The location of our design project holds a long history of disruptive change.
The houses in Artillery Lane, Gun Street, and Brushfield Street were built around 1690 on land that was previously a weapons practice ground, and in the Middle Ages the site of the monastery of St. Mary Spital, the largest hospital in Europe.
In the 1750s many of these buildings were transformed in their use by Huguenot silk merchants – Protestant settlers from France. Nonconformist and politically dissenting groups as well as immigrants began settling in Spitalfields, which experienced waves of violent protest, often by journeymen weavers, against wage exploitation. In the 1830s the weaving economy in Spitalfields collapsed, the area entered a long decline during which it become infamous for some of the worst living conditions in London.
Jewish refugees came to the area to work in the tailoring trade, and in turn during from the 1960’s were replaced by an influx of Bangladeshi migrants. Today, wealthy property investors are displacing the current inhabitants of Spitalfields; in a process now commonly understood as ‘gentrification’.
As market forces push towards a homogenisation of culture, is there a role for difference, or resistance or retaliation?