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To Let London

As a trading city London has had a relationship with the rest of the world for over two millennia and during the British Empire was the centre of the industialising world.  with a history of housing both the very rich and the very poor. But with the…

London’s property is known around the world as expensive and a secure investment. It is advertised all around the world by developers as an investment opportunity. It only has New York for competition as being considered a truly global city.

Wealthy Britons, Chinese, Russians, Saudis all invest in it, buying up huge swaves of propoerty particularly new developments. Similarly many move here to find work, escape weakening economies or high taxes, and take advantage of the drop in the value of the pound. Add to this the massive numbers of people who want to live in a city because of it universities, fininical district, creative industries, culture and beautiful weather and you get huge demand for properties. This demand has racked up property prices so its becoming increasingly hard for first time buyers and young people to live in the city. Huge areas of the cities as exclusively wealthy challenging London’s place as an equal, diverse and fair city.

For the V&A’s Architectural Programme they challenged us to come up with ideas to excite young people about the V&A archive, based around an issue of our choosing. To do this we devised an interactive installation investigating property prices.

In the TO LET installation participants were encouraged to play a role as a young couple looking for a house in London. Randomly selecting both an income and location on a target and having to look for a house. then asked to use the telephone and internet to research whether they could afford to rent a one bedroom property in their given area of London and monthly wage. People phoned estate agents to see what properties were available by role playing their new life. For instance one participant had £100k + job and needed to find a property in the Holborn area. She decided that she owned a Ferrari so called a bemused estate agents wanting to make sure the property and area was safe and the Ferrari would be secure. Whilst this was a fortunate situation many other participants were less lucky having to find a property in a high rent area with an average or low wage so couldn’t find a property within their price range and so had to put a black cross on their location on a wall map, theoretically becoming homeless or having to move farther afield.

We are interesting in building on the idea perhaps with a national charities working on housing issues.

"Architecture Study Day: Students exploring income and renting in London, during a workshop from Something & Son."

RIBA Education: Highlights of 2012