The Isle of Dogs in East London is a microcosm of this expansive structural system. The former docklands area, which is home to Canary Wharf and the surrounding residential areas of Millwall and Cubitt Town, is in a state of change, with 30 new projected towers over the next 10 years.
We have extracted evidence of a constantly fluctuating present: mapping the site; excavating, recording, and indexing data; and investigating the sales tactics and advertising language used to promote the new towers which reveal the conflicting realities that exist in the area.
This project was born from a desire to better understand spatial politics and how it is embedded in the makeup of the city. Our aims were to make connections between the decisions, processes, abstract lines and projected decisions that happen externally, and impact directly upon the physical reality of the spaces they concern.
The Alternate Docklands Showroom aims to reveal and interpret the narratives that lay hidden in plain sight and question typical notions of value and values.
The showroom is split into several sections:
Uses the language of museum display to look at how the identity of materials can change depending on the context that they are in, whilst questioning what is seen as important or worthy of attention. By abstracting textures and collecting unusual artifacts, we aim to highlight elements of the built environment that are hard to identify, abandoned or overlooked.
We physicalise the vision of the developers, combining promotional material with the objects that communicate the aspiration for the area as London is sold to buyers as a view from above rather than the reality on the ground. Surfaces of marble and granite are abundant, and specific brands become emblems of the luxury projected lifestyle.
Plants exist as a dual signifier of both fantasy and neglect. Inaccessible sites dotted around the Island are overgrown, a sign that land has changed hands or planning permission is waiting to be granted. At the same time, hoardings and sales rooms promise an oasis-like abundance of exotic foliage to transport the buyer into a haven of tranquility.
The voices of local people and developers are staged in a fictional dialogue which highlights the disconnect and lack of communication between the two. The film uses window-like frames to focus on a combination of real footage, which documents the changing area, and virtually constructed environments which depict the developer’s projected fantasies.
Combines the key findings of our research with articles, analysis, archival material and our image database.