This blogpost is the final reflection on the event Making London, held on the 18th July 2015 at the University of Greenwich (see #MAKINGLONDON – A First Person Account for full breakdown of the day).
The desire to run a design-led community engagement event like #MakingLondon was ignited by our Creative Professions & Digital Arts department settling into our new home in Stockwell Street, Greenwich. As we became habituated to our new setting and began enjoying the high tech equipment and creative environment, I couldn’t help but reflect on the vintage market place that, on weekends, used to take over this small piece of industrial land with its haphazard collection of furniture, books, clothes and traders. By reflecting on this I began to question what this shiny new RIBA nominated building does to the community here in Greenwich; does it offer new opportunities, collaborations and cultural activities, or is this just what we would like to see reflected in our possession of this space? Are we giving something to the community or displacing it through continued building and development? Through the series of Creative Conversations events we have begun to challenge ourselves, and allow ourselves to be challenged by others, to map out the impact and constellation of networks that have been shifted, altered and re-formed through our occupation of Stockwell Street.
From personal experience we also began to question ‘what does it mean to belong to such an amorphic city as London?’ and ‘whether this alters our sense of belonging and our ability to form connections with those around us?’
Fig 1: Our original Making London brainstorm considering everything from agile belonging to Pop-ups.
To consider this we have begun by looking outwards to see whether design could have an impact on the way that London is currently being shaped, and to question the relationship forming between building developments, financial markets, local communities and the creative industries. It became a trajectory that sought to give people a voice and space to reflect on and construct new perspectives on their own personal London-based issues. By bringing together a collection of diverse people from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines; from game developers to political activists, from ages 20 to 65, our aim was to use design methods and workshops that would allow them to creatively rethink their relationship to London. These activities, writing and thoughts were spatialised within an oversized map of London. Attendees were invited to inscribe their most powerful memories of living in London, what they value about London in its current incarnation and the growing issues of living in a city that has become filtered through it being a financial hub.
The map data could be divided into four main themes; these are London in Flux, London Debates, Londoners on the Go and London Pride (further analysis of these can be found in the Making London report).
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