Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 October 2022
‘Perhaps the Shard has caused this … this undertow of rebellion, saying, “No, we’re not having this, we’re not having our city ripped apart, our communities ripped apart.”’Joanna, Leathermarket JMB, 2018
These powerful words were spoken as part of an interview in a 2018 documentary called In the Shadow of the Shard, by the filmmaker and writer John Rogers. The film looks at how residents experience development pressure and urban change in a formerly industrial, Central London neighbourhood – Bermondsey. Traditionally a working-class, productionoriented district of London, Bermondsey lies just to the south of the River Thames, outside of the old twin cities of Westminster and London, urbanizing from the seventeenth century.
Though long a peripheral place, since the late twentieth century Bermondsey has been the focus of expansions of the City of London’s office development and recognized as an ‘urban frontier’ of gentrification (Keddie and Tonkiss, 2010). The Shard – a ninety-five-storey, ‘super-tall’ (Graham, 2014) skyscraper designed by the Italian design practice Renzo Piano Building Workshop and built between 2003 and 2008 over the London Bridge railway station – is seen in the film as symbolic of the encroachments of the centre, the city, capitalism, iconic architecture, and middle-class residents on the neighbourhood.
Joanna is a long-term social housing resident. In the interview, she describes some of the ways in which locals not only experience but also endeavour to resist the effects of these encroachments on their homes and communities to which they are attached.The Shard itself may glitter and gleam, but change involving the twin processes of redevelopment and displacement, she suggests, is not renewing, not improving, not leading to a better future for existing residents but is instead “rip[ping] apart” vital, life-supporting socio-material fabrics of lived place. These impacts are part of the Shard’s shadow upon the neighbourhood, its history and its future.
In the last chapter, we explored how the openness of urban design can shape care relations and practices, contributing to how care is given, received and experienced at different stages of life. Here, drawing on Fisher and Tronto’s (1990) definition of care as a practice of ‘continuing worlds’ of meaning, relationship and attachment, my focus is on conceptualizing the continuity of place-based relations over time as a form of care through urban design.
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