Evidencing value in spatial microcosms
An inside-out methodology to understanding political architecture
re(s)public is an interdisciplinary research collective. As a group we rethink the narratives of space and its related disciplines through critical design, fine arts and architecture. We aim at bridging disciplines and looking beyond the scission of academia, business and art. We believe that in the intersection of these worlds lays the inspiration and the creation of value. We believe in conversation, in learning through making, and we believe in the future. Our work offers space for reflection on art and creative practice through research.
Recent years have seen the rapid growth of cities. With it the distribution of resources, capital, and power becoming part of the ever-changing landscapes, often depicting inequalities that range from the sociodemographic conditions to development agendas. It quickly becomes evident how the access to decision making processes between marginalised communities and developers regarding construction agendas and investment is highly polarised. Because of major economic drivers and the access that different groups have to reshaping the city, those who have agency to decide how a place will change or be reshaped are not necessarily the same people who recognise value in them; or at least not the same value.
Because of major economic drivers and the access that different groups have to reshaping the city, the notions of what is of value and what counts as heritage become uneven. Especially when those who have agency to decide how a place will change or be reshaped are not necessarily the same people who recognise value in them; or at least not the same value: relying on accumulation by dispossession.
When public space is a space for sustained representations of the diverse layers that we encounter in the urban landscape: we can foresee its various roles underpinning the intersection between socio-political, economic and spatial configurations in perpetual negotiation. Alternative structures of governance emerge from such uneven disputes, when decisions don’t necessarily meet communal needs.
Taking a closer look into the market, underlined my interest in researching the tension between the endurance of physical space, and the ways in which social capital unravels, shifting from micro to macro structures of power and layers of infrastructure. Through the lens of social theory and empirical research, my project studies (street)markets of London at risk of disappearance, relocation or undergoing processes of redevelopment. It takes a closer look into north-London’s Seven Sisters Market, with the aim of identifying its community tactics of resistance and guidelines to safeguarding social value in the everyday, within the current political and urban development drivers taking place in the area.
As the SSIM has become a battleground for competing visions of city-making, what other forms of architecture are the social relationship and governance structures shaping? As small-scale spaces like the market become social, spatial and economic alternatives in a city like London, how are they confronting opposite realities from the urban fabric in which they are embedded? And, how can community architecture be a tool for resilience against erasure, and a tool for activism against urban injustice?
In a triangulation between resistance, value, and the physicality of the market, my research focuses on how its everyday activity translates into the form of bridges, bonds, games, frictions, and relationships of care, as a response to the 16-year-long struggle that the market has put up to fight back the CPO and stop Grainger’s project – that would demolish the corner site. My project looks to understand what the social value of the market is, where it can it be found, and how it is related to the process of evolving resistance into an alternative for the struggle.
To find out more about the interdisciplinary and cross-cultural work that we do at re(s)public collective visit our website under respubliccollective.com. See our projects or get to know our members. We also send out a newsletter on a regural base. You can sign up for it here.