School SOS is a Nomadic Not-For-Profit Critical Spatial Design School that seeks to challenge modes of delivering Higher Education in the UK.

Through partnerships with museums, galleries, libraries and other public institutions, SOS is able to offer free, equitable forms of design practice development. Our previous and continuing partnerships include the Design Museum, the South London Gallery, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the V&A, Bold Tendencies, and many more.

We aim to accelerate the inclusion of marginalised groups in critical spatial practices. Our courses provide participants with the tools to sustainably develop and action, active social and political design practices.

Image courtesy of the Koppel Project.
Copyright the Koppel Project 2020.‍
School SOS is built upon 3 foundational tenets. Our approach is informed by the rising fees in Higher Education and the impact this is having on the way students experience developmental years and the need to have spaces for critical practice.

In order to break the chain of student debt to uncritical education; critical, politically active education must be free and accessible.
Art & Design should confront the socio-economic systems it operates within

What is Critical Spatial Practice?
Critical spatial practice is an underrepresented form of counter – affirmative design, giving space for designers to critique contemporary society through the power of the medium. Education in art and design has been limited to problem solving for the needs of capital, but as designers, we can and should apply our trade to more active, social and political ends.

Democratising education
Traditionally, this methodology has been reserved to a select few elite establishments of Higher Education in the UK. SOS aims to demolish this tenet, democratising an active and political way of working and making critical design accessible.

Market diven education

Universities today gravitate toward market-driven education, not only through the education-as-product model, but in their delivery of market-ready students. Market-driven courses lean toward an increasingly uncritical, apolitical and affirmative approach to Art and Design. SOS believes that in order to re-politicise design education it must be freed from commercial pressures.

Higher Education must be free and accessibe

Student fees
Universities today levy vast fees from students and increasingly orientate education toward the market. This model is a vicious cycle ever expanding, reinforcing industry ties and producing market ready uncritical graduates. 

Student debt
Architecture students for example exit university with a minimum debt of £50,000, forcing them into industry with no scope to explore the edges of the discipline. As such, Universities must train students to access the industry, in order for them to begin to repay their student debts. This consumeried model of education turns away many from lower socio-economic households and other marginalised groups from a critical form of education.

Critical education must be free
To be truly accessible, education has to be free. Diversity and inclusion in critical, politically active forms of design can only be achieved by dismantling the financial burden. Free education and we free the constraints of design and the industry.

We need a fair and sustainable alternative to Higher Education

New modes of education
An inclusive university model cannot sustain this increase in cost whilst devaluing the importance of critical and non-linear learning in the Arts. If the current UK HE cannot offer an unburdened space for free-thinking, then a new model must be found.

The super-versity
Where once Arts Schools formed a network of independent expression hard fought by students leaning on the traditions of university free-thought, today we are left with overburdened and bureaucratic monolith super-versities, unable to nurture critical thought and redefine design in an era where it is quickly losing relevance and real world impact. 

School SOS
Starting in 2019, our flagship course has expanded each year, providing a small number of students with free education, while developing a new model for the delivery of Higher Education in the UK. We hope to be providing free year long critical and active design courses by 2025.

Kishan San (Co-Founder and Director)

Copyright Kishan San 2018

Kishan completed a BA in Architecture at the University of Westminster in 2015 and a Diploma in Architecture at the Architectural Association in 2019. Kishan works as an Advanced Researcher at the Turner Prize nominated human rights research agency Forensic Architecture (FA), based at Goldsmiths University, London. 

With FA his work has been tabled for discussion at the UN’s OECD Seminar on the Beirut port explosion, European Parliament (the LIBE Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs) and has been published in numerous media outlets including; The Guardian, The Financial Times, Der Spiegel, Mediapart, Efsyn, and Madr Masr.

Pierre Shaw
(Co-Founder and Director)

Image courtesy of Arch+ (2022)

Pierre obtained his BA in Architecture at the University of Sheffield before completing an MA in Architecture at the Royal College of Art in 2018. He is an Associate Lecturer for MA Design for Social Innovation at UAL, London and a PhD graduate researcher in critical spatial practices and pedagogy at the UCA, Canterbury.

Pierre has published for e-flux Architecture and held research fellowships with the British Council and CAMPO in Rome. He is a visiting critic at the AA, RCA, University of Toronto, Oxford Brookes, amongst others. Alongside research in architecture, he is a practising architect working across public typologies and was awarded the RIBA London Award with his previous team at Stirling Prize winners, Haworth Tompkins.
School SOS Advisory Board
Rachael Harlow (SLG Projects Curator)
Rachael Harlow is Projects Curator at the South London Gallery (SLG). She graduated from Goldsmiths University in Fine Art and History of Art and now leads one of London’s best established programme for young emerging artists at SLG.

Coordinating the gallery’s artist in residence and public commissioning, currently Rachael is a Interim Co-Acting Head of Programme at SLG. For SOS Rachael advises and oversees on all matters.
Members TBA very soon ...
Bamidele Awoyemi
Agata Nguyen Chuong
Ben Brakspear
Greg Moss-Coomes
Ben Rea
Angus Smith
Studio Tutor
Workshop Coordinator
Guest Tutor
Exhibition Curator
Participants and Guests
Nour Al Ahmad
Stanley Chick
Abiba Coulibaly
Jackson Deans
Ella Fitzgerald
Rachel Jung
Aarushi Matiyani
John Murphy
Aggie Parker
Nicola Tsioupra
Oliver Warren
James Bridle
Lydia Caradonna
Jack Self
John Walter
ASSEMBLE (Jane Hall)
Cooking Sections
Forensic Architecture
Anonymous 1
Anonymous 2
Peter Brooks
Andrew Copolov
Bex Liu
Rosemary Moss
Okocha Obasi
Oniqur Rahman
Louis Scantlebury
Sharvaree Shirode
Roxy Zeiher
Dr Sophie Lewis
Prof Nick Srnicek
GREENPEACE UK (Rosie Strickland)
The Rodina
Callum Abbott
Elsa Casanova
Thea Christy-Parker
Ruby Doherty
Kostek Konopinski
Karolina Krupickova
Lily Mc Craith
Christian Opdal
Eleni Papazoglou
Jay Parekh
Ananya Patel
Shakera Rahman
Lauryn Siegel
Juli Sikorska
Oliver Simpson
Tareq Tamimi
Felix Taylor
Simo Tse
Henry Valori
Lizzie Walkden
Huidi Xiang
Ed Fornieles
Dr Daisy Ginsberg
Jack Self
John Walter
ASSEMBLE (Jane Hall)
Forensic Architecture
The Rodina