The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Diasporic Geographies: voices from the south(s)

11 February 2022, 11:00 am–4:30 pm

Diasporic Geographies

Event Information

Open to



Laia Garcia


Walking tour

Register interest

While diaspora speaks to ideas of dispersion or forced relocation, the resultant geographic displacement of any group of people invokes spatial practices that create intimate relationships to place, enhance social connectedness and produce unique ideas of home. Diasporic living practices typically empower and support actions of solidarity and interconnectedness as well as the assertions of cultural self and collectivism that tend to travel with people through global manifestations of community. Very often, these practices create friction within existing socio-spatial systems and can result in strong collective actions around identity, politics, and agency in relation to belonging.

This session will host an immersive and interactive city-walk-talk format that will be led by local voices and actors in spatial making from London’s South(s). Through walking, talking, and engaging with the people and places of this dynamic urban center, we will be exposed to a unique juxtaposition of temporality and permanence, of preservation and innovation and understanding as well as response that are present in the South(s) of London’s diasporic geographies.
In this session we will join a small local selection of spatial actors from Elephant and Castle as well as Brixton.

If you are interested in joining the walking tours, please send an email to Laia Fernandez -  laia.fernandez@ucl.ac.uk

Elephant and Castle 

The walk will frame the recent transformation of Elephant & Castle through stories, personal experiences, memories, and myths. Countering contemporary narratives of development, students will be asked to reflect and record their impressions of the area, building off Latin Elephant’s My Elephant Story programme.

A historical overview will introduce the rise of the shopping centre, the growing significance of the area as a cultural hub for the local migrant population, development pressures leading to the eventual demolition of the Heygate Estate and, ultimately, the closure and demolition of the Shopping Centre early this year.

The tour will stop off at key locations in the area - including local businesses – to uncover the wide ranging impact of development and illustrate how Elephant & Castle serves as an important example with which to understand the future of the city.

“We are strong believers that Elephant and Castle's rich history deserves to be kept alive by reflecting years of encounters, laughter, hugs, endless conversations over coffee, eating, drinking and dancing... Bonding. Building a community.”

In collaboration with Latin Elephant Charity 
David Mcewen and Natalia Pérez will be our guides in Elephant and Castle


“3 postcodes, 4 door trucks, let’s lurk on Lambeth maps” 

This leg of the walk will encourage students to challenge their own approaches to conceptualising and understanding contested spaces in London. By attempting to explore and absorb Brixton through its layered, and often contradictory, temporalities, students will be pushed to complicate the mythologies and narratives that make the spectacle of Brixton. Instead, we will, together, adopt what Stuart Hall terms ‘conjunctural analysis’ in order to think through how Brixton is and was lived. 

The walk will jump between times as they are made apparent through various spaces in Brixton. We’ll look at the spatial legacies of the ’81 Uprisings to those of the 2011 Riots; walk through the indelible cultural transformation of the Caribbean’s Windrush generation to the architectures and infrastructures of a 19th century middle-class suburb; and understand the cataclysmic impact of Black music in Brixton, from early ‘shubeens’ to 70’s Reggae soundsystem culture, from the infamous/legendary Brixton Splash to the recent phenomenon of Reggaeton at Electric Brixton, and from the Grime artists who blossomed in the shadow of the genre’s East London prominence to the housing estates that gave rise to the birth of Drill. This walk will aim to look at ‘then through now’, with an explicit focus on articulating the conflict of experiences that make and unmake ‘place’. The walk will finally conclude with a conversation with Serpentine Pavilion’s Sumayya Vally.

listen – ‘Lambeth Maps’ by 67 (2017) 

In collaboration with Resolve Collective
Akil Scafe-Smith will be our guide in Brixton

Leads: Laia García & Jhono Bennett

This session will have a face-to-face format and will take place on Friday February 11 2022 from 11.00am to 4.30pm (UK Time). It is proposed as a city-walk in which BUDD alumni and partners will take the 21-22 cohort of BUDD students to learn about their work with specific communities across Elephant and Castle and Brixton. There will be a +15 places available for external participants. 

About the Walking Tour’s Partners 

Latin Elephant is a charity that promotes alternative and innovative ways of engaging and incorporating migrants and ethnic groups in processes of urban change in London. Latin Elephant facilitates channels of communication between retailers, councils, local organisations, developers and other stakeholders in urban developments and regeneration initiatives. Latin Elephant organises activities with the aim of bringing different communities together and increasing awareness and use of public spaces where Latin Americans are often underrepresented.

RESOLVE is an interdisciplinary design collective that combines architecture, engineering, technology and art to address social challenges. Resolve has delivered numerous projects, workshops, publications, and talks in the UK and across Europe, all of which look toward realising just and equitable visions of change in our built environment. Much of their work aims to provide platforms for the production of new knowledge and ideas, whilst collaborating and organising to help build resilience in our communities. An integral part of this way of working means designing with and for young people and under-represented groups in society. 

Credits: (brixton bridge) Resolve Collective & Farouk Agoro, Collage: (David Mcewen)

About the Urban Design Otherwise series

Urban Design Otherwise offers a space to think together how to enact and foster emancipatory  spatial practices. As designers and urban professionals we are faced with the mission of ‘creating and imagining new worlds’. This mission has to confront the historical juncture of COVID19, the climate crises, the upsurge of national regimes are adding pressure to long standing problems such as poverty, structural inequalities and violent colonial legacies. However, urban design has been complicit in the spatial reproduction of privilege.  Recalibrating urban design thinking and practice requires on one side, a critical examination of theories, methodologies, and pedagogies. On the other hand, it requires talking, debating, acknowledging our role in today’s outcomes and expanding and reimagining our discipline “beyond the dominant Western solutionist and anthropocentric model of thought” (Mareis, C. & Paim, P., 2021:12).  
Following the 2020 BUDD initiative “Urban Design Conversations” that focus on collective reflections with  alumni  about the agency of urban design to cope with the changing pace and emerging challenges during the initial strike of the pandemic. 

Find out more about the series here.