London, UK

RESOLVE is an interdisciplinary design collective that combines architecture, engineering, technology and art to address social challenges. They have delivered numerous projects, workshops, publications, and talks in the UK and across Europe, all of which look toward realising just and equitable visions of change in the built environment.

Opening up to transversal interests

The 2016 London Design Festival was the start of our journey as a studio and a collective. It was an opportunity for us to work in our local neighbourhood, and we designed, built, and programmed a temporary pavilion. For two years, we continued to work only in our local areas, collaborating with community groups that were doing invaluable social work and local creatives who were creating radical spaces for joy, activism, and knowledge sharing. Then, in 2018, we were selected for the Future Architecture Platform where we presented our work in Ljubljana and this kickstarted professional relationships and projects in Europe, opening our studios focus to both local and trans-local work.


A sly gathering

For a recent exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, we were exploring the concept of ‘re-wilding’ through workshops with local young people, introducing them to a neolithic technique called flint knapping which involves striking flint rock to produce forms that can be used to make tools or masonry. To get a lot of this rock, we had to drive many miles away and dig it ourselves, which was backbreaking work. One day, the young people realised that you could actually get a much lower-quality flint from the beach, although taking it was technically illegal (as one unimpressed beachgoer told us!). That day they decided to spread out across the beach and spend the morning slowly collecting beach rocks in a way that didn’t arouse the suspicion of local visitors or the authorities, and we joined them!


Finding a sweet spot

Each week is largely determined by the roster of projects we have, some of which take us to various interesting corners of London, the UK, and Europe. This week, for example, was split between London, where we lead an undergraduate unit at the Architecture Association and run our studio, and Hamburg where we designed an exhibition titled "Wasser Botschaften" at the MARKK. Our private lives are often sacrificed when things are busy, but the aim for everyone in our studio isn’t to work ourselves into the ground; family and friends are still a huge part of all of our lives.


A shared space

We spent the last 5 years inhabiting abandoned and leftover urban spaces, such as decommissioned apartments, old medical buildings, and vacant storefronts. Our current studio building, which is a vacant commercial unit within an old shopping mall in Croydon, South London. The studio is made entirely from reused materials that we have accumulated, many of which have survived previous projects. In there, we have a large working area for our team of five, a chill-out space, a small kitchen area, and a workshop space where we store our tools and equipment and also use it to build new works and prototype ideas. We often open up our studio to other groups and practitioners in our network for workshops, exhibitions, and meetings and see it more as a shared resource than a private space.


Across fields and disciplines

We have an interdisciplinary team of practitioners from architectural and non-architectural backgrounds, which is something that we cherish. When we started, I don’t think there was a coherent vision of what the disciplinary outcome would be, only that we wanted to develop expertise in community-focused work. This led to many beautiful surprises, but also lots of painful and difficult processes of self-determination. One thing I think we certainly didn’t see coming was our current involvement in the art world, whether working as part of exhibitions, designing exhibitions, or being part of residencies. Had you asked us six years ago about RESOLVE being in a gallery, I’m sure we would have all laughed.


A steady trajectory

Our realistic goals in the next few months are to establish our presence in our studio’s neighbourhood in Croydon, to sensitively grow our capacities for delivering projects, and to revise a number of our now outdated internal processes, such as our documentation protocols, our extremely out of date website, and our project delivery structures. For the first goal, this requires funding that we are currently raising from various funding bodies and continuing conversations with other local groups in the area. For the second, this means hiring, and excitingly, we have just closed a call for another team member! And for the last, we are trying to make time this year to collectively address this side of our practice.

RESOLVE group photo 1 credit Jana Dardouk Akil Scafe SmithPhoto by Jana DardoukCroydon studio space photocredit Anselm Ebulue Akil Scafe SmithPhoto by Anselm EbulueSheffield Residency photo by Reuben James Brown Akil Scafe SmithPhoto by Reuben James BrownMK Big Shop photocredit Chris Henley Akil Scafe SmithPhoto by Chris HenleyLIDO De La Warr Pavilion Rob Harris  Akil Scafe SmithPhoto by Rob HarrisBrighton CCA RESOLVE Collective Low Res 30 Akil Scafe SmithPhoto courtesy of Resolve Collective

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