Whitechapel, London

The workshop explored the way that this urban fabric can respond to the concept of Innovation Environments.Whitechapel is a diverse and complex part of east London, on the east edge of the City with its strong expansionist pressure. It is being affected by changes in east London, notably the continuing expansion of Canary Wharf, the large scale development of Stratford City, and the redevelopment of the Lea Valley which includes the 270 hectare Olympics site. To the north are the rapidly changing areas of Spitalfields and Hoxton. The study area is identified in the London Plan (the Mayor’s spatial development strategy up to 2020) as an “area of opportunity with significant capacity for redevelopment”.

The area has a mix of offices, residential, light industry, sales and transport spaces. The physical fabric is heterogeneous, with a range of scales and types of buildings and spaces. There are already proposals for significant new office space around Aldgate, a new main campus for London Metropolitan University, and major new residential development. The Royal London Hospital is currently expanding and improving its large cluster of facilities. The area has very good transport connections, and the new Crossrail will give the area even stronger public transport connections across London.

The dynamics of change will be very strong in this part of east London over the next ten years, raising key issues about how to establish an effective urban strategy, and what spatial and programmatic proposals would best develop such a strategy. The workshop theme is urbanized innovation. The area has many resources for developing as an innovation environment and addressing the needs of a knowledge-based economy. Study groups selected specific sites and topics within the area, and developed their own proposals.