L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui (AA) magazine caught up with Julia King, Architectural Designer and Urban Researcher at LSE Cities, London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE). The recognition of winning a Holcim Awards Next Generation prize in 2011 enabled the project to move from being a speculative project to something that eventually was built.
L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui (AA): How did the Holcim Awards impact your debut as a professional architect?
Julia King (JK): Winning a Next Generation prize was one of the critical moments that shaped my career early on. The award enabled the project – a proposal to bring sanitation to a peripheral community in Delhi – to go from a speculative proposal to something that eventually got built.
Looking back, I cannot stress how important a platform this was, and how valuable an experience it was to participate in the wider community brought together under the umbrella of the awards. Being part of this community has connected me with academics and practitioners who supported and continued to support my career in various ways.
AA: According to you, what could be the main action levers, in the industrial field, for a more sustainable and conscious construction?
JK: The enormity of the threats posed by climate change, and the imperative to curb them, forces us to consider the fact that we need a completely different way of ‘making’ places, organised around a different set of values to deliver truly sustainable and conscious construction.
The fundamental problem around city making is that the industries around the production of architecture and the built environment are the most intrinsically interwoven – and even actively promote – an economic system that exacerbates environmental destruction and climate change. A clear way the sector can begin to tackle this is to foreground (and celebrate) and repair (of buildings) as a method to re-think the process of construction, and the resources that are demanded.
AA: Could you briefly tell us about your current research topics and projects?
I currently work out of LSE Cities where I teach, design, and conduct research. I have recently set up the ‘Apprenticeship Programme in City Design’ which is a novel outreach programme for young adults from London to learn through practice. Uniquely for such a scheme, outcomes will influence the real-time design development and realisation of several public space projects that will be realised from 2021 onwards. I am also working on a project which is ‘Exploring Racial and Ethnic Inequality in a Time of Crisis’, and ‘Rubbish, Resources and Residues’ a project that is investigating the need for integrated approaches to solid waste management in Ethiopia and Pakistan.
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