28 September 2009

I Am Here (in a Haggerston council estate)

Back in May I went for a walk round the Regents Canal. The building below stood out: brightly marked as condemned a target for regeneration, yet nothing actually generating there - nothing, in fact, happening since April 2007. It is set for demolition in 2011, so what a strange four years for its remaining residents.

That's what Andrea Luka Zimmerman, Lasse Johansson and Tristan Fennell thought too. They live there, and have been documenting the Haggerston estate in a programme they are calling FLAT (see http://haggerston-kingsland.blogspot.com/. This is what they did:

Boarded-up and half-empty housing estates have become familiar landmarks in the contemporary urban landscape. Their fa├žades function as projection screens for collective fears and fantasies of troubled and dangerous environments that may lurk behind. This perception is all the more emphasized when rapid redevelopment encircles such estates with new luxury loft apartments and live–work spaces.

I Am Here intervenes in this dynamic of preconception and projection, replacing the 67 bright orange boards – which have covered the windows of empty flats in Samuel House since April 2007 – with large-scale photographs of residents on the estate.

"I am here", echoing the signs around the estate that inform you that "You are here". Perhaps critiquing this representation of 'here' as a geometric diagram, as if that's ever what being-in-place was really about. Claiming subjectivity, "I" - an assertion, an ownership, the right to the city - for all the people who aren't on the map bar a little red dot labelled "You".

24 September 2009

Urban-related lectures at LSE, Autumn 2009

Cities and the Environment
Urban Age with the Ove Arup Foundation Cities and the Environment series
Speaker: Peter Head, chair: Ricky Burdett

Date: Wednesday 14 October 2009
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building

By changing patterns of urban behaviour, cities can meet the challenges of climate change. How can advanced technologies help create sustainable cities and self-sufficient urban form?
Peter Head is director of ARUP. Ricky Burdett is Centennial Professor of Architecture and Urbanism and Director of Urban Age at the LSE.

Beijing Inside Out: Caochangdi
the James Stirling Memorial Lecture on the City organised by the LSE Cities Programme in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Architecture and the Center for Architecture, New York
Speakers: Robert Mangurian, Mary-Ann Ray

Date: Monday 19 October 2009
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building

The speakers examine the problems and possibilities of one of many dynamic new urban villages redefining the city of Beijing.
Robert Mangurian and Mary-Ann Ray are both Stirling Lecture Prize-winners and principals of StudioWorks Architects in Caochangdi.

The first Legacy Games: the physical and socio-economic transformation of East London
a Cities Programme and London Development Agency Legacy Now Team public debate
Speakers: Andrew Altman, Councillor Paul Brickell, Professor Ricky Burdett, Roger Taylor

Date: Tuesday 10 November 2009
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building

This event explores the planning and physical development of the Olympic Park after the 2012 games as well as the wider socio-economic benefits the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games are bringing.
Andrew Altman is chief executive of the Olympic Park Legacy Company. Paul Brickell is executive member for Olympics and public affairs at Newham council and chief executive of Leaside Regeneration. Ricky Burdett is director of Urban Age at LSE and principal design advisor to the London 2012 Olympics. Roger Taylor is director of the Host Boroughs Unit.

Cities, Design & Climate Change
Urban Age Understanding Cities series
Speakers: Professor Saskia Sassen, Professor Richard Sennett

Date: Tuesday 17 November 2009
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building

With cities contributing upwards of 75 per cent of global carbon emissions, urban design is increasingly important when planning for climate change. This discussion examines the creative urban design solutions coming out of the world's cities.
Saskia Sassen is Robert S Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. Richard Sennett is professor of sociology at LSE and NYU.