Radical Kitchen: FOCUS E15 and Architects for Social Housing

Find out more about the Radical Kitchen programme here: http://www.serpentinegalleries.org/exhibitions-events/radical-kitchen

26 July 2017 – FOCUS E15 and Architects for Social Housing

The Focus E15 campaign began in 2013 when a group of young mothers were served eviction notices by East Thames Housing Association after Newham Council cut its funding to the Focus E15 hostel for young homeless people. Due to cuts to housing benefit and a lack of affordable housing in London, the mothers were advised they would have to accept private rented accommodation as far away as Manchester, Hastings and Birmingham.

Architects for Social Housing (ASH) was set up in 2015 to respond architecturally to London’s housing ‘crisis’. It is a working collective of architects, urban designers, engineers, surveyors, planners, film-makers, photographers, web designers, artists, writers and housing offers support, advice and expertise to residents who feel their interests and voices are increasingly marginalised. While its primary responsibility is to existing tenants and leaseholders, ASH also seeks to find viable alternatives to estate demolition in the interests of the wider London community.

Mazí Mas

On eight Wednesdays in July and August, a London community group or campaign organisation assembled in Kéré’s Pavilion at 1pm to share their recipes for creating and sustaining meaningful social change in the city. Deepening the connection with food, these groups met over a meal prepared by Mazí Mas, the pop-up restaurant and award-winning social enterprise established for and run by migrant women. Visitors to the Serpentine Pavilion were also able to purchase food by Mazí Mas, with all proceeds going back to their work.

Daily life in London is challenging for many due to rapid gentrification and the displacement and dispersal of many once tight-knit communities. How can the city sustain a sense of community and resilience? Founded in 2014, Mazí Mas are a powerful example of a project making meaningful impact on the ground. Recognising that many migrant or refugee women are locked in a cycle of unemployment, Mazi Mas gives skilled home cooks training, payment and support to create sustainable livelihoods for themselves.

Inspired by this model, the Serpentine invited other groups creating sustainable projects and campaigns in their communities to this new strand of the Pavilion programme. Themes of care, solidarity, survival and resilience run throughout the work of the eight groups involved in Radical Kitchen, who tackle issues as diverse as housing rights, gentrification, food poverty, unemployment, migration, motherhood and community empowerment. These weekly talks opened up discussion to the wider public, exploring questions developed in conversation with Francis Kéré and building on his own ideas of socially-engaged architecture, as embodied in the Serpentine Pavilion 2017.


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