Following a long hiatus I have finally found time to resume work on the mapping of UK plotlander sites and have now published an interactive map of all currently known locations.
What is immediately apparent is Hardy and Ward’s focus on London and the South East in the mapping for their book ‘Arcadia For All’. Yet in beginning to map the location of plotland sites from other research and archive resources a wider picture extending beyond London begins to be suggested.
This has long been my suspicion: that the London-centric mapping of plotlanders perhaps only represents a part of the full UK picture.
If the extent of plotlander communities surrounding London can be seen as a response to the problems of industirlasition, poverty, and bomb damage faced by people (and in particular the working classes) living in cities between the late 1800s and post World War II, then it would suggest that all industrial cities would likely have experienced a similar process. This supposition begins makes sense of the sites in similar proximity to Manchester and Liverpool in the North West and the hint of sites around Newcastle in the North East.
It is hoped that many more such sites will be found in the future. To aid in the project of locating lost, forgotten, and previously unknown plotland sites I have now created an online google form by which people can submit the location of unknown plotland site locations so that the full extent of UK plotlanders can be mapped.
Hot on the heels of this weeks release of ‘Architecture and Space Re-imagined’, today sees the publication of ‘Forgotten Plotlanders’ in the Housing, Theory and Society journal.
This paper marks the first journal publication relating to my post-doctoral research into informal space and housing in the UK. Whilst it builds upon themes of alterneity and informal space theory drawn from ‘Architecture and Space Re-imagined’ it reflects the first translation of these ideas into a UK context.
This trajectory of research supports and frames an upcoming AHRC funding application for ECR’s. Titled ‘Subsistent Places; Productive Lives’, this project will analyse the history of other plotlander sites in order to document the formalisation of space in the UK. This line of inquiry will support a critique of the UK model of speculative neoliberal mass-housing with the ultimate intention of proposing an alternative model of non-speculative development and positive anarchistic informality in UK space.
Once again, if anyone wishes to discuss the ideas raised in the book then please get in touch.
Colin Ward’s discourses on the Arcadian landscape of “plotlander” housing are unique documentations of the anarchistic birth, life, and death of the last informal housing communities in the UK. Today, the forgotten history of plotlander housing documented by Ward can be re-read in the context of both the apparently never-ending “housing crisis” in the UK and the increasing awareness of the potential value of learning from comparable informal housing from the Global South. This paper’s observations of a previously unknown and forgotten plotlander site offer a chance to begin a new conversation regarding the positive potential of informal and alternative housing models in the UK and wider Westernized world.