This year Studio 4 continued to work within the rural setting of the South Downs National Park, specifically in the Ouse River Valley between Lewes and Newhaven. This region is a unique shift away from the rolling hills of the Downs and is the floodplain infrastructure for that region. Primarily occupied as farmland in the flat regions, this has also seen the emergence of a naturally rewilded biological reserve in its deepest region known as the Brooks. Hugging along the edges of the floodplain is a handful of villages that we claim will be dramatically affected by the global environmental changes that we are facing.
Typically the village was a settlement type for those that tended and farmed the local land. We asked the studio to rethink and update this view in the hope to reinvigorate the village as a key infrastructure for the surrounding ecologies. Along the way we asked the studio to look at the MAT building typology to develop new village fabrics. They were asked to rethink Mies van de Rohe’s quote “Less is More” and what that now means for the discipline. They were also looking at rewilding as a new territory of consideration to bring into the manifold of architects’ tools to engender more integration with surrounding ecologies. The studio made trips to the site and a visit to the Knepp Wildland Estate where they could see the impact of a rewilding strategy maturing into new possibilities for inhabiting the countryside.