UCL Urban Laboratory


Urban Walks Series

25 February 2022

Urban Walks is a London based series designed to engage with those outside academia to look at a wide variety of issues facing urban life. Each walk will be free and open to the public.

River Lea

Urban Lab Walks 2022

From Saturday 26th February, the UCL Urban Laboratory will host the first of a series of urban walks centred around our annual theme of ‘Emergency’. With each walk led by a different urbanist, anthropologist, activist or author, we will start near UCL’s Bloomsbury campus and each week head further east, eventually taking in the ongoing construction of UCL East in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and entering London’s edgelands.

 As ever, the Urban Laboratory is committed to engaging with those outside of academia to look at a wide variety of issues facing urban life. Walk leaders will lead discussions on everything, from the housing crisis and river pollution, to night-time safety and gentrification, and each walk will be free and open to the public.

The programme will cover parts of the capital packed with history, culture and controversy, and often overlooked spaces of wilderness such as the Channelsea River and the surprisingly beautiful surroundings of Beckton Sewage Works. If you are still recovering from the effects of lockdown and fancy exploring the city, we’d love for you to join us.

Numbers are limited and free tickets will be made available on Eventbrite seven days prior to each walk. Please do only book a ticket if you are committed to joining. We plan to go ahead regardless of all but the most severe weather conditions.

Saturday 26th Feb 2022 | 1100-1300 | Tom Bolton | Start: Kings X Station | End: Kings X Station

Despite their proximity to busy central London and to UCL, the neighbourhoods behind Euston, King’s Cross and St. Pancras stations are cut off by railway lines, canals and busy roads. We will visit Somers Town, the village of radicals; Elm Village, once condemned as London’s worst slum; the Maiden Lane Estate, a tangle of decks, alleys and hidden corners; and Belle Isle, a strange part of London’s mythology: a landscape of change, social contrast and urban complexity. 

Sunday 6th Mar 2022 | 1100-1300 | Ashley Hickson-Lovence | Start: Hoxton Station | End: Dalston Junction Station

"True say though, I have to say, it’s always changing round here. Shops that used to sell carpet cleaner and cat toys, now sell those tiny espresso coffees that are too strong and make your breath kick..." An exploratory journey from Hoxton to Dalston, which will draw on the lived experiences of author of The 392, Ashley Hickson-Lovence. The walk will follow the first part of the fictional 392 bus route, exploring the local landmarks and discussing the impact of gentrification of the area.

Friday 11th Mar 2022 | Evening | Satu Streatfield | Location unconfirmed

Satu Streatfield is Associate Director (Night-time and Lighting) at Publica. In 2021, she led the GLA-commissioned 'Night Time Strategy Guidance' work, contributed to the Night Time Commission’s ‘Think Night’ report, and regularly conducts night walks as a way of engaging stakeholders. This walk, held in the evening, will focus on many of the unlit routes in central London – in search of urban darkness. Torches recommended.

Sunday 20th Mar 2022 | 1100-1300 | Joseph Cook | Start: Hackney Wick Station | End: East Ham Station

Joseph Cook is an anthropologist and boater. This walk will include sections of the River Lea, the Olympic site, and the site of UCL East, and will cover topics such as the housing crisis and London’s live aboard boating communities; the industrial history of the River Lea, and the continuing development of Stratford. 

Saturday 2nd Apr 2022 | 1100-1330 | Tom Chivers | Start: West Ham Station | End: To be confirmed

Poet, author of the recent book ‘London Clay’, and keen mudlarker, Tom Chivers, will lead this walk of Bow Creek and the new developments happening at the Thames foreshore in east London. 

Sunday 10th Apr 2022 | 1100-1300 | Aude Vuilli | Start: Plaistow Station | End: QEOP Stadium

Aude is a PhD Student at The Bartlett CASA. She is researching the integration of electronic sensors in green infrastructure to monitor ecological biodiversity. The walk will start at Plaistow Station and head south towards Lister Gardens and Plaistow Park, before joining the Green Way. The walk will then continue in the direction of the QEOP, stopping around Abbey Mills pumping station, Three Mills park and the  Pudding Mill allotments. It will explore the architecture and design of green and blue infrastructure, discuss possible actions to increase biodiversity, and shed light on some of the tensions between urban development and natural resources. If you have some binoculars, you might want to bring them with you!

Saturday 24th Apr 2022 |1100-1300 | Paul Powseland | Start: Barking Abbey | End: Creekmouth Barking

This walk will be led by barrister, activist, and Chairman of the River Roding Trust, Paul Powseland. The River Roding is London's third largest river and used to be home to the UK's largest fishing fleet. There is a wealth of memory and history along its banks, some of which are undergoing hugely intensive development, but some of which are silently retreating back into the Thames estuary mud. Join us as we explore these layers of past and present along the Roding.