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The Architectural Association

Hongyu Si, Nupur Gandhi, Pouyan Mohammadi

The high street is an important place for fulfilling the social needs of people. Due to the advancement of technology, such as online retail, there is a change in the social behavior of people as they exceedingly tend to perform functions remotely and therefore at a much faster pace. This has reduced the percentage of people going to the high street and thereby the social interaction between them. Furthermore, due to this advancement, there is an increasing amount of underutilized space in existing functions. In order to protect the essence of the declining high street as a space for social cohesion, the proposal intends to develop a new system by redistributing existing social and cultural functions in underutilised spaces.

The functions are redistributed optimally as per the requirements of the site informed by the number of people visiting and existing functions on the site.

The proposal also aims to use the available underutilised spaces on different floors. This approach helps to break away from two dimensional urban planning and provide a three dimensional planning system which also helps to elevate the street. The functions respond to the changes that occur in functional requirements on a bi-daily and seasonal basis. This adaptability in function helps in creating additional spaces for activities of culture and leisure using underutilised spaces such as parking and retail spaces leading to reinvention of underutilised spaces. In order to support the concept of adaptable functions, transformable modular systems have been adapted on a local level. The system uses timber in the form of a recycled material in this modular system in lieu of the current climate urgency.

A multi-scalar computational approach has been adopted which takes into consideration global, regional and local scale using data sets extracted from real usage of the site of Oxford street in order to design spaces comprehensively for the well-being of citizens by adding functions of social cohesion and community value.