The study area is a diverse and complex part of east London, mid way between the consolidated city centre and the rapidly changing zone running from Stratford City (the largest development project so far approved in London with 1.2 million m2), and up the Lea valley with the 270 hectare Olympics site. The area is identified in the London Plan as a “site for intensification” and an “opportunity area”. The London Plan assumes the need for 345,000 additional dwellings by 2016, to be focused on “growth corridors”, and Hackney is included in the London–Stanstead-Cambridge Growth Corridor. The dynamics of change will be very strong in this part of east London over the next ten years, raising key issues about appropriate and possible urban strategies and proposals.
Central Hackney has a rich mix of residential, light industry, production, sales and transport spaces. The physical fabric is heterogeneous and disrupted, with a range of scales and types of buildings and spaces. Raised railway lines cut through both N – S and E- W. The proposed Crossrail corridor of restricted development runs E- W along the rail line connecting Dalston – Hackney Central – Homerton. Each group has developed an argument and proposals related to issues of infrastructure, work spaces and living spaces, which relate to research themes in the programme: urban intensification at multiple scales; the potential of innovation environments and the spatial implications of knowledge-based economies; and irregularity and poverty as continuing urban conditions.