ON/OFFPublic House: Social Architecture Commission

Rhombi House, courtesy & copyright Matthias Kestel.
Rhombi House, courtesy & copyright Matthias Kestel.

On Lincoln’s Ermine Estate, following a period of research and development ON/OFF Collective; an interdisciplinary design studio based in Berlin, will be exploring the potentials and possibilities of public spaces through the development of collaboratively built architecture made for and with Ermine Community Action Group and citizens of the Ermine.

During the first phase of the project in November, ON/OFF visited the Ermine to meet with members of the local community and run a mapping workshop, to better understand the social and geographical context. In February, ON/OFF will return to initiate a mobile “Public House,” a series of communally-built and roaming shelters that will come together in an ad hoc parade through the estate. The shelters are centered around a warm hearth that invites people out of their homes and onto the streets. The goal of the project is to engage conversations around a recent decline in public sites, including the uncertain future of The Lincoln Imp Pub, reduced Ermine Library opening hours as well as the upcoming demolition of the Ermine Methodist Church, and to incite a playful and collaborative community action.

Established in 2012, ON/OFF are a collective of designers and architects working primarily with the city, exploring the potentials of public space as a site for questioning and re-imagining how we relate to one another and to our cities. ON/OFF’s practice explores the in-betweens and overlaps of the urban experience to engage citizens in an immediate relationship with their environment. Experimenting with disparate technologies and tools, they aim to challenge conventional ideas of inhabiting and sharing space.


Public House is a project and piece of social architecture developed for and with residents of Lincoln, created by ON/OFF design collective members Nick Green, Alison Hugill, Michael Maginness and Dan Dorocic, with the support of Lulu Lentini, Andrew Jackson (Lincoln historian & Geographer), Selina Tarnowska (Art & Architecture Intern at MotF), Ermine Community Action Group, Ermine United Reformed Church, St John the Baptist Church, Ermine Community Action Group, the citizens of the Ermine Estate and the University of Lincoln.

Presented by Mansions of the Future as part of their Urban Form: Social Architecture & The Commons season. This programme of activity marks the start of the Mansions of the Future’s legacy year (2019 – 2020), which intends to engage artists, architects, academics and local citizens in conversation and debate around the past, present and future of Lincoln’s social and civic life, within the context of the local built environment.

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