The Bartlett


Walking within the layers of Burgess Park: Interrogating Traces and Fragments

27 April 2017, 2:00 pm–4:00 pm

Bartlett Walks

Event Information

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The Bartlett


Meet at the West Entrance, off Camberwell Road SE5 0EG

Burgess Park is located in a formerly industrial area developed around the west end of the now filled-in Grand Surrey Canal. The construction of these 56 hectares of open green space started in the late 1950s and, although fairly constituted as a park today, is still unfinished.

Certain elements and situations within the park evoke something missing, appearing as the experience of absence. Street sections leading nowhere, incomplete walls enclosing nothing, among other leftovers, are not functionally nor symbolically incorporated into the present life of the park, hence becoming strange to it. In turn, a disappeared urban setting can be recalled and reimagined through these traces and fragments. As loose ends scattered across the park, they act as open clues about the site’s history, stimulating the viewer’s retrospective imagination. Nevertheless, as part of an on-going revamp of Burgess Park attempting to its completion, many of its leftover traces are being erased while few remainders of its industrial past are preserved and turned into heritage objects.

This walk aims to explore and discuss these strange, vanishing traces, which infuse a sense of depth and openness in the way the different times of the site can be experienced. This condition contrasts with the narrow sense of coherence of the current renovation scheme that progressively flattens this rich palimpsest, posing the question of how to preserve and further enhance such mode of urban memory. The still on-going renovation of Burgess Park precedes a major regeneration project that will see the neighbouring Aylesbury Estate giving way to a new development. Therefore, its gradual transformation into a more structured park –implying the elimination of its vague qualities– is not an isolated process. Aspects of urban memory as seen in Burgess Park are thus entangled with broader issues of urban change, heritage, the nature of public space, as well as the social and cultural diversity of the area.

Beyond addressing the contingencies of urban regeneration, however, the walk focuses on the materiality of the site, which reveals hidden and non-evident aspects of a past that can be discovered and recreated through imagination.

This walk will be led by Felipe Lanuza Rilling, from the Bartlett School of Architecture.

To sign up for this event, please register via Eventbrite. Places are limited.