suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
alexander COTTERILL: The Traders’ Commune envisages a society of total self-sufficiency that aims to embrace and regenerate the surrounding area. In reaction to the current economic climate and deterioration of outer cities, the project acts as a critique of the development and decline of a failed planning model in Brighton’s suburbia.
The site (situated in Moulsecoomb, Brighton) has a history hindered by a 1920’s planning model, employing a ‘shared garden’ green space as a communal focal point to the seemingly idyllic surrounding suburb. It is the constant growth, increased traffic density, decline of the surrounding suburb and the failure to obtain economic support that has continued to aid the decline and ultimately, failure of the “Model Garden Suburb.”
In response to the site’s failings, the Traders’ Commune proposes to introduce complete urbanisation, mixing a series of corresponding programmes (growing, processing, trading and living) to adjust and enhance the urban fabric. Through these programmatic layers the project starts to evolve, each one responding to the site’s failures: communal usage, increased employment, economic growth and social vibrancy.
The project explores individual self-expression through architectural personalisation to break down the social boundaries created in a suburban housing environment. A continuous superstructure acts as a horizontal division between the private realm of the trader and the public forum of the street. Traders (the inhabitants) attach their own individually linked spaces in order to evolve their personal dwellings. Through constant reconfiguration, the idiosyncratic topology creates a community-oriented social fabric and challenges the immediate suburban social order.
A series of extensive streets become visual exhibitions of the inhabitants living either side. It is then within the subtle distinctive acts of personal desire and commodification, as well as the daily routine of a trader, grower and processor, that the shared street truly comes alive.
The Traders’ Commune aims to question how, through architectural personalisation, inhabitants can break down social barriers created in mass housing projects, ultimately helping to deliver a generic, self-made and fluctuating urban environment.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
aC: The project started as reaction to the currently economic climate in Brighton and very much by Constant Nieuwenhuis’ New Babylon.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
aC: I was reading The Children of Men by PD James whilst developing the project.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
aC: For me, Go Hasegawa is producing some really interesting work at the moment, exploring tensions between client brief, material and context.