In the &rchitecture atelier we argue that difference is not a mistake that needs eliminating, but the potential for creating a more just society. Without engaging with different people, contexts and methodologies, our thinking and practices remain unchallenged. This limits the architect’s ability to address the complex and fluid conditions we practice in. We believe that difference itself should be valued for its creative potential, and be the starting point for all physical and conceptual activity. This year we explored how housing design can support different kinds of people to live well together. We chose a site in Withington, Manchester working with local partners including the main social housing provider and developer in the area.

Using speculative design techniques and narrative as a design tool, we investigated difference through the lenses of ability, identity and agency. We first applied them to ourselves and then to our projects at every stage of the design process. We asked “What if?” and explored extreme future scenarios which turned out to be not so extreme when the world faced the Covid-19 pandemic. Suddenly, our investigations became even more relevant and questions of resilience and inclusivity are even more important now, when a new, post- pandemic world is emerging.

Following &rchitecture agenda, we firmly positioned ourselves as citizens capable of making a difference, creating affective spaces in cities and buildings.