Lea Valley Drift: paths, objects and the creation of urban narratives
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press
The article considers the legacies of place revealed by critical walking journeys through the city and the potential for transforming their interpretation through the design and distribution of new forms of map.\ud \ud Lea Valley Drift was devised and co-designed with Chloe Street during 2012-13 and our augmented walking maps were published for the opening of the first phase of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London in 2013. Seven thousand Lea Valley Drift maps have been made available, distributed with The Wick newspaper, at the Timber Lodge in the new park and at The White Building on its fringe through support from the ‘Emerging East’ project of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). The map aims to widen participation, stimulate physical movement and evoke reflective connections between the disparate territories of the park, the surrounding neighbourhoods and the wider valley.\ud \ud The article speculates that the city presents an array of memory objects that can be seen as an alternative ‘formalisation’ of our existence to that of more abstract text based analysis of histories and strategic plans for the future. \ud \ud A primary purpose of our map was to reveal pleasures that can be derived from the current conditions. The co-habitation of dissimilar uses establishes a special form of vibrancy and accessibility that is both intriguing, thought provoking and life affirming.\ud \ud The drift maps propose contemplation of the nature of change and its relationship to belonging. They promote a mindset of ‘accommodation’, one of enjoying dialogues between different worlds.\ud \ud A map can engage receptive and interpretative skills that are infrequently used simultaneously. Experiences on and off-site create a shift in the perceived identity of the locality, a change in expectations and in the possibility of making sense of transitions. They produce new places.