My ‘Pitch’…

Please find below my outline ‘pitch’ for the review this week. Ill then pull in drawings in support of this, which will be what I aim to produce this week.

Is it concise enough? Does it sound thought through? Any comment extremely welcome. Attached is a sketch of what I’ll pin up….


I am proposing a Yard, as a new programmatic idea, in support of co-operative micro-enterprise in Hackney Wick.

That is to say, what I am interested in is how architecture – and architects – can afford the coming-together of diverse, multiple – often very specific enterprise (individual, corporate and authority) – to become resilient to imposed change. My hypothesis is that ‘resilient’ organisations / assemblages are those that are receptive to change; ones that are able to control their own transformation.

Therefore my over-riding theme for this project is ‘transformation’ – and my intent is to investigate how spatial production of the built environment can be reclaimed for users of that built environment.

Context / The Olympics, Regeneration & Legacy

Hackney Wick is in East London, and as I’m sure you are aware, East London is also the site of the Olympic Park, currently under construction for 2012.

There has been a lot of talk about legacy here – it’s part of why London won the bid – and legacy in this instance seems to focus on the idea of ‘regeneration’.

The scale is huge. The security almost total. There is this chunk of London fenced off to be ‘regenerated’. The emerging position of our studio concerns itself with a critique of this ‘top-down’ / ‘event horizon’ model of spatial production – and looks closely at who controls the production of space in such development.

My position is that this model of regeneration doesn’t actually leave much of a legacy for the individuals, communities and organisations existing in Hackney Wick.

I would also take the position that the model of regeneration being applied in the Olympic development is one of speculation and ‘growth’. I would like to begin by re-interpreting ‘growth’ as transformation.

As individuals, when we say we want to ‘grow’, what we actually mean is that we want to transform; to become more resilient to, and more engaged with, our world. I would argue that this also applies to organisations – ‘resilient’ businesses thrive on contacts, on symbiosis with other organisations, and on organisational agility that affords reaction to a fluctuating economy.

The thrust of my argument is that microenterprise makes a worthy contribution to the cultural, economic and social vitality of the city and should be supported in sustaining itself here in East London. Hackney Wick – at this current time – offers an opportunity to do so.

Aspirational Programme

The Yard – as both an architecture that is flexible and receptive to change; and a collective of actors and agents existing symbiotically.

The School – as a mechanism for unifying and sustaining diverse microenterprise within the Yard.

The Embassy – as a means to engage beyond the co-operative whilst ensuring the integrity of its intent.

The Spa – as an aspiration of connection between self and place

The Mint – as an ideology of locally focussed economics and alternate / parallel ways of measuring value.

Next Steps

To participate in the on-going transformation of the Yard typology – testing combinations of actors and agents to explore the resilience of spatial and organisational arrangements, with particular regard to locally-controlled regeneration and economy.

(For discussion)

Further Context – Art-led Regeneration / Property Speculation & Co-Operatives

I’m sure I don’t need to recite the commonly observed model of art-led regeneration to you – and indeed the East London art scene is much publicised – but a potted summary might be….

Art and micro-enterprise, typically having low profit margins, seek places where fixed costs – such as rent – are low. Naturally they tend towards places like Hackney Wick that seem forgotten by society and are undesired. Perhaps perversely the presence of such operators is good for a neighbourhood – their presence contributes to urban vitality and makes a place a popular place to live;  therefore attracting speculative property investment, which in turn drives rents up and disrupts the very condition that brought them there in the first place. Thus the East London art scene has been steadily retreating east, chased by the gentrification which seems to inevitably and relentlessly follow. Having reached Hackney Wick, this fraternity of micro-enterprise has come up against the brick wall of the Olympic regeneration – gentrification seems to have gotten one step ahead.

Now – if we accept that microenterprise makes a worthy contribution to the economic, cultural and social vitality of the city and that they are worth sustaining, then maybe we have to speculate as to how they might have to re-organise themselves in order to become resilient to gentrification.

I am proposing that co-operative, community-owned enterprise is the vehicle for this as it is able to resist the property speculation that drives gentrification.



One Response to “My ‘Pitch’…”
  1. Hi Sam

    Looks like a good start!

    NB. it’s always good to not to forget the ‘basics’ that allow people to get orientated – ie. some form of site map, photographic context. I know you labeled it in your ‘backup’ stuff, but i’d get it on the wall, even if you are mainly talking about ‘themes’. I’d put up your traced bing map with its info – doesn’t matter its a bit scruffy, as you’ve picked out what’s important and relevant to you on it, whilst you can gauge proximity and impact of the Olympics better – lots of places in East London talk about being neighbours, but HW is literally the girl next door so to speak.

    I think it might be worth expanding upon what your micro-economies might be – even if you just suggest it. You already have some strong ideas about this so i’d put them out there: the ‘material recycling / reuse / trade’ (which you might have moved on from) seems very specific and relevant in the face of the Olympics and huge amount of ‘temporary’ structures being built and you can back it up with the encounters you’ve had.

    We can chat about it if you’re in the studio tomorrow? I’d certainly like some input on my thinking!

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