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London Made at Seoul Biennale

Film by Alice Masters, curated by We Made That

4 September 2017

London Made is a film installation currently on show at the first Seoul Biennale in Korea, 2 September - 5 November 2017. Showing the work that takes place behind the scenes at the Barbican, the film explores the challenges facing London's spaces of production.

London is being represented at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, which opened on 2 September, with London Made; a specially commissioned film installation exploring the challenges facing London’s spaces of production, as the city grows and deals with the increasing demand for new housing and the mechanics of keeping a city working.

London is well-established as a productive city. Making and manufacturing can be found in many different parts of the capital, reflecting a wide range of sectors from beer to bicycles, and fashion to furniture, playing a vital role in London’s economy. Combined with logistics and other light industrial ‘urban services’, these play a vital role in London’s economy, delivering the goods and services so essential for the capital to thrive.

While there is much to celebrate, London is rapidly losing space for production and industry. The need to house a growing population within a constrained city region and the resulting loss of industrial land is reducing the city’s capacity as a place of production.

Since 2001, 1,305 hectares of London’s industrial land has been lost to non-industrial uses. At the current rate, the 2031 target for release of industrial land will be reached this year.  As key businesses face uncertainty about how they fit into London’s future, it is more important than ever to defend London’s industrial places and spaces.

The film installation is oriented around a series of threads that lead out of the Barbican to uncover production activities and networks of supply that support and sustain the cultural venue. This exploration spans Greater London, uncovering layers of the supply chain, from raw materials to final-stage installation and display. As the city strives to achieve good growth that benefits its citizens, how can architects, urban designers, developers, planners and policy-makers sustain and support London’s strengths as a productive city? Through a series of interviews with industry professionals and the producers themselves, London Made draws on the city’s wealth of existing intelligence and expertise to explore what is being done, propositionally and strategically, to support London as a productive city in the future.

The installation, which is part of the British Council’s UK/Korea 2017–18  Season, is the product of a special partnership between the Mayor of London, the British Council, New London Architecture (NLA) and SEGRO. Architects and urban designers We Made That were commissioned to curate the exhibit that represents London at the Biennale as part of the Cities Exhibition; a selection of the most innovative public projects and initiatives from 50 cities around the world, with London showcased as one of two Guest Cities, alongside Vienna.

After its run in Seoul, London Made will return to its city of origin for a special screening at the Barbican later this year.