Professor in Residence, Department of Architecture, GSD, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA
This essay explores the relationship between a group of design professionals, a community of residents, and a local council in the early stages of the Tustin Estate renewal project – a Master Plan and Phase One Regeneration for a south-east London post-war housing estate. In 2021, the estate’s residents voted in favor of demolishing and rebuilding its low-rise buildings in a residents’ ballot. This essay positions Tustin Estate’s engagement phase as a notable case study for community-led design, providing an overview of London’s introduction of resident ballots in estate development, leading onto the example of Tustin Estate’s ballot, which initiated its engagement strategy. Interviews with key members of the engagement process form the central research to this essay, which explores the role of ballots in estate regeneration; approaches to building authentic engagement; the importance of community ownership; and how listening enables knowledge transfer and creates a blueprint for longevity. The essay defines longevity as the culmination of design and build solutions based on principles drawn directly from residents’ needs, each of which being robust enough to avoid demolition for the long-term.