The task of this paper is twofold: The first is to parse out aspects of continuity and change in the decentralist urbanisation of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC), through utilising an experimental methodological combination of two urban epistemologies: planetary urbanisation and assemblage urbanism. The second task, responding to the first, is to reflect on this theoretical approach and thus assess these much-debated epistemologies of the urban. To contextualise decentralism, this chapter includes a brief review of the new towns, an influential type of urbanisation, which preceded the LDDC, and of the lobbying activity of their representative organisation, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) amidst the ‘crisis of the inner city’ in the 1970s and 1980s, and briefly surveys plans for Docklands from the 1970s. This history of decentralism, as a form of urban transformation, is framed in light of reification and the idea of second nature. The assemblage urbanist side of the methodology utilised by the chapter places particular focus on the retaining wall—an overlooked infrastructure that was key to the rehabilitation of both docks and rivers in East London. The chapter shows how retaining walls were subject to a perpendicular reorientation under the tenure of the LDDC, where a decentralist typology persisted within the post-industrial context. The chapter concludes that despite their political differences, the LDDC in fact came closest to realising plans for the ‘decongested’, low-density inner city advocated for by the TCPA in the 1970s, and ends with a reflection on the approach utilised and its future potential.
|Title of host publication||Emerging Urban Spaces|
|Subtitle of host publication||A Planetary Perspective|
|Editors||Philipp Horn, Paola Alfaro D'Anençon, Ana Claudia Cardoso|
|Place of Publication||Cham, Switzerland|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Feb 2018|
|Name||The Urban book series|