Working in partnership, the Greater London Authority (GLA), the British Council, New London Architecture (NLA) and SEGRO have appointed We Made That to curate London’s exhibit at the inaugural Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism. The Biennale will feature a selection of the most innovative public projects and initiatives from 50 cities around the world with London showcased as one of two ‘cities in focus’, alongside Vienna.
This new Biennale is set to become an important part of the international calendar, running from 1 September to 5 November 2017.
We Made That has been working closely with public and local authorities on a number of research projects and strategies that explore the city’s relationship with industry and production. Over the past two years, in the context of London’s now well-documented loss of industrial land, the team have studied over 1,000 businesses operating from industrial sites, including in Charlton Riverside, Hackney Wick and Park Royal. These sites are productive, varied, full of surprises and under threat. Being located in London is important to the businesses they accommodate, but many are unclear of how they fit into plans for London’s future.
The team has found that London is a hugely productive city across many different areas and sectors, with a diverse range of workspaces and that these key sites of employment must be protected. We Made That is proposing a series of short films to document the ‘threads’ of products and manufacturers that are required to service a renowned cultural venue, demonstrating the people and processes that are crucial to ensure London remains productive. The films will celebrate the places, skills and networks that currently exist as well as illustrating the key challenges and opportunities facing the city in the near future, drawing on the wealth of existing information captured in GLA work and the recent WRK/ LDN insight study produced by NLA, as well as SEGRO’s recently launched ‘Keep London Working’ report. The curatorial approach will provide a critical interrogation of the policies and pressures on a variety of industries, asking why they are vital for the city and the people that live within it. The exhibition is part of the official UK/Korea 2017–18 programme, the British Council’s season celebrating and showcasing the UK’s innovation and excellence in the arts and creative industries in Korea.
Oliver Goodhall, Co-founding Partner at We Made That, says: “We’re very pleased and excited to be appointed to this project which will transport an important story about the capital’s inventiveness, productivity and vision to South Korea to be viewed in a global context. Although seen through the lens of a cultural venue, the behind-the-scenes ‘threads’ of supply that we are exploring will illustrate wider London-serving industrial activities like urban logistics, high-tech manufacturing and food & drink production, as well as ‘cultural’ production processes like set-design, costume production and audio-visual services. The exhibition will illuminate the range of skill sets, building typologies and workspace needs across London.”
Sarah Mann, Director of Architecture Design Fashion at the British Council, says: “We are really excited to be working with We Made That, NLA, SEGRO and the GLA for this installation. As in Seoul, London’s city-grown industries are under increasing pressure from new developments and the British Council is interested in exploring how we can support these to thrive alongside each other. The installation forms part of a wider partnership with Seoul Biennale, which forges links between cities in the UK and South Korea, exploring the common challenges and opportunities of our respective urban environments.”
The Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism will be co-directed by Hyungmin Pai and London-based architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo. It will be organized around two major exhibitions – a ‘Thematic’ exhibition and ‘Cities’ exhibition – as well as ‘live projects’ and research conducted in partnership with Seoul Metropolitan Government. The ‘Cities’ exhibition will showcase the most innovative public projects and initiatives from 50 cities around the world. It will examine issues of city governance, public policy, and local conditions.