master plans floundering and failing through lack of local knowledge” says Tabitha Stapely, CEO of the RRT.
“RRT believes that long-lasting regeneration is best achieved ‘bottom-up’, working in partnership with local residents and businesses. We approached Khonsari because we felt the students’s involvement over a three-year period would compliment our long-term vision for creating a more resilient community with a sustainable governance.”