Streetspace Workshop with the CASS

 

What are the different ways to read the street? How can we reveal the multiple dynamics, relationships and behaviours that form the contemporary London highstreet? The Streetspace workshop at the CASS (2nd and 3rd November) sought to examine and experiment with ways of analysing the street and sharing the results. The exercise, which took place in Dalston, was centred around three lenses: history, aspirations and perceptions.

As part of the perceptions group, we sought to explore the themes of culture and identity. After a walk of the area and through conversation, we chose to focus on Ridley Road market, a busy, dense ethnic market opposite the Dalston Station. Through conversations, interviews, photography and recordings, we attempted to map out the rich and complex composition of the market, of the street, and establish certain everyday practices that distinguished this space from a typical street. This unique urban situation exists against the backdrop of extensive future development and a highstreet in transformation.

Many of the conversations we had with traders revolved around everyday customs, of relationships with other traders and stories or histories related to the market. It was interesting to understand this perspective as it perceives and shapes the space in a different way to that of an outsider. This is reflected in the sounds, colours, products and languages present in the market. These different routines and ways of acting are reflected on a spatial level: stalls can encroach the shared road space, but continue into stores that have developed within the rear of residential buildings. One commercial unit stands where the kitchen, living room and bedroom of a house used to be.

These transitions are perhaps best expressed through the flooring. This almost becomes an archaeological study where the meeting point of tiles and carpet suggests these were once two separate rooms. Similarly, the smaller market stalls occupy old warehouse spaces, tight and compact but serving the smaller commercial function of these units (small record store, seamstress, incense shop…).

The sensation that life operates at a different scale here is immediately apparent: space is tight, units are compact, products will line any available space. Within a wider urban environment that prioritises larger, monumental gestures, particularly on a vertical level, this street feels and acts differently. Beyond materiality, the diversity of functions, people, colours, sounds further reinforces the feeling that what occurs here occurs specifically because it can, or rather because no-one has imposed a set of rules to prohibit it yet. Because it has not followed the same transition as the rest of the street, because it is yet to be invaded or corrupted by the apparent demands or expectations that have shaped the rest of the street in a particular manner.

A Model of the future, Pt. 1

Within the realm of the computer model, there is no space for fiction, for potentialities beyond those calculable through its algorithms.

Collage02_occulus_model_v6

What space could and should resistant mythologies occupy then? It has to be beyond the land of the computer.  The existing, temporary structure of a market stall offers a direct antithesis to what a CGI version of the future professes to divine.

Mapping Latin American Residents

The map below shows the addresses featuring the highest concentration of Latin American residents around the area of Elephant & Castle:

2017_SpanishSpeaking_s

This area functions as a node, a crucial centre for the members of the Latin American community identified, the heart of transportation, business and social networks.

Elephant & Castle Dérived

A video pieced together from bits and pieces of footage I was able to record on one visit to the area. The process of assembling the video, both in the selection of the clips and the text, resembled re-arranging pieces of a jigsaw to create a completely new puzzle.

The video is a provocation, an experimental journey through Elephant & Castle. How can events/developments in the area capture the transformation of the social, the ordinary, the everyday?

Urbanism of Resistance Pt. IV

This past Sunday 24th September, local community groups and independent traders held the third ‘Salsa & Samba Shutdown’ of Seven Sisters Indoor Market in Tottenham. This followed previous events where resistance to regeneration plans was evoked through dance, music, poetry, games and food. The events have been very effective ways for traders and activists to inform and discuss planning proposals for the area, as well as offering a platform to share other issues affecting minority ethnic communities in London, for instance housing and employment rights. As with the other events, the ‘shutdown’ has been characterised by an occupation of empty public space outside the market, attracting passersby and members of the public leaving the tube station.

IMG_7301IMG_7318IMG_7391IMG_7404IMG_7412IMG_7328IMG_7336IMG_7346IMG_7359IMG_7365IMG_7369IMG_7381IMG_7402

The ‘shutdowns’ are deliberate acts of resistance, of visibility, against a system or order that seeks to push this community away, to limit possible behaviours and exercise control over a space.