What is Save London?


/ WHAT ? /









We ask questions about the way that politics operates in our city.  Our area of expertise and practice is design; it is through design, and writing about design, that we are able to ask questions and challenge assumptions about London and its systems.

We are interested in the design and architecture of London and how the city is experienced by its inhabitants. The starting point is a set of eight essays, which each investigate the history of one particular subject, and then set out a proposition for the future.  The subject matter includes: access to housing in London, regeneration, forms of protest, location and role of art and design in the city, and immigration policies that effect designers. (see below for further information.)








/ WHO ? /

We are a group of historians, architects, writers and designers who are taking the themes and ideas in the SAVE LONDON essays as starting points and as catalysts for our work.








/ WHY ? (aims) /

We now want to take our ideas and our research to the next level, by engaging with people from outside of our disciplines.  Engaging with individuals in Higher Education we would stage debates, workshops, lectures, studio sessions and design crits with all parties.  We want to debate with, learn from, and create, with researchers in the fields of politics, economics, geography, sociology, urban studies, science and technology.

This will allow us to test our propositions and provocations.  And for professionals working outside of design, we want to make the case for design, show that it is a powerful tool that contains real potential to make changes in our world.








/ HOW ? /

The way we work is collaborative: the architect working with the historian at each stage of the design process, for example.  We intend that the ideas of SAVE LONDON manifest themselves in a number of ways:

– We will run specific design projects, including: setting of design briefs, joint research sessions, design crits, and the making of final products.

– We will set up public events in which different parties come together to debate ideas.

– We will write essays, articles, fiction, critical writing.

– We will stage exhibitions, including during the London Design Festival 2015.

– We will put together a set of teaching projects to explore the concepts with students.

– We will create a website to post our work, ask questions, publicise the project both locally and internationally.

A key aim throughout will be to take our research outside of academia.








/ SAVE LONDON: The essays, by Helen Kearney /

Essay 1, ‘A CPO for London’, is a race through history of house building in London, focusing on the use of the mechanism of the “Compulsory Purchase Order”, and proposes a CPO for the One Hyde Park buildings in Knightsbridge in order to regenerate that area.  Read it here…

Essay 2, ‘Move London’ describes histories in which a country’s capital city has moved geographic location – such as Madrid, Washington, St. Petersburg / Moscow – and proposes that the capital city be moved out of London.

Essay 3, ‘Save Whitehall: Build the Parliament Schools’ introduces a history of school building and education philosophy in the UK, and then proposes that the now empty Houses of Parliament buildings be redeveloped into new schools, a museum and a library.

Essay 4, ‘Stay in London: New Visa Regulations’ considers the history of the trope of the émigré in art and design – of Hemingway in Paris, for example, and explains how it is that recent visa changes are skewed to not let artists/designers stay in the UK, and proposes a new form of visa to correct this.

Essay 5, ‘Save Someone Else’ gives a brief and selective history of solidarity, especially of support for trades union activity by outsiders, and then proposes new forms of political solidarity that use art and design, that are more appropriate for our time.

Essay 6, ‘Walk London’ describes the history of urban walking as a design practice – in which walking is a powerful tool for understanding the city.  A walking tour of city is proposed, starting in the square mile and then moving east, taking in housing estates, old docklands, new skyscapers and abandoned pleasure gardens.

Essay 7, ‘Re-encroach the City’ gives a history of population and industry movement in London, focusing on the history of the art industry in London.  The proposition is that artists should leap-frog directly back into the centre, into the City, re-encroaching on the areas they are usually priced out of.

Essay 8, ‘Leave Me Alone !’ focuses in on one building: Battersea Power Station.  It tells a story of regeneration in London, comparing and contrasting different examples, and then proposes that the best thing for Battersea would be to leave it alone.