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Publication Detail
Planning urban manufacturing, built form and urban environments: lessons from inner London
  • Publication Type:
    Conference presentation
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Ferm J, Griffiths S, Panayotopoulos-Tsiros D, Froy F, Palominos Ortega N
  • Date:
  • Name of Conference:
    RC21 – Research Committee on Urban and Regional Development
  • Conference place:
    University of Antwerp
  • Conference start date:
  • Conference finish date:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    industry, built environment, London, planning, morphology, manufacturing
Despite concerns about the loss of industry, industrial land and buildings in high-value post-industrial cities, there is concurrently a renewed enthusiasm for the revival of ‘new’ urban manufacturing and its potential to contribute to the socio-economic diversity of cities. Yet, little is known about how policy can best support the retention and growth of urban manufacturing. This paper engages with this debate and explores the relationship between contemporary urban manufacturing and the evolution of its related built form, street networks, and planning policy. Through the examination of two areas of inner London with concentrations of urban manufacturing – Hackney Mare Street and Old Kent Road – the paper examines the historical evolution and transformation of their built environment, investigating how infrastructure, war damages and planning policies, have led to the current urban tissue and the range of existing urban manufacturing building typologies. To better understand how the range and type of manufacturing building typologies identified are embedded in London’s historical built environment we approach the development trajectories of these two manufacturing clusters from an urban-morphological perspective, as advanced by Julienne Hanson’s analysis of the transformation of London’s built environment in the twentieth-century [1]. We explore how the aggregation of their morphogenetic features results in tighter or looser urban tissue and the implications this has for understanding and managing industrial building typologies as part of the evolution of the city fabric. Using local empirical findings, we discuss the relation between manufacturing and the city and reflect on its association with modernism and the influence of post-war planning. The paper reveals that, despite demographic and territorial similarities in the late 19th Century, the mixed land uses, and smaller plot sizes of Hackney Mare Street has allowed for a more resilient development pattern, whereas the greater separation of land uses, large plot sizes and more formal, rule-governed environment in the Old Kent Road has facilitated its ‘reimagination’ for large-scale regeneration. The analysis of the morphogenetic transformation of both areas illustrates the urban tissue’s varying degrees of flexibility and adaptability to change but also the complexity underpinning spaces of urban manufacturing. Most importantly, it suggests that the pressures they are currently facing from (re)development are inexorably linked to their current urban form and the way it evolved during the 20th Century. Together with recent work on the design of urban manufacturing and the re-integration of material production into the life of the working city, we believe this points to an important emerging research agenda. One which fundamentally brings our attention to the importance of place in both determining the location decisions of manufacturers and their fate once established in their urban environments. The paper concludes that greater attention needs to be paid to the relationships between urban manufacturing activity and built urban form if policies that aim to protect or support the revival of manufacturing in cities are to avoid negative unintended consequences. [1] Hanson, J. ‘Urban transformations: a history of design ideas’. Urban Design International. 5.2: 97-122 (2000).
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