MAPPING PRIVATE PUBLIC SPACES

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Places visited: Canary Wharf Complex, The Guildhal, Broadgate Centre.

Total Distance: 20.55 Km

Height difference: 389 m

When I visited the Occupy London campsite in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral for the first time, I was very happy to see that besides the kitchen, media, library and other key tents in this kind of spaces, there was a tent devoted exclusively for the exchange of information and informal debates, the Tent City University.

The first event I attended there was prof. Doreen Massey‘s talk about space, notions of ownership, privatization and struggle for economic and politic survival and freedom. I found the conversation very constructive, as it raised an awareness about the ownership of specific spaces of the city and how it impacts on our lives. Furthermore, it established a physical connection between the social injustices that have been attacked by social movements throughout the country and the places who host some of the most criticized companies and corporations. To me, it was the tangible materialization of the current political debates.

My first experience with limitations that spaces such as the Broadgate Centre and Canary Wharf promote in our lives was in 2009, when I was asked to leave the premisses of Broadgate West, in the City of London. I was taking pictures of a construction work that called my attention in Vandy Street and the security officer approached me, asking me to stop taking pictures, as I was in private land. I apologized, putted my camera away and started to make some notes about that big hole on the floor which simply fascinated me (as lots of Urban Surgeries do). Two minutes afterwards the same security came to me again and told me that the security manager was observing me through the cameras and gave him orders to ask me to leave. So I left the private place and went to a public space where I could still do my work, observing and taking notes. Detail: the public space was only a couple of meters away, just at the other side of the corridor, in Worship Street.

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