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Life-Long London: A Counterfactual History

Royal College of Art, 2008

Our society is getting on in years. Increasing life expectancies, accompanied by a drop in births, is leading to a drastic shift in our age structure – a process that calls for new strategies and responses in a great variety of areas.

In 2001, for the first time in the UK, there were more people over the age of 60 then under the age of 16. By 2051 an estimated one in four people will be over the age of 65.

Life-Long London is concerned with diversity, vibrancy and inclusion in the City of London. Within the context of a global recession it is important that we reconsider the use of our existing building stock. In this scenario, we imagine the City of London as it would be now had the Miesian proposal of the late 60s been realized, as opposed to the James Stirling building, on the site of no. 1 Poultry. Within this counterfactual history, we test a new hypothesis for ‘active-ageing’.

A policy of hybridization forces, in a short space of time, a cross-breeding of typologies – school, care-home and office building.

A process of appropriation of under-used, neglected and left-over space reaches a critical mass and embeds itself as an institute for life-long learning.

The language of the architecture subtly alters the existing urban fabric – playground markings and signposts appear on the streets of the City. At the heart of the project, the ghost of a Miesian tower once planned for the site is reinvented as the school for life.
 
 
© Thomas Greenall