The Design Workshops are a key part of the H&U programme, providing a frame of investigation through design proposals connected with real urban situations, as a way of testing the ideas and strategies that are explored through the lecture and seminar courses. There are two main components: one is the Group Workshops in which students and tutors form small teams working to explore and develop design responses to well defined urban challenges; the other is the Urban Seminar with presentations and debates on different approaches to key themes in the programme’s areas of research. These research areas are about new approaches to innovation environments; issues of housing and living space; poverty and the informal city; and the concepts of urban intensification and density.

Each year the workshops engage with several locations. The main workshop is in Britain, and has focused recently on changes in the inner periphery of London, a context of rapidly evolving policy and design ideas. We also organize an annual intensive workshop in another country, in collaboration with schools, architects and policy makers in the host city. This year we worked in Tainan in Taiwan. In recent years we have run intensive workshops in Hanoi, Shanghai, Mexico City and in Rio de Janeiro.

Both in London and abroad the workshops have addressed the processes of urban development related to knowledge-based economies, and the potential for synergies between existing and new urban cultures, questioning what will make the productive and creative cities of the future.