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Saffron Woodcraft



Year of start: 2011 

Subject: Material Culture

Research Topic

Re-imagining the London Terrace: sustainability, community and the urban family in East London


Supervisor: Dr Victor Buchli
Second supervisor: Dr Hannah Knox


My research will address these questions by looking at how the new communities in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park are imagined, planned, designed and inhabited. I am interested in how narratives about London’s future, economic growth, housing need and sustainable development are interpreted by the planners, architects, developers and public agencies working on these neighbourhoods to create new visions of urban social life. My work will focus on the design and planning process to explore how discourse and policy about sustainable development are translated into specific spatial plans and architectural forms.  I will investigate how these new communities relates to previous large-scale, planned communities in the UK and how historical relationships and processes exert influence over current decisions about spatial planning and housing.

What does social sustainability mean for the planning, development and formation of new urban communities? How do new urban neighbourhoods represent political narratives about what a 21st century city should be? And, how are competing ideas about urban development, sustainability, citizenship, family and home materialized in new communities?

Research interests

  • New urban communities
  • Utopian planning
  • The social life of cities
  • Social sustainability
  • Time and place in anthropology

Academic Background/Education

MSc Anthropology and Development, London School of Economics, 2004

Conference Papers

Architectural anthropology or anthropological architecture? Bringing "lived experience" into architectural practice. International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Tokyo. May 2014.

Innovating places: A new role for “place difference”? Social Frontiers: The next edge of social innovation research, NESTA/Glasgow Caledonian University, London. November 2013.

Social sustainability and new communities: Moving from concept to practice in the UK. Asia/Pacific International Conference on Environment-Behaviour Studies, Cairo. October 2012.

Social sustainability: a conceptual field in chaos or a radical planning practice? 1st International Conference on Urban Sustainability and Resilience, London. November 2012.

Urban translators? The role of anthropologists in sustainable urban planning. International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, August 2013.

Conference Organisation

SUSTAINABILITY AND THE HOME FRONT(IER): Between governmentality and embodied environmentalism? UGRG sponsored panel at RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2013. London. (Convenor on behalf of the Sustainability, Environment and Culture of Materials Research Group at UCL) 

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