The rules of the game: scarcity, regulatory regimes and open space in bromley-by-bow

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SoftGrid in association with AESOP and IFHP
In a plan of Swan Housing Association’s recent development at Rainhill Way, external areas are shaded in three colours. The light green, spread around the refurbished and new build housing blocks, denotes ‘Green Space’. A few darker green areas are ‘Formal Playspace’. Somewhere in between the two is a swathe of orange marking ‘Incidental Playspace’. These coloured lines on maps tell a lot. Within five minutes’ walk of Rainhill Way are numerous open spaces managed by other housing associations, private developers and Tower Hamlets Homes (the council housing management organisation), each with their own terms of classification and regulation. If we zoom out to the Bromley-by-Bow ward borders and plot all the nine areas recognised as open space by Tower Hamlets council, we find none of the open space at Rainhill Way on the map we produce. Mapping everything the council calls a park produces an even smaller cluster - just five spaces within the ward. These simple maps take us directly to significant questions about how urban space is being produced, classified, measured and regulated in Bromley-by-Bow - and howthis relates to its use, interpretation and meaning by those who live there. The curiously precise delineation and classification of open space in a new housing development suggests considerable thought went into its provision. But whatthought, by whom, under what influences? And what does it mean to someone living at Rainhill Way or the surrounding areas in Bromley-by-Bow as they unwittingly chase a football across Incidental Play Space and into Green Space?
Architecture & Planning in Times of Scarcity : Reclaiming the Possibility of Making. 3rd AESOP European Urban Summer School 2012, Manchester
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