The EUSS is an invitation – a call to arms – to engage in the quest for and development of new ways of thinking about and new tools in response to emerging issues of scarcity – a condition generally defined by the insufficiency of cultural, social or economic resources. But scarcity is about more than simple resource depletion: it is embedded in political, social and ecological systems. How and by whom is scarcity generated, engineered, constructed and perceived? What are we, as practitioners in an urban context, to do under conditions of scarcity in the built environment? The EUSS is an invitation to reclaim the possibility of making the city in our times of scarcity.
London is the capital city of England, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. It is now considered a leading global city, the most visited city in the world and its largest financial centre. London will be the host the Summer Olympic Games 2012. In September 2012, the city – its population and infrastructure – will be beginning to recover from the Event and to cope with its legacy.
Participants in the EUSS will work and test their ideas on the case of a ‘deprived’ East London ward surrounded by highways and railway lines and located in-between central London, the Canary Wharf Estate and the Olympic site: Bromley-by-Bow. This is a contested urban territory typical of London, with many aspects of social inequality manifested spatially and socially. Sixty-one percent of households in this area are from ethnic minorities (particularly immigrants from Bangladesh); 43% of people aged 16-74 have no qualifications; unemployment is at almost three times the national level; almost 70% of tenure is council housing/housing association. The area features almost five times the national level of overcrowding and residents exhibit exceptionally poor health.
Spectacular event architecture, hastily refurbished façades in anticipation of Olympic visitors and the everyday reality of historically neglected East London all offer the context for EUSS explorations: a charged territory awaiting the engagement of young planning and design professionals and their proposals for intelligent, creative interventions.