UCL Urban Laboratory


Urban Lab awarded Leverhulme funding for artist-in-residence to work on Balfron Tower project

16 July 2013

UCL Urban Laboratory is delighted to announce that UCL has received an award from the Leverhulme Trust to fund photographer Rab Harling as an artist-in-residence to work with Dr Ben Campkin and other UCL staff and students during the academic year 2013-14


The residency - titled Inversion/Reflection: Turning Balfron Tower Inside Out - will result in large format photographs and photographic sculptures examining the architecture and communities of Balfron Tower, an iconic modernist tower block in East London. Designed by renowned architect Ernö Goldfinger, Balfron Tower is a 27-storey tower block, situated in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Conceived and built to alleviate slum-dwelling, this 'Brutalist' concrete structure was recently saved from demolition by its Grade-II listed status, and is currently the focus of 'regeneration'. This will be accompanied by a fundamental change to the building's original function of social housing provision. To fund its restoration, Balfron's housing association owner will sell off the refurbished flats, completing its transformation to private ownership. As the tower enters the final phase of its life prior to refurbishment, developing his photographic works in collaboration with housing experts at UCL, Rab will record this pivotal moment. He will represent the building's final occupation by long-term social housing tenants, its use by newer short-term occupants, the gradual process of 'decanting' and dispersal, and the building's reoccupation as private housing.

Rab Harling specialises in experimental large-format photography and photographic installations. He investigates how people construct a sense of place in urban environments. Film industry trained, with extensive expertise in large-format and low-level light techniques, Rab turned to fine-art photography in 2006. Following an MA (2010), he has exhibited in the UK and overseas, including 'Reports from an Ordinary Satellite', curated by Val Williams (Rhubarb International Photography Festival/Galerie Der Fachhochschule, Germany 2010), and large-scale installations (Tower Hamlets Spring Open, Mile End Art Pavilion 2011/12). He has recently presented a solo exhibition of his ongoing project 'A Delicate Sense of Terror' at Lubomirov-Easton in London.

Image: Rab Harling

Leverhulme Trust