Studio 13: Making in London

Studio outline

There is currently a happy alignment of reasons to celebrate and popularise manufacturing in London. It is all around us, can be a vibrant and joyful part of our cities, working at many scales, from vast industry down to cottage industry, and all of it integral to the daily life of us all. Here is the opportunity to shape a dissertation project around a fascination with making in London. Investigate a time period, material, product or place within the bounds of this topic and simultaneously contribute to the melting-pot of ideas which is Cass Cities.

Being optimistic (as is essential always), the increasing by-choice as well as by-necessity popularity of urban lifestyles in London is presenting a golden opportunity to craft new forms of civic, and to promote a refreshing of collective city shaping. 'Productive space' can refer to the shared (and voluntary) effort to purposefully evolve our urbanism to better suit the ways we choose to live (as well as the ways we suspect we need to live).

Cass Cities has just finished auditing the economy and civic use along Tottenham High Road. This is making another piece of the jigsaw that when complete will reveal the richness, and the disturbing vulnerability, of London’s economy. Other pieces have been coming forward well over the last couple of years, with superb work that we manage to rustle up by Gort Scott on the Tottenham, Walthamstow and Leyton industrial areas, and by We Made That on the industrial economy of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC)’s area. This year the Cass Cities MA group pulled off a spectacular audit of the Waltham Forest industrial economy. Your dissertation projects may be part of this fascinating picture. During the coming year we should be able to assemble a powerful and engaging argument about the difficult predicament London’s economy and civic life faces. We are facing a city-will-eat-itself crisis, and that we all must raise the alarm about. So, what we are doing is of huge significance.

We welcome students from every discipline at The Cass, the more diverse the better, since there are over 2000 manufacturers in London, making everything it is possible to imagine (and a few things it isn’t).

First seven weeks of study

Weeks 1-7: The first week will be a short and thrilling lecture by Mark Brearley, entitled Manufacturing comes to town, all about what making means to London, and the kind of things we make here, to give food for thought on the kind of dissertation topic you might choose. While you’re thinking about what you could investigate, we will do a whistle-stop tour of manufacturers around London and the following weeks contain several on-site visits, where we will see working processes, examine artefacts and talk to the makers themselves about where, what and how they do what they do. In between the visits, there will also be short, punchy and useful lectures and seminars by Jane Clossick on appropriate research techniques, the difference between primary and secondary research, how to collect primary data images and information for your dissertation, how to do secondary research, use the library resources, take notes, collate information and structure your dissertation.

Week 8 and onwards: In the early weeks we will have weekly tutorial sessions, in groups of three. You will be expected to attend a tutorial roughly once a month, and to collect information and produce short pieces of writing along the way for discussion. In particular you are expected to submit a topic outline, a topic commitment and a full draft on the appropriate dates, which will be shown on Weblearn. Later in there may be individual tutorials if we think you need them. We will provide written feedback for your full draft in February, but all other feedback will be given face-to-face in tutorials, so bring a notebook and pen, or dictaphone if you like. All communications will be via your university email address, so it is vital that you check this regularly so you don’t miss tutorial appointments.

The future: If it turns out that writing is your thing and you think a life in academia may be for you, this dissertation studio is great preparation for an MA by Project, focussed on issues around cities, urban and civic life.

Contact tutors: Mark Brearley or Jane Clossick

Reading list

This is just to get you started – read what interests you most, or read something else and bring it with you to talk about.

  1. Sherwod, James, The London Cut: Savile Row Bespoke Tailoring (Marsilio, 2007).
  2. Sennett, Richard, The Craftsman (Allan Lane, 2008).
  3. Osborne, Roger, Iron, Steam & Money: The Making of the Industrial Revolution (Pimlico, 2014).
  4. Pallasmaa, Juhani, The Thinking Hand (John Wiley & sons, 2009).
  5. Jacobs, Jane, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (Modern Library, 1993).
  6. Sandel, Michael J. What Money Can’t Buy (Penguin, 2012).
  7. Gehl, Jan, Life between Buildings (Island Press, 2011).
  8. Amin, Ash and Thrift, Nigel, Cities: Reimagining the Urban (Polity, 2012).


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