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Regenerating King's Cross: A Topology of People, Place and Urban Life

Regenerating King's Cross: A Topology of People, Place and Urban Life

Central Saint Martins
Taught by
Nuno Coelho, Tom Spooner, Lucy Bullivant, Richard Carter, Maxwell Ryan, James Sanderson


Drawing on the radical walking-based methodologies, and critical practices, of the twentieth century continental avant-gardes, this course presents students with an opportunity to engage with, challenge, and rethink, the various facets of contemporary urban life which construct our understanding of the physical world. This course offers an opportunity for architects, designers, and artists, to study, and reimagine, the everyday spaces located in and around the area of King’s Cross, London, the largest mixed-use regeneration development to take place in central London for over 150 years.


This course will comprise of a series of insightful and challenging guided tours, lectures, workshops, group-based discussions, and periods of self-directed working, aimed at gathering data, evaluating it, and processing it through informed visual outputs. It has been devised as an explorative research methodology in which the design, and realization, of tangible outcomes are encouraged.

This methodology is based on four distinct stages: 

  • Observation / Research
  • Synthesis / Identifying opportunities
  • Generating ideas / Designing
  • Evaluation

Placing emphasis on collaboration, and cross-disciplinary approaches to working, we are inviting practitioners from a range of backgrounds to come and take part. With an objective of addressing the city design process through a range of perspectives, this course aims to broaden conceptions of conventional design processes. It encourages participants to draw from a combination of their own personal, and collective, observations of the site as outsiders, and from the perspectives and experiences of the people, who inhabit, and use, the site. 

King’s Cross has a notorious history of economic decline and social problems, and is currently undergoing a crucial stage in its redevelopment. It is home to two major public transport hubs and a combination of commercial, residential, cultural and educational spaces, which present opportunities to work with local communities in redefining the physical and perceived nature of the site. Over a two-week period, participants will be required to explore and embed themselves within the site, and to collaborate in the design, and possible insertion of, pragmatic, and socially engaged interventions. The aim is to address the need for more research into the often neglected, but essential components of public space, such as, social networks, behavioural patterns, and perceptual dimensions, which inform our experiences of the modern world. The outcome is a better understanding of the reality of urban life, namely the interaction between people, situations, technology and architectural / urban infrastructures. The course aims to foster new ideas and approaches that participants should also be able to take away and utilise within their own personal practices. 

This course has been devised by Moments Like This, a multi-disciplinary art and design practice of designers, architects, artists and thinkers, who, working with local partners, aim to initiate inclusive site-specific projects. We prefer to work with smaller groups to ensure the best possible experience is provided for all those involved. The number of participants for this workshop is limited to 25. 

Level  Intermediate

Entry Requirements Students should have a good command of the English language, spoken and written.

We welcome students who are considering applying to study within an arts or humanities based discipline at an undergraduate level, and those who are already studying at an undergraduate level and beyond. We will consider students who are already studying, or interested in studying, within the following areas:

  • Architecture
  • Urban Planning
  • Product design
  • Interaction Design
  • Anthropology / Ethnography
  • Illustration
  • Graphic Design
  • Moving Image
  • Humanities / Critical Writing
  • Fine Art
  • Creative Writing

Please note: This course is for students aged 18 and older

Tutor Description

Nuno Coelho is a design theorist, lecturer and curator. After his MA in History of Design at the Royal College of Art, Nuno has published several papers, curated exhibitions and lectured extensively, both in Britain and overseas, on topics ranging from aesthetics to social and political design. Nuno currently lectures on critical theory at Central Saint Martins in London. Last year he held a series of workshops on psychogeography during Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven and this summer he held a series of lectures for the Travelogue Summer School held at the University of Porto, Portugal.

Tom Spooner is a London-based illustrator, writer and lecturer, and is currently studying for an MA in Visual Communication at the Royal College of Art. His practice is driven by a fascination with the urban landscape, the socio-political structures of public space, and ideas surrounding place. Walking-based praxis and observational drawing initiatives take the fore in his approach to image making and work as processes for study of the built environment and its impact on human consciousness, individually and collectively. He has lectured, run workshops, contributed to exhibitions, and self-published a number of books in these fields.

Dr. Lucy Bullivant Hon FRIBA is a place vision strategist, curator, award-winning author, consultant, founder and Creative Director, Urbanista ( her webzine on liveable urbanism, and Built Environment Expert, Design Council Cabe, London. In 2010 Lucy was made an Honorary Fellow of RIBA for her services to architectural culture globally. She is curating and delivering projects for the Place Vision programme for Meridian Water, a mixed use scheme led by Enfield Council, is publications director for the Sustainable Urbanism: New Directions project (Qatar University) and Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2017 (bioTallinn), and curatorial director with architect Alex Furunes of a participatory project for the São Paulo Bienal of Architecture 2017. Her publications include 4d Hyperlocal (AD/Wiley, 2017), Recoded City: Co-creating urban futures on participatory placemaking (co-author Thomas Ermacora, 2015), Masterplanning Futures (Routledge, 2012), Book of the Year, Urban Design Group Awards, 2014, and New Arcadians: Emerging UK Architects (Merrell, 2012).

Her curatorial work includes exhibitions: Urbanistas: women innovators in architecture, landscape and urban design (Roca London Gallery, 2015)), and the We Make – Remake thematic pavilion, Shenzhen Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (2015-16), Space Invaders: new UK architects, an international touring exhibition (British Council, 2001-3); The near and the far, fixed and in flux, for the XIX Milan Triennale (2006), and conferences such as Softspace (Tate Modern, 2007). Lucy has been an investigative journalist since the early 1990s, publishing features in The Guardian, The Financial Times, Domus, a+u, Domus, Metropolis, The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Review, AD, Uncube and The Plan. ArchMarathon and the LEAF Awards are among the international architectural competitions for which she has been a jury member.

Richard Carter is a practising architect entrenched in the terrain of the London regentrification industry. He has led a variety of commercial architectural projects which include public space, social housing and estate regeneration, education and commercial using a borrowed definition of 'sustainability' which focuses on the social and the psychological, as well as the environmental. He was project architect for the multi-award winning Deptford Lounge and Tidemill School and Giffin Square and the associated residential regeneration of Deptford Town centre from 2008-2012, and out of the limelight on gritty estate regeneration projects at the edge of the Olympic park (2015) and East Croydon (2012-15) currently working with Carson & Sall architects since 2015.  He formed part of the 'Spirit of 68' collective during Occcupy London (2012). Raised in the Far West and graduating from the Universities of Bath in 1998 and East London in 2002 he remains influenced by an early experience in Copenhagen where he was introduced to the idea of architecture as 'social sculpture' in the manner of Josef Beuys and Henri Lefebvre, remaining wedded to the outmoded idea that architects have a professional obligation to improve spatial justice for all. He sometimes wears black.

Max Ryan is a graphic designer, programmer and occasional writer researching and critiquing the relationships between online networks, institutions and graphic design. Previously Max studied at the Royal College of Art and while there went on to form Studio P2P along with fellow graduate James Sanderson. As a studio they frequently work with educational institutions such as the London College of Communication, the Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths as well as organisations like Brompton Design District and Culture Trip on projects centered around typographic, exhibition & digital design.

James Sanderson is a graphic designer, typographer and visual communicator. After studying at the Royal College of Art, James teamed up with fellow RCA graduate Max Ryan, to set up Studio P2P. A design practise which focuses on graphic, exhibition & digital design.


Students should bring the following materials to the first session:   

  • Sketch book
  • Laptop
  • Smart phone
  • Camera (optional)
  • Sound recorder (optional)

Please note that all other materials will be provided by the college, and may include: 

  • Digital cameras
  • Camcorders
  • Sound recorders
  • Tripods
  • Pens and pencils
  • Paper
  • Free Wifi

Suggested reading list:

  • Non-places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity by Marc Auge
  • Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space by Jahn Gehl 
  • How to Study Public Life: Methods in Urban Design by Jan Gehl and Birgitte Svarre
  • Social Justice and the City (Geographies of Justice and Social Transformation) by David Harvey
  • The Production of Space by Henri Lefebvre
  • Genius Loci: Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture by Christian Norberg-Schulz
  • Space and Place by Yi-fu Tuan 
  • The Social Life Of Small Urban Spaces by William H. Whyte

Available dates

If no dates are showing then please Enquire about this course and we will contact you when new dates are published.