R:Evolution_Whiteley Village, Surrey

Whiteley village is located in Hersham, Surrey and is a private residential estate built in the Arts and Crafts style in 1914, providing homes and facilities for the elderly. My design thesis proposes the insertion of a new demographic into the village community – a product design business incubator for young professionals. Drawing on the experience of the existing retired community, the businesses will manufacture and test new products in proposed extensions to the original buildings. In order to explore how this new demographic could be absorbed into the existing community, I took my proposal to the villagers of Whiteley and asked them to discuss with me how they would interact, react and merge with the professional inhabitants. After having invited the villagers by way of an introductory booklet posted through their letterboxes, I presented a film, book, models and drawings to illustrate the designs, as well as giving a presentation followed by a lengthy Q and A session. This then sparked many debates – both between themselves and with me – where they began to question the dynamic of the village as existing, and how the new proposal would affect their lives. With many citing that the new proposal would actively improve their day-to-day lives by giving them a sense of importance that stretches past the vicinity of the village itself, the event brought to light many aspects of the proposal that were impossible to discover or assess without the consultation of the village. The exhibition itself also gave me the opportunity to refine the skills needed to present to potential clients, steering discussions and debates and interacting outside of architectural circles. The presentation has since been featured in the Whiteley Village newspaper. This project formed part of Sam Brewer's Graduate Diploma Thesis and Future Practice. See the full project at the 2013 Degree Show, 31 May 5-8.