Cultural Infrastructure 2015-16: Production
Each year DSDHA’s Unit tackles an aspect of the city that challenges our preconceptions and, with each investigation, we produce beautiful architecture alongside relevant provocations that attract attention from a world beyond of the Cass. This year the course seeks to define London's cultural infrastructure – the spaces and networks that allow the arts to be produced and disseminated within our urban reality.
As London veers towards exponential population growth, the city’s infrastructure is attempting to cope, with at the time of the orchestrated decline of state-sponsored intervention and the encouraged growth of private speculation. While housing is left to the free market, what happens to the provision and quality of our city’s cultural spaces and institutions?
Historically, creative communities have acted as the catalyst of London’s regeneration, triggering cycles of development often right on the footprint of urban decline. Today the incessant rise in property value is pricing young creatives out of the city, and residential space expands at the expense of London's creative ground. Yet the city persists in its tendency to concentrate cultural infrastructure at a finite number of locations – erecting totemic containers, where the arts are merely traded and displayed, rather than produced.
Have we reached a saturation point? Can development still coexist with creativity or is London handing over its role as a centre of cultural production to cities like Birmingham, Berlin or Brussels?
Unit 11 has studied London’s cultural ecology, concentrating on the area of Vauxhall. We have developed strategies to counteract the generic character of the Global City which, expanding from Nine Elms, threatens the distinctive cultural specificity of this peculiar district.