The Isle of Dogs, East London, is the densest and fastest growing area in Western Europe. With its population set to double in the next fifteen years, what people see as traditional sense of community on the two and a half square mile Island is jeopardised by the scale of growth and the large transitory population in the area.
Through this collaborative research project we have interrogated the immaterial concept of community and its relationship with the built environment using a range of methods in conversation with: community centres; developers; grass roots initiatives; politicians and residents.Looking specifically at community centres and public spaces, we found a number to be under-utilised, some locals even unaware of their existence.
Designing our own set of methods and processes that we established over the course of our project, we have collated a body of research in attempting to reveal opportunities to design in each area.
With such drastic development, spaces of this nature are of an all time importance in bringing about any sense of community. Though the space alone is redundant without public participation. We look at how our chosen research methods can be utilised to bring about greater awareness, as to what exists and instigate local populations to come together and collectively look for alternative communal spaces.
Project worked with:
We began our project, looking at the Canary Wharf estate, as we found it to be an extreme of the urban environment, with an insular social structure and modular purpose. We then looked to find a rural extreme from which we could draw direct comparisons to Canary Wharf; the Isle of Grain would become this site.
Through our initial juxtaposition of these two extremes of the urban and rural environment, we came to look specifically at The Isle of Dogs questioning the relationship between community and development.
Reflecting on this we look as to how our chosen methods could become a transferable research system that can give residents greater awareness to what exists in the local vicinity, and how they could begin to influence their immediate locality. Our process culminated in the proposal of a ‘Community Information & Planning Hub.’ A moveable space such as a re-appropriated fish and chip van; Moving between development sites, giving locals in the area, information regarding community spaces and activities.