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Re-imagining Poplar: Research commission for British Council

A research commission for the British Council's International Architecture Showcase to generate new thinking on regeneration in East London. The project was carried out in collaboration with Urbanworks, South Africa.

We were one of ten UK-based architecture practices selected by the British Council to be paired with architects from around the world for their International Architecture Showcase in 2014. The teams collaborated over an intensive two week period to generate fresh ideas and new thinking for sites undergoing regeneration in Poplar and the Lea Valley. Teams included Sarah Wigglesworth architects, MUF and Duggan Morris.

We worked with Johannesburg-based Urbanworks to investigate the theme of Transition through the context of an industrial site adjacent to the Limehouse Cut.


"As transformations and changes take place communities are affected. Transition has historically permeated Poplar and affected its communities for better or for worse. With the dramatic changes set to take place in the area, how can we plan for this transition and how can we assure that communities are engaged and not alienated by the changes taking place?

How can transition be celebrated and harnessed rather than seen as an inevitable outcome of "progress"? What does a transition in industries and commerce mean to an area and how can this change be managed?"


Our study investigated whether a high-density, more adaptable ownership model for overlapping uses and people can provide a resilient solution for places in transition and create neighbourhoods of character, distinctiveness and vitality.

Drawing upon the industrial history of the Empson Street site, the project presents a reinterpretation of the areas rich heritage as a place of making and servicing London. A new mixed-use live/work quarter is proposed, where micro-manufacturer and maker co-operatives self-build their environment and become embedded into the place through collective authorship and access to ownership.

For a copy of the PDF publication please contact


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