Creative cities

Londoners have all heard of the term ‘gentrification’, that phenomenon where a building is knocked down and renewed by upper or middle-class people, usually in poorer areas thus displacing low income families and small businesses. Elephant and Castle, the home of LCC, is one of the many areas in London that are deemed ‘up and coming’ because of gentrification.

The very popular Elephant Artworks is the perfect example of that; described as a ‘creative hub’, Artworks houses over 30 start up businesses including restaurants, bars, shops and yoga studios. The space is made up of recycled shipping containers and is usually quite popular amongst students and young professionals, making for a trendy hangout place. The uglier side of this is perhaps the fact that this pop-up and the ‘Elephant Park’ £1.5 billion regeneration project is replacing Heygate Estate’s 1200 council homes with only 71 new ones. Before it was hogged by developers in 2011, the empty space was also a community area that was used as a playground and football field.

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The Artworks
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The space Artworks was built on, formerly occupied by the Heygate Estate

One of the big arguments for regeneration is that it gives opportunities for new creatives and artists to have their work promoted, and at a much cheaper cost than in any other regular studio. Creatives therefore find themselves faced with a challenge: is the death of the artist the birth of the urban entrepreneur?  Is it truly a case of ‘adapt or die’? Creatives play a major role in urban regeneration, which benefits them greatly, but perhaps at the cost of other people’s basic needs. Should we as young creatives take advantage of pop-up shops? Entrepreneurs are creators of trends, they observe consumers and create something popular which the consumers will see as cultural, but it is actually a trend. This is exactly what is happening with pop-ups: they are seen as cool, edgy and street, they seem authentic and full of culture but they are actually just trends targeted at a young middle class audience. We are full of trends but we are missing culture.

Reference list:

The Artworks Elephant (2017). Available at: http://www.theartworks.london. (Accessed: 09/03/17)

Hancox, D. (2014) Fuck Your Pop-Up Shops. Available at: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/shipping-container-elephant-park-dan-hancox. (Accessed: 09/03/17)

Regeneration Seeks Amnesia (1): The Artworks (2013). Available at: https://southwarknotes.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/regeneration-wants-amnesia-1-the-artworks/. (Accessed: 09/03/17)

 

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