I’m fascinated by gentrification and by the creation of new urban and creative precincts through the rejuvenation of historical or post-industrial spaces. In this next series of posts, I will present photo-journals of at least half a dozen of these new urban precincts in a similar number of cities that I have travelled to in the last two (or more) years.
Note that new urban precincts are characterised (in my view) by the following:
- A contrast in lifestyles and incomes
- Ethnic diversity encroached upon by a often predominantly white or white-acting middle-classed “yuppie”community
- Strong historical linkages to the city’s development
- The co-location / co-incidence of arts and cultural activities, institutions and clusters
- A marketing approach that stresses lifestyle, luxury, creativity, community
- Often includes a waterfront living aspect
- Rapid development of mixed-use residential complexes with pseudo-public spaces
- Support from the city authorities, who often designate these areas as special development zones and provide some degree of funding or (tax) incentives to developers.
The first destination profiled is Deptford, straddled between the Lewisham and Greenwich boroughs in Southeast London; a rapidly gentrifying area and a place I called home for six months in late 2010-early 2011.
Map of Deptford. While the geographical boundary between Deptford and Greenwich is Deptford Creek, the purple line represents the administrative border between the boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham (across which Deptford is straddled). [MAP UPDATED.]
A Stark Contrast in Lifestyles – Yuppie vs Lower-income
Ethnic Diversity – Caribbean, Persian, Turkish, Vietnamese, Nigerian, etc.
Historic Landscapes – The ancient church of St Nicholas
Waterfront Living – where the Deptford Creek meets the Thames
Gated Luxury Residential Communities facing the Mother Lode – Canary Wharf
Student Housing, also a Gated Community.
I lived here and while I was here, there was a gang-rape in the compound and two of my immediate neighbours’ rooms were broken into and robbed by someone with the keys. The company will not admit it, of course. I moved out.
CCTV Cameras – ubiquitous symbols of a progressive modernity
New “Luxury” Development – Greenwich Creekside
Another New Luxury Development – Theatro
Yet Another New Luxury Development on its way (and this is just a sample).
Council Housing Estates – actually quite lovely architecturally, in my opinion.
Public Playground by the Council Housing Estates
Deptford High Street – a thriving, diverse ethnic community. This is Deptford Market.
Deptford Station – on Deptford High Street, again site of multiple crimes, though it was rapidly improving and gentrifying even when I lived there.
Caribbean African Restaurant – a congregating place for the large Afro-Caribbean African community on Deptford High Street
LABAN Conservatory of Dance – designed by Herzog & de Meuron to be stunning
and completely out-of-place, though it looks slightly out-of-place.
Arts as the Gentrification Juggernaut – Creekside Artists
Arts as the Vanguards of Gentrification – Cockpit Arts
Arts as Gentrification’s Fore-runner – APT Gallery
Street Art Sort of “street art”
The Deptford Project – a
community-run cafe on Deptford High Street, with lovely brunches catering to the hipster Goldsmiths College crowd.
The beautiful and tranquil churchyard of St Paul’s in Deptford, Spring
[Afternote on Marketing for North Deptford Developments:
- “Bespoke, luxury, waterside living”
- Proximity to the arts, with little reference to the area’s deep historical links as London’s historic shipyards from during the time of
Elizabeth IHenry VIII.
- Marketed as “Greenwich,” even though it is North Deptford, in order to avoid association with ethnic, lower-income Deptford that is adjacent to it and unavoidable
- Total disregard for high levels of crime in the area.]