From Doll's House to My House: Exploring Health and Wellbeing in Small Spaces

Partner Programme

20 Sept 2023

Architecture / Landscape, Interiors & Furniture

Roca London Gallery

Station Court

Townmead Road




Featuring William Bracewell, Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet, whose new film explores movement and wellbeing in small spaces; Tokyo architect Toshiki Hirano and his Rika-chan doll’s house; Proctor & Shaw; and Richard Beckett from the Bartlett who is doing a live probiotic workspace experiment.

This first interdisciplinary talk event for the exhibition Small Spaces in the City: Rethinking inside the Box at Roca London Gallery, curated by Clare Farrow Studio, will focus on the vitally important theme of health and wellbeing in small urban living-work spaces, from a designer and user point of view. William Bracewell, Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet, whose specially commissioned dance film by Candida Richardson focuses on the movement, intimacy, limitations and states of being in a small space, will be in conversation, talking about the thinking behind the film and the process of making it. As the owner of a Barbican Estate studio since 2020, which was transformed by Intervention Architecture in a collaborative way, just before the pandemic, Bracewell will also talk about the small home as a mobile, flexible, experimental living environment, in contact with nature and the city. Other participants in this inspiring event will be Tokyo adviser and architectural designer Toshiki Hirano from the Kuma Lab at The University of Tokyo, who has taken the Rika-chan dolls house as a playful but also very serious model for future small space design, investigating its light, compact and foldable thinking with a view to future micro transforming designs; architect Mike Shaw of Proctor & Shaw, whose award-winning Shoji Apartment plays with the idea of translucency, vertical stacking and an opening and closing cocoon that enhances the psychological and physical experience of a tiny home; and Richard Beckett, Associate Professor at The Bartlett School of Architecture, who has collaborated with an immunologist from UCL to conduct a live experiment entitled ‘Imagining a probiotic microbial workspace’, which visitors will also be able to interact with and experience for periods of time. Health in tiny spaces is not just about the dimensions of rooms and flexibility of furniture, or about bringing green plants in for pleasure and detoxing the air. It is about recognising that over-sanitised spaces disrupt the balance of microbes in our living and work environments, especially since the pandemic, resulting in autoimmune diseases that are on the rise. Beckett’s groundbreaking exhibition and experiment that blends architecture with science and medicine, brings the forest floor and 'forest bathing' concept out of nature and into the smallest of spaces. The results of his experiment will be revealed at the close of the exhibition in January 2024.