London, the (n)ever-changing city
3 – 14 December 2012
London, United Kingdom
London has a reputation of a vibrant, dynamic city constantly reinventing and transforming itself; a highly adaptable organism that embraces change and, like an astute tradesman, turns it to its own advantage. From street-fashions to the redevelopment of entire urban areas, London is an ever-changing city. Yet, despite its apparent dynamism, this is the never-changing city of a society functioning through a remarkably resilient class-system, where Victorian houses keep resisting ‘continental’ apartment buildings, their residents peacefully ruled by a partly unelected and hereditary system of governance.
“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, the more things change, the more they remain the same. This often-quoted epigram by Alphonse Karr, could fittingly refer to these observations. But in what ways does this really apply on the city? Which are London’s never-changing substrata? And which are its ever-changing manifestations? How do they impact on one another? Can change and innovation happen in the absence of a rigid framework? Or can it be that stable and robust infrastructures actually form the basis for change in the superstructure of the city? Does this change really matter? To who, and under what conditions? In what ways does the city’s built environment change in response to socio-economic forces? How does it itself impede or support socio-economic change?
The annual event of Urban Transcripts for 2012 consisted of an exhibition and an international workshop on the city, related to the above mentioned problematic.