Economy Class

A one-day symposium curated by Richard Hall exploring architecture as an economic matter


10:00am, Thursday, 21 January 2021


05:00pm, Thursday, 21 January 2021

All talks are free and accessible to everyone, but for security reasons, we do require attendees to have a registered Zoom account.

All times are stated in UK time (GMT)


Add to Calendar

Join Symposium

Make a Donation


Alternate text

Guest Curator

Richard Hall

Richard Hall is a senior associate at East. His work encompasses a breadth of design projects and research activities concerned with architecture and the city. He has taught at London Metropolitan University, as well as lecturing and leading workshops internationally. He was educated at the Leicester School of Architecture, London Metropolitan University and the AA, and previously worked at OMA.

Architecture is always an economic matter. A conscious economy of means is as essential to shaping a work of architecture as it is to the discipline’s ability to productively operate within, and contribute to, reality more broadly.

This symposium is concerned with the various economies at play around and within architecture: those we are subject to and those we subject our work to. Examining brief making, representation, spatial clarity, housing design, construction processes, cost and quality control, value measurement and city management, the notion of economy will be framed as a contextual, conceptual, operational and, ultimately, architectural quality. Taking the pervasive doctrine of ‘more, cheaper, faster’ as a cultural backdrop, we will consider the capacity for architecture to critically and responsibly translate constraints into pleasures. 


10.00      Introduction by Richard Hall

10.30      Hikaru Nissanke (OMMX)

11.00      Aslı Çiçek

11.30      Hugh Strange

12.00      Lucy Pritchard

14.00     Pablo Hereñú 

14.30     Alison Coutinho 

15.00     Hans van der Heijden 

15.30     Nana Biamah-Ofosu 

16.00     Panel Discussion with Bo Tang, Paul Vermeulen & Philip Christou


Alternate text

Hikaru Nissanke (OMMX): Real Estate

Real estate is often ascribed value according to established measurement practices, such as when calculating GEA, GIA and NIA. OMMX will reflect on the legacy of standardisation in the production and trade of architecture, particularly the predominance of the metric unit and cartesian understanding of space. In their work they’ve been looking for a less narrow and less abstract measure of a place, one which is tied more directly to the human experience.

Hikaru Nissanke is a founding director of OMMX, a practice that promotes alternative ways of building that aren’t just about how a neighbourhood looks and feels, but also who and what it stands for. Their approach is rooted in academia but is above all grounded by practice and dialogue with clients, consultants and communities. 

Alternate text

Aslı Çiçek: Economy of Drawing - Reflections on Waste in the Image Culture

When we speak of economy in architecture, we tend to focus on the economy of means related to the act of building. This topic leads quickly to discussions on how to deal with waste of materials, time or energy. During recent years, however, there is another stream that produces a new kind of waste in architecture: the rapidly circulating images, endless amounts of drawings, visual statements, which serve as eye catchers rather than the proper articulation of an architectural project. This presentation aims to reflect on this recent phenomenon and to contemplate drawing’s potential as a design method instead of its pure and quick digestion as a representation tool.

Aslı Çiçek is an architect living in Brussels, and a guest professor in architecture departments of Hasselt University and Ghent University. She regularly contributes to architecture magazines, co- edited the 11th Flemish Architectural Review and is member of the editorial board of OASE journal for architecture.

Alternate text

Hugh Strange: Walter Segal and the Rigorous Simplification of Building Process

During construction of his own house in London in 1963, the Berlin-born architect Walter Segal built a temporary structure within the garden space in which he and his family would live during the main works. The construction of this interim dwelling established a number of principles he was to pursue for the remainder of his career, later characterised as the ‘Segal Method’. The rationale of the temporary house was centred on the use of readily available, mass-produced and dimensionally coordinated materials. These off-the-shelf elements were employed with minimal on-site alteration, and fitted, with dry jointing, into a timber post and beam structure that was dimensioned according to standard insulation slabs and plywood sheets. The omission of wet trades, and the reduction in secondary alteration, transformed the nature of on-site work towards a process of assembly. In the following decade the method was developed and refined in a number of private house commissions, always with a view towards rigorous simplification of process. Segal was eventually able to apply his method of building to a series of self-build houses on council owned land within the London Borough of Lewisham; the radical simplicity of his approach allowing unskilled residents to construct their own houses with their own hands.

Hugh Strange is principal at London-based firm, Hugh Strange Architects. In parallel with his practice he is currently undertaking a PhD at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design.

Alternate text

Lucy Pritchard: An Economy of Land: Urban Design for the City without End

Lucy will discuss urban design centred on an economy of land, using the bastides of southwest France as an example. Secondly, she will demonstrate the adaptability of a bastide – Monpazier – through a project to redefine and reactivate its land management at different scales, from individual house to region, over time. Her thesis suggests that the economy of land need not be thought of as reductive, but instead, where required, could allow architectural design to operate with focus, at scale.

Lucy Pritchard has recently completed her PhD by practice which concerns Monpazier, a bastide in Southwest France, and addresses the ongoing development of its surrounding agricultural landscape. Alongside her design research, Lucy is a project director for the urban design and public realm consultancy Publica, contributing to both strategic urban design and research projects by the practice.

Alternate text

Pablo Hereñú: Attributing Value

This presentation reflects on the relationship between economics and architectural practice from two specific points: processes of attributing value and strategies for expanding demands and outcomes. The value of material and immaterial resources involved in each project situation is not something given to the architect, but a construction where the field of architecture is of great importance. Similarly, the demands of each project are not just those requested by the clients. Identifying these implicit demands and incorporating them into the briefing is also a construction where architecture plays its role. The discussion will be organized through concrete examples, where these issues can be clearly identified.

Pablo Hereñú is a São Paulo based architect and teacher. He has been a design professor at Escola da Cidade (São Paulo) since 2003. Since 2002, he has been the director, along with Eduardo Ferroni, of H+F Architects, a practice focused on urban places, public projects and their social role.

Alison Coutinho: Keeping Design on the Cost Agenda

With 70+ live developments, c 245 completed homes and c 25 planning applications currently under determination, my role at Brick By Brick is to deliver a highly ambitious housing programme in Croydon, London. This isn’t just about statistics however, the programme is shaping communities and influencing people’s lives at a Borough-wide level and an individual level. The enormous social and architectural responsibility sits alongside the absolute requirement to be a thriving development company, and it is imperative that cost and quality controls have an equivalence. Alison's talk will cover what these controls are and how they are implemented.

Alison is responsible for the delivery programme at Brick By Brick. She has extensive experience in design management having practised architecture for more than ten years and latterly held a senior position at Berkeley Group. Alison also sits on the international RIBA Validation board and has mentored with the Stephen Lawrence Trust and Construction Youth Trust.

Hans van der Heijden: Housing, a systemic design task

Housing architecture may be reduced to an unqualified cultural craft putting the candles on the cake of construction economy. If this is true, even just to a minimal extent, architects should reflect on housing design in systemic ways. Innovation of any modus operandi will have to be measured against their effectiveness. Hans will address three particular dimensions of housing design. First, architects will have to be more accurate in understanding what their market is. An impressive attempt to do so has been made by Lukas Imhof and Miroslav Sik with their book Midcomfort. Second, architects will need to be able to negotiate on their work, or better: to take part in the decision-making process on key aspects of the scheme. An analysis of Luigi Snozzi’s Monte Carasso village renewal illustrates how this engagement resulted in architecture. Third, architects must conceptualise the production of their building beyond the fragile design detail. Production has to be understood through the full supply chain and should include site operation, time scheduling, risk management etc. 

Hans van der Heijden is an architect with a portfolio of housing, urban design, re-use, cultural buildings, and research. He co-authored four editions of the Dutch Architecture Yearbook. He has been a professor in Cambridge and is lecturing at the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture.

Alternate text

Nana Biamah-Ofosu: Locating Generosity

Nana will explore how the sense of how generosity is often held in direct opposition to 'economy’, ‘economical' or ‘everyday’, through photo essay presenting six occurrences of generosity in the mundane or economical situations.

Nana Biamah-Ofosu as an architectural designer, researcher and writer practising in London, UK. She combines practice with teaching at the Kingston School of Art and The Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. Nana is particularly drawn to the complexities of the modern African city and the relationship between the individual artefact, the house, and its connections to the collective, the fabric and structure of the city.


Panel Discussion

Bo Tang, Paul Vermeulen & Philip Christou

Dr Bo Tang is senior lecturer, Architecture of Rapid Change and Scarce Resources (ARCSR), at London Metropolitan University. Since 2006, Bo has been exploring collaborative civic placemaking through teaching, research and hands-on live projects with her design studios in informal urban settlements in India, Nepal, Sierra Leone, and more recently in Athens and London. She is co-editor of Learning from Delhi (2010) and The Architecture of Three Freetown Neighbourhoods (2013), and co-author of Loose Fit City (2018).

Paul Vermeulen is an architect, writer and founding partner of the Ghent-based office De Smet Vermeulen architecten. He is a professor at TU Delft, leading the chair of Urban Architecture. In 2011 he was awarded the Flemish Culture Prize (Architecture) for his contribution to architecture, its culture and its criticism.

Philip Christou is Professor Emeritus at the London Metropolitan University where he taught architectural design and worked in the Architecture Research Unit studio together with Florian Beigel from 1985-2017. He is the Director of Florian Beigel Architects and lives in London.