Supported by Open School East
Catallax Point was a research and social project to support resistance to developer-led transformation of urban space in East London, and to practically interrogate interrelating practices of community, locality and libertarianism.
The project began when I was accepted onto an associate artist programme in a community building close to where I live. I learned from policy documents that the council, the building's owner, has allocated it for redevelopment.
In response, I commissioned an architecture student to produce a fictional design for a new building for the site, expressing this allocation and the wider, current climate of urban planning. (The image below is an excerpt from these plans; they can be seen in full here.)
I planned a discussion event that could allow some of the very strong, active and experienced community groups in the area to deliberate what their collective role should be in determining the future of the building, with this new design as a starting point.
Before the event, a local newspaper covered it in a print and web article. The article drew the attention, skepticism, and hostility of local groups, councillors, activists, property developers, the associate artist programme directors, the building managers, a nearby free school, and others who attend the event. Many other groups and demographics in the area were not represented at the event, despite wide promotion of it.
Following the discussion event, the two most established and, arguably, representative community organisations in the area formed an action group autonomous from the project, and of the associate artist programme, to produce their own possible future for the site and, if necessary, a programme of action to make it more likely.
The action group considered submitting an application to register the building as an 'Asset of Community Value' - a special legal status that would give residents' groups six months to raise the funds required to buy the building in the event of it being sold by the local council, before it could be sold to any other organisation, including property developers.
To the best of my knowledge, the action group met only a few times and did not submit an application to register the building as an Asset of Community Value.
The most successful articulation of the project's purpose, at least for my part, is by the writer Chris Fite-Wassilak, published in Art Monthly October 2015. It is available to read in full here.