what drives us?

ft’work’s aim is to create thriving communities and to ensure that social principles are adopted as a fundamental component of good design and development. With mounting pressure to build new homes and whole neighbourhoods, economic expediency is drowning out the need to create lively and diverse places with a sense of their own identity. Research shows that in thriving communities people stay put. They have a sense of self-determination, are mutually supportive and feel secure. They have varied opportunities to mix, to work and to play.


There is a wealth of evidence but we urgently need to apply it.

the more integrated a community - socially, ethnically and economically - the more likely its success

local character is determined by the cumulative effect of people’s experiences of a place and we destroy this social fabric at our peril

rapid turnover and displacement destroy cohesion and are causes of a failing community

ft'work is gradually building a resource, including research papers, newspaper articles, opinion pieces and links to other organisations. Let us know of things to add


ft’work was founded by architect Clare Richards. Following a career making social interest documentaries, she trained as an architect believing that she could help transform the living conditions she had witnessed. She discovered that architecture schools don’t teach you about the social purpose of design, so spent an extended period researching both the history of place-making and the factors that determine whether communities thrive or fail. In Happy Communities (RIBA President’s Dissertation Medal 2010) she explains that good design alone does not have a transformative effect on people’s lives; to create communities when we build places, social needs must first be recognised and addressed. She has worked extensively on community-based projects, leading consultations and collaborative design. ft’work has been a Patron of the London Festival of Architecture for the past 3 years and is a regular contributor to New London Architecture’s ideas and research initiatives. Initially prepared in response to the New London Plan consultation, ft’work has recently launched a set of social design principles.

social design principles

How can we create communities when we build places? The status quo isn’t working, at great social and financial cost. So to ensure that clear social principles underpin new development, ft’work has defined six social design principles and the actions required to achieve them. Forget costly consultants – with existing data and social capital the knowledge and means already exist to deliver successful communities.

identify and address social needs as a precondition for development and regeneration

protect social infrastructure where it exists and provide for it in all new development

make integration and inclusion the drivers of major planning decisions

give ‘social heritage’ the same value and protection as ‘built heritage’

adopt self-determination as a formal component of a democratic planning process

prevent the displacement of existing communities

would you like to download these principles as a pdf?