Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment (SCIBE) is a three-year collaborative project with teams in London, Oslo and Vienna, running from 2010 to 2013 and funded by the Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA). The project explores how processes related to architecture and urban design can be improved through design-led innovation under conditions of scarcity. Scarcity is here defined as insufficiency of cultural, social or economic resources associated with the objects that make up the built environment as well as with the processes of its production, distribution, appropriation and maintenance. Scarcity in this context can be both real (things really are running out), perceived (depending on the individual’s circumstances) or constructed (through the machinations of politics, policy and the market).
SCIBE London works primarily in Bromley-by-Bow – according to the Indices of Deprivation, the city’s most deprived ward in 2007 and number nine on the list in 2010. For instance, in 2001, 61% of households in Bromley-by-Bow were from ethnic minorities (particularly immigrants from Bangladesh); 43% of people aged 16-74 had no qualifications; at 8.3%, unemployment was at almost three times the national level; and almost 70% of tenure was council housing/housing association (London Census 2001).
The contested urban territory, with many aspects of inequality manifested spatially and socially, is located in-between central London, the Canary Wharf Estate and the site of the forthcoming Olympics.