For a week, during the summer of 2018, sixteen young Londoners worked with a small team of landscape architects, urban designers and architects at the University of Greenwich to explore how the dreams and desires of many different people can be represented in the future design of London.
Un/der/represented was the first of a series of workshops focused on the speculative design of landscapes, cities and territories, involving Year 12 students from across London. Organised by Ed Wall, who leads landscape architecture and urbanism at the University of Greenwich, the aims of the first workshop were:
- to focus on the design of cities by young people who live in them [with a focus on London];
- to design urban spaces by, with and for individuals and groups who are un/less-represented in current city-making processes [such as people who are younger, homeless, disabled, low income, migrants and minorities];
- and to explore un/less-professional approaches to design.
The workshop, that was free to attend, was structured around an urban design project to explore three terms: ‘see’, ‘be seen’ and ‘hide’. The students studied an area of Deptford, in South East London, through taking photographs and making recordings. They explored spaces around Deptford that allow people to be ‘seen’, locations from which people can ‘see’ and sites in which individuals could ‘hide’.
The students then developed sketch design proposals for changes to Deptford that would enable observing, showing off and concealing different activities. These drawn speculations were accompanied by manifestos that outlined the ambitions of their proposals. Through presenting their proposals to each other during the workshop the students shared experiences and developed their ideas.
The main activity of the workshop involved the construction of a five metre long collective model. Students created maquettes of their designs and then developed the sketch models in the context of existing buildings, streets, parks and infrastructures. As they worked their proposals, the students revealed their individual and shared ambitions for Deptford.
The workshop was led and informed by experienced landscape architects, urban designers and architects. It included support and speakers from the Greater London Authority (Robert Baffour-Awuah), The Royal Parks (Jane Pelly, Graham Dear), BNP Paribas (Denizer Ibrahim), Landscape Institute (Tahlia McKinnon), Gensler (Alex Malaescu), East Anglia Records (Harry Bix) and Project Studio (Ed Wall).
How can we ensure that the aspirations of different individuals, communities and organisations can be fairly represented in the processes of transforming our landscapes and cities? The difficulty of designing with other people, recognising conflicts and reconciling contrasting ambitions should not be underestimated. Simply, however, the ambition of the workshop was to open up creative conversations where we learn from each other and where Londoners are empowered to inform the future of their city.
Register for the 2019 summer workshop here.
See the 2018 publication here.