Richard Sennett pours scorn on Tech City plans
Academic says scheme is death knell for Shoreditch
Richard Sennett has dismissed Architecture 00:/’s plans for a new technical and creative institute at Old Street’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’.
The day after prime minister David Cameron announced £50 million to green-light the scheme, the LSE professor poured scorn on the idea.
He said: “When the prime minister and mayor announced there will now be a dedicated space for creativity I thought, ‘This area is now over’.
“The idea of building a place where we put all the tech people contravenes why that area grew up in the first place. The reason the area is a centre for innovation already is that most of the firms that are here weren’t meant to be here. It was somewhere planners never expected them to go,” he told the Urban Age: Electric City conference which was held yards from the Old Street roundabout last week.
Sennett likened the idea to Masdar, the zero-carbon city masterplanned by Foster & Partners in the Abu Dhabi desert, or Songdo in South Korea.
“These are two versions of the stupefying smart city,” he said. “There is no stimulation through trial and error; people learn their city passively… The smart city is over-zoned, defying the fact that real development in cities is often haphazard, or in between the cracks of what is allowed.”
Announcing the money, Cameron said: “The UK is in a global race and I am determined that we as a government continue doing everything we can to equip the UK to compete and thrive in that race.
“That’s why we’re investing in creating the largest civic space in Europe – a place for start-up companies and the local community to come together and become the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
Alastair Parvin of 00:/ said it was an investment in cultural and economic infrastructure for east London. The plan is for a new civic space owned and operated in the community interest providing workshop and exhibition spaces, free workspaces, education and innovation accelerators.