At ARCSR we have sited our hypothetical design projects in a rolling design studio programme located in transitional settlements within peri-urban edgelands surrounding the rapidly growing cities of Delhi, Agra, Mumbai (2003-2013) Kathmandu (2014-2017), Freetown (2010-), Athens and Calabria (2016-). All of these settings concern the situation of recent migrants either intranationally from the countryside to the town or internationally fleeing poverty or war to the edge of Europe.
Work within the geographically defined research areas chosen for hypothetical studio design projects, begins with an investigation of cultural and physical topography as a basis for understanding ‘place’; which can sometimes lead to live projects with a high level of fit between intervention and context. Both the research topic and the research questions are derived from the matters of concern expressed by the occupiers of the places chosen for investigation. This approach requires an ongoing dialogue with the occupiers (or constituents) of the place (or site) and an engagement (through surveys and small making projects) with its changing materiality and spatial form. Drawing on anthropology, ethnography and techniques of participatory engagement the researcher attends to the narratives of particular individuals and small groups through the lens of an architect working in turn as; (1) a detective (investigating place), (2) an author (developing a narrative brief) and (3) a craftsperson (crafting an intervention with an appropriate fit to place).