BA BArch RIBA FRSA AoU
Robert Sakula is a partner of London-based Ash Sakula Architects, which he
founded with Cany Ash in 1994. Previously, he worked for Clough Williams-Ellis,
David Lea, and DEGW.
Ash Sakula’s award-winning projects include Hothouse, LCB Depot, Chapter,
Tibby’s Triangle, the UK Centre for Carnival Arts, Exhibition Mews, the Deptford
Project and The Malings. Current projects include Wickside in Hackney Wick,
housing projects for the London Boroughs of Hackney and Bexley, town-centre
regeneration for Ashford and a custom-build housing scheme for Dartington in
Robert Sakula has taught at the Bartlett, the AA, London Met and East London,
and examined at Westminster, Kent, Newcastle and Liverpool. He is a RIBA
Competitions Advisor, jury chair for RIBA and Civic Trust Awards and a member
of several design review panels including Newham and Design South East.
We will work on a landscape with an invisible history, at first glance a place measured by supersized pylons and industrial sized sheds. This is a place where driving dictates the timeframe and cars are the ticket to an accepted public interface with services and goods. We will delve into the future to reverse these preconceptions, reclaiming the pace walking and as the measure of the landscape. Through this simple reframing opportunities will emerge to create a radical incrementalism. This new form of romantic stewardship driven by people’s desires for a more productive interaction with nature is fiercely pragmatic. It refuses the foggy lens of the happenstance celebrated in the Romantic tradition, instead the energy is funnelled, focussing down on tactile detail and inter connected details to develop an architectural landscape which grows its own curators, releasing a pent-up stream of surprising hyper local businesses.
Edge of cities have been doubly vulnerable to bombastic top down planning seeking uncomplicated stories, or timid mealy-mouthed versions of suburbia comforted by old stories that no longer fit our age but hark back to old utopias as witnessed in the recent revival of the Garden City models. We are going to be proposing a new way of extending the urban fabric in ‘Nature along the Corridor. We will find some local voices and invent many others ‘actors’ to write overlapping complex future narratives. We will have the arrogance to dictate to these people of our future scenarios because once we have peopled the landscape they are empowered to speak back and start a rooted detailed discussion. Too much masterplanning is simply silent and silence as we all know is infertile.
Ten days is a short timeframe in which to work, so we will introduce a constraint in the form of a picture frame; working from a single perspectival point to create a bird’s eye view of the territory. We will work in the manner of Yann Kebbi using a mix of pencil, coloured pencil and Photoshop. We will set up a website in Webflow or Readymag allowing visitors to zoom in and travel accompanied by micro stories through the enlarged imagery of each project.
Each participant will work independently on a ‘farmstead’ and the business of its occupants; a farmstead that is productive, driven by a particular ethos and ambition and open to the public for commerce, volunteering and relaxation. Within a few days, we will have dozens of ‘jigsaw pieces’ to place intelligently in relation to each other and existing communities drawing in the intriguing historical fragments and fast busy edges. The codesign will be fed by intensely personal architectural responses to the brief and the collage that emerges will both be a metaphor for the new edge city and a form of briefing towards making it happen.
Cany Ash studied at Cambridge and the University of Westminster. She co-founded Ash Sakula Architects with Robert Sakula in 1994 to pursue cultural urban development projects through diverse means, working with communities, arts organisations enlightened developers, public bodies and self initiated projects.
The practice was Supreme Winner in the 2016 Housing Design Award for the Malings, a new neighbourhood on the banks of the River Ouseburn in Newcastle and in 2017 its Wickside project in Hackney Wick was Overall Winner in the New London Architecture Awards.
She has been an actively involved in crafting future policy in housing and education and is currently a member of the Design: South East review panel. Cany also runs Adaptable Neighbourhoods, a strand of Ash Sakula researching the ingredients of great neighbourhoods, how to build densely and activate public space.
As well as London, Cany has lived and worked in Berlin and New York, and it was there that she helped pioneer the world’s first farmers’ market.