The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


London: Localising Legacies (2013)

In collaboration with Alberto Duman (Artist, School of Art and Design, Middlesex University, London)

As speculation still fumes on the future impact of the 2012 Olympic Games on East London development and the so-called “London Legacy”, various pockets of this fluctuating area and its immediate surroundings are under a microscope, already at work to claim and reclaim their place in the midst of capital-driven schemes.

In parallel, the UK’s Localism Act of 2011 has been charged with regulating regeneration across the country. Whether or not this policy will yield appropriate action or not, its existence raises many questions for the multiple opportunities in which East London can move forward. If not a policy such as this, what other measures can be devised locally to counter grand plans and market tendencies?

Since winning the right to stage the Olympics, a strict code of branding policing and marketing management of its associated sponsors has swept London and the world. In its utmost overzealous care of the London 2012 names, words and images, it focused our attention on the immaterial equities of place distinction and identification that are at the heart of the cognitive capital market of a world-class city as a product as well as a producer.

Could we perceive a global city branding strategy to serve as a model for local associations, perhaps one adopted on a more qualitative and grassroots basis? We have used this mechanism to expose further realities facing the re-development of East London. In fact, some areas contain informal living and plots of land given way to squatter settlements and unknown demographic data.

What will become of these patches and what can alternative thinking lend to the ways in which these pockets can resist irreversible change?

London summerLab has investigated these issues of mega-event impact alongside local reactions to government policies with an agenda to immerse participants into the realities of various communities in East London.

With planned visits to new landmarks of East London (the Olympic Park and the Emirates Cable Car), neighborhood journeys, and citizen input, the workshop will experiment with considerations of localized “branding”, critical social interventions and design strategies at various scales and output types.

During the workshop new methodologies for community resilience and ways of practicing design that is more opportunistic and uncertain rather than assumed and object-driven were explored.