The significance of art and culture in our society has never been more critical, with its ability to nurture tolerance, understanding and creativity. DSDHA believes that our role as architects, urban planners and spatial strategists is to safeguard our cities' cultural and economic wellbeing by protecting these cultural places and the smaller interstitial spaces that support them. And yet the spaces of production, employment and dissemination of art and culture face unprecedented levels of threat. The crisis that this poses to the future of the UK's cultural industries was the focus of our research with students of the London School of Architecture (LSA) in 2017 as leaders of a Design Think Tank, the product of which we summarised in our research project Mess: Spatial Strategies for London’s Cultural Infrastructure
Each project we undertake begins with an interrogation of the urban environment and public space that surrounds the given site, with a view to identifying connections to existing and new cultural institutions to establish what we call a ‘Cultural Landscape’. This methodology is inspired by architects Alison and Peter Smithson’s celebrated approach to urban planning, in which they suggest that buildings should be thought of as ‘containing within themselves a capacity to act with other buildings: they should be themselves links in systems’.
Our values are wholly reflected through our work in this sector, which encompasses individually crafted buildings for the production and enjoyment of culture as well as public realm and landscape projects that might be described as that 'Cultural Infrastructure' that makes this culture inclusive and accessible to all. We collaborate with artists and designers to realise their vision, such as the studio and workshop for renowned jeweller Alex Monroe
, and a studio and gallery for artist Edmund de Waal
. We work with local and global community assets like the National Youth Theatre, and our research commissions inform high-profile public realm projects such as the re-landscaping of the area surrounding Royal Albert Hall and the Albert Memorial in Albertopolis
or our work with the British Library.