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Pressure Squared: Gillette Square in Dalston

Wednesday 29th November, 2017

In an article in BD online, David Rudlin writes about Gillette Square in Dalston, a public space that a couple of years ago had been shortlisted for one of the Academy of Urbanism's Awards. An excerpt from the article is below, and subscribers to BD can access the full article via the link on the right. 

 

Looking back at the original write-up done as part of the awards process it was clear that the Academy had recognised that it was a good place without necessarily understanding the struggle that lay behind its creation and the threats lurking in the shadows. The initial write up didn’t even mention the fact that this is the only black and ethnic minority-created square in London; that it was the culmination of a battle that dates back to the radical squats of the 1960s or indeed that it is the heart of a cultural renaissance of music and black culture in one of the most diverse parts of London. This is one of the issues that the Academy is keen to address going forward - not just to celebrate ‘nice’ urbanism, but to explore its role in bringing diverse communities together in places like Dalston. One of the contributors at the symposium said that Gillette Square was a space that is absolutely unique in the capital - 'the only place in London that is like the Caribbean where you can just sit and be’.

The problem is that the more successful this process is the greater the lure to the forces of regeneration (sorry I mean gentrification). The event heard speakers from Bankside and Brixton, other parts of London facing similar pressures. We heard about fantasticly successful pop-up venues in Brixton full of 'white people drinking'. Nothing wrong with that but it's hardly Brixton. The success of these type of regeneration initiatives is only serving to make these areas safe for invading armies of hipsters. This in turn pushes up rents and prices and the effect, however unintentional, is that the local community is squeezed out. There was much discussion at the symposium about what we might do to prevent or at least slow down this process. 

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