Mapping Urban Ecologies

The London team will work with a community in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets (Bromley-by-Bow) on the optimisation of key resource cycles affected by scarcity. Bromley-by-Bow (BBB), surrounded by highways and railway lines, is London’s most deprived ward and one of the most deprived wards in the UK (based on the Index of Deprivation, 2007). It is characterised by high levels of unemployment, low incomes, poor health, and overcrowded and substandard housing. 61% of households 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 with 16% of unemployed people having never worked and 35% long term unemployed; almost 70% of tenure is council/housing association. Understanding local ecologies includes capturing the past, present, and future actors, organisations, resources, and flows that are situated in a given context, and their potential and impact. Such resource cycles could include: shelter (it is estimated that the population of BBB will grow fast over the next few years, but it is unclear how the housing demand will be met, especially with regards to current cuts in housing benefits and planned transition in housing policy); transport; food, energy, waste, education (How will the potentially increased demand for kindergartens and schools be met?), and communication. We will define and visualise the ‘system’ and make this information accessible to a wider public (this, by definition, includes everyone from the regular resident to the specialised academic to the design professional to the planning officer). Mapping and visualising existing urban ecologies will facilitate debate between stakeholders and allow for the optimisation of the system as a whole or parts of it. Initial fieldwork explores scarcity in relation to processes concerning the built environment.