Civic Architecture in Tolworth

Civic Architecture in Tolworth

Unit 5 proposes a re-appraisal of the traditional role of the architect, shifting the status quo, working on the periphery of the existing system to engage directly with people and materials to create delightful and empowering civic architecture.


Unit 5 have been working with the local community interest group The Community Brain for the last two years, developing an effective working relationship and network of local people to design and realise projects to strengthen and inspire the community. We will continue the collaboration this year, with a series of built interventions and speculative architectural proposals for our local community in Tolworth.

We will start our year with a participatory project called the ‘Green Shed’. A fleet of four mobile garden structures will be completed by members of Unit 5 and the local community to provide awareness, tools and materials to cultivate unused sites in Tolworth in October 2017.

With the Community Brain we will ‘adopt’ Tolworth railway station as a base for our group construction project. Built in the 1930’s in an austere modernist style the station is an emblem for Tolworth. Neglected and disconnected but brimming with personality and potential. We will also participate the annual Seething community festival in February 2019, by re-erecting the mobile festival float Surbiton Yatai from the last year.

Our main thesis project will involve architectural and public realm propositions to rejuvenate the disjoined town, opening up new opportunities for the fractured community and reinforcing local identity.


The Unit will engage with the community in Japan, by participating the regeneration programme initiated by the UK non-profit arts organisation Grizedale Arts. We will travel to a rural village in south east of Japan in November 2018, and conduct an intensive 5-day workshop to design and build a structure to support their community infrastructure. The traditional and contemporary Japanese architecture we visit will be the source of inspiration and references.