Drawing from the recently ended occupation of the LSE Vera Anstey Suite, LSE FREE seeks to provide a more permanent space within the upcoming Houghton Street redevelopment for the continuation of student-led group learning and discussion. In particular, FREE LSE aims to accommodate the complex range of self organised activities as demonstrated by the occupiers, namely, a space to hold egalitarian roundtable discussions, seminars, debates, films, lectures from guest speakers, the collective drafting of memorandums, advertising and demonstrating, eating, socialising, and perhaps even some sleeping too.
Like the emergent social organisation, FREE LSE seeks to facilitate, this project was derived from participative user exercises within the Vera Anstey Suite. We discussed the power of space to shape human behaviour, and in particular, how space can be used to both enable and control certain actions. Three key themes that emerged from these discussions have been incorporated into FREE LSE – equality, informality, and centricity.
Management of this space might be overseen by an advisory collective of student society representatives, staff representatives and a spokesperson from the Student Union. It is however intended that the space is predominantly maintained by its users – whoever they may be and whatever ideological principles they represent.
Spatially FREE LSE represents simplicity, with the only permanent features being an openable glass facade facing onto the new public square at Houghton Street, a debating well in the centre of the room for formal and informal activity, and storage space for mobile furniture at the rear. It is intended that this simplicity will in its flexibility be able to accommodate a wide variety of functions into the future so that self-organised students and staff might continue to provide a continual reflexive critique of modern education in the UK in the long term.
Simon Hicks BA (Hons) MSc FRSA
Simon presently holds a position at the LSE Law department where he is part of a research team focussing on the interplay between architecture, urban planning, justice and due process. In particular, this research questions whether legal architecture and planning can simultaneously be publicly accessible and considerate of the presumption of innocence whilst maintaining its power and legitimacy.
His undergraduate degree was completed in Architecture at the University of Sheffield, whilst his postgraduate degree was conducted at the LSE in Regional and Urban Planning, where he was awarded two prizes for best overall performance. Simon has formerly worked across a broad spectrum of sectors, including commercials architectural practices, the housing charity sector, and in research roles at a think tank and property consultancy. Simon has also assisted in setting up and managing an NGO that specialises in community consultation for urban neighbourhoods without strong social capital and continues to provide community-led research and propositions at his local Neighbourhood Forum.