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This walk explores issues of changing populations and changing places, and how the dynamics of international migration impact locally on social patterns in public places. The geographer Massey coined the term ‘throwntogetherness’ – expressing the multitude of stories and relationships, and continual ‘work in progress’, of all places. The complex dynamics and social histories of Woolwich offer many points of discussion to connect these ideas to designed landscapes.
We will link two key typologies of outdoor space, the park and the square, and examine how the civic nature of these places is expressed and experienced by communal identities shaped by ethnicity, gender, age and class. Who has a sense of ownership of these places, and is the use of them perceived as equitable? What is the relationship between sociability, safety and wellbeing in urban landscapes? We will trace how communal spaces may evolve in times of population fluidity, and discuss the ways that social activities adapt to the affordances of individual places. This walk will take place in Woolwich, taking in Gordon Square (Gustafson Porter, 2008) and Plumstead Common. It will be led by Jasber Singh (Greenwich Inclusion Project) and Clare Rishbeth (Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, University of Sheffield) who are collaborating on a research project in Woolwich exploring the social dynamics of benches, and the problems and pleasures of hanging around outside.