Previously at the ICA - Events

 Jessie Brennan A Fall of Ordinariness and Light (The Scheme), 2014. Commissioned for Progress by the Foundling Museum, 2014, courtesy the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2016.

Urban Planning as Social Cleansing

17 May 2017

Stephen Graham chairs an evening of short presentations from architects, geographers, artists and activists who are researching and tackling issues relating to urban planning in London and the UK. Exploring the developing city as both a problem and as a site for potential, two panels explore the current context and reality for those negatively affected by urban development and regeneration, and the methods being implemented to combat housing precarity now and in the future.

Professor of Cities and Society at Newcastle University, Stephen Graham is joined by: Alex Baker, a researcher interested in the junction of housing and security practices; artist Jessie Brennan, whose recent project Regeneration! brings together conversations and archives from brutalist housing estate Robin Hood Gardens; Geraldine Dening, architect and founder of Architects for Social Housing; urban geographer Loretta Lees, co-organiser of the Urban Salon, who writes about gentrification, urban regeneration and architecture; organiser Rachael Okiya of Take Back the City; geographer Alexander Vasudevan, author of Autonomous City: A History of Urban Squatting; and Ruth Sutcliffe from the Focus E15 campaign.

Speaker biographies

  • Alex Baker

    Alex Baker is a researcher interested in the junction of housing and security practices. He recently completed a doctoral thesis at Newcastle University on how eviction enforcement practices in the UK have developed in response to forms of resistance. He has published work on bailiffs, global counterinsurgency doctrine and drones in real estate.

  • Jessie Brennan

    Jessie Brennan is a London-based artist whose practice explores the inter-relations between people and places, informed by their social and political contexts and a direct engagement with the individuals who occupy them. Her authored books include Regeneration! (2015) and Re: development (2016).

  • Geraldine Dening

    Geraldine Dening is a senior lecturer at De Montfort University, founder of Geraldine Dening Architects, and co-founder of Architects for Social Housing, a socially engaged practice whose work includes proposing architectural design alternatives to the demolition of council and social housing estates, support for estate communities resisting the demolition of their homes, protest targeting the agents and beneficiaries of social cleansing, and propaganda about housing policy and the causes of the so-called housing 'crisis'.

  • Stephen Graham

    Stephen Graham is Professor of Cities and Society at the Global Urban Research Unit, based in Newcastle University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. He is the author or editor of several books, including Telecommunications and the City and Splintering Urbanism (both with Simon Marvin), Cities, War and Terrorism, Disrupted Cities: When Infrastructures Fail, Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism, and Vertical: The City from Satellites to Bunkers.

  • Loretta Lees

    Loretta Lees is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Leicester. She is an international expert on gentrification and urban regeneration, she has published 11 books and her most recent book Planetary Gentrification (with Hyun Shin and Ernesto Lopez-Morales) is the launch text for Polity’s new Urban Futures series. She is also an activist-scholar who is involved in fighting the gentrification of council estates in London, where she lives.

  • Rachael Okiya

    Rachael Okiya is an organiser with campaign Take Back the City. Rachael studied Sociology and Anthropology with Gender Studies and focused her dissertation on race, class and urban regeneration.

    Take Back the City is a grassroots campaign for disillusioned Londoners who are organising against rip-off rents, racist policing, pollution, lack of community spaces and unaccountable politicians. Their want is to create a democratic, diverse London for all, especially marginalised Londoners. The campaign takes inspiration from Spanish citizen platforms, where five years of austerity have shaken the establishment, and stress the importance of creative mediums, for example art and poetry, in attracting politically-disengaged participants.

  • Ruth Sutcliffe

    Ruth Sutcliffe is an activist organising with the Focus E15 campaign, which started in 2013 when a group of young mothers were served eviction notices by East Thames Housing Association after Newham Council cut its funding to the Focus E15 hostel for young homeless people. When they approached the council for help, the mothers were advised that they would have to accept private rented accommodation as far away as Manchester, Hastings and Birmingham if they wanted rehousing.

    The campaign has since gone from strength to strength, with a weekly stall in Stratford, an occupation of Newham Council’s housing office and a march of several hundred supporters to Newham Town Hall. The Focus E15 campaign celebrated its first birthday with an occupation of a disused block of flats on the nearly empty Carpenters Estate in Stratford, East London. 

  • Alexander Vasudevan

    Alexander Vasudevan is an Associate Professor of Human Geography at Oxford University. He is the author of the Autonomous City: A History of Urban Squatting and Metropolitan Preoccupations. His work has been published in several prestigious journals and he has also written for the Guardian, and openDemocracy.


E.g., 29-07-2021
E.g., 29-07-2021