Community Maintenance Club

Community Maintenance Club
Photography: Zhuo Chen
A community-led initiative by residents, local skilled people and architects working collectively towards a retrofitting and caretaking future

Vang-Anh Tran, Zhuo Chen, Wing Nga Tam
London, United Kingdom
We are a group of architecture designers based in London working collectively on a community-led maintenance, repair and retrofit.
Team members
Zhuo Chen
Wing Nga Tam
Vang-Anh Tran
Field of work
Architecture, Design, Ecology, Photography, Research
Project category
Project submitted

Vang-Anh Tran is an architecture designer and maker based in London, recently graduated from the Architectural Association.

Zhuo Chen is an architecture designer and photographer based in London, recently graduated from the Architectural Association.

Wing Nga Tam is an architecture designer base in London, recently graduated from the Architectural Association and previously studied at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Community Maintenance Club started with a shared vision of community-led upkeep, retrofitting, and future-use stewardship among residents, local craftspeople and architects.

In the UK, after the introduction of Right to Buy policy in 1979, the role of social housing turned from being a social infrastructure to a commodity for transaction. The lack of funding at local council has led to drastic decrease in housing provision and lack of maintenance for existing housings. Since then, majority of the housing stock has suffered from poor upkeep and deteriorating conditions.

Boundary Estate is one of the fist council housings in the UK, built in 1990. The estate is currently in poor condition, with issues such as damp and mould, causing potential health hazards. Our initiative started sharing the idea with the residents that, by involving residents themselves in low-level repairs and maintenance, and make use of the skills of people living on or near the estate where feasible to create active community involvement in the upkeep, retrofit, and future use.

We began our investigation through archival research, flat visits, photography and analyses. The current management approach tends to be reactive and passive, resulting in prolonged waiting and processing times. Very often, the repair condition has decayed too severe by the time the council is able to address the issues.

We propose a shift towards a more proactive, collaborative and community-driven approach to maintenance by tapping into the diverse skill sets of residents living within both the estate and the surrounding. In cases where specific skills may be in short, there is opportunity for training and upskilling. Since Summer 2023, we have been collaborating with the residents to explore current condition and retrofitting opportunities through skill and knowledge exchange. We aim to establish a network of collective infrastructure involving institutions, authorities, local skilled people and resident.