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Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture

Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture
Ben Campkin

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Between the slum clearances of the early twentieth century and debates about the post-Olympic city, the drive to 'regenerate' London has intensified. Yet today, with a focus on increasing land values, regeneration schemes purporting to foster diverse and creative new neighbourhoods typically displace precisely the qualities, activities and communities they claim to support. In Remaking London Ben Campkin provides a lucid and stimulating historical account of urban regeneration, exploring how decline and renewal have been imagined and realised at different scales. Focussing on present-day regeneration areas that have been key to the capital's modern identity, Campkin explores how these places have been stigmatised through identification with material degradation, and spatial and social disorder. Drawing on diverse sources - including journalism, photography, cinema, theatre, architectural design, advertising and television - he illuminates how ideas of decline drive urban change.

Richly illustrated and engagingly written, Remaking London is both a compelling account of contested sites from the capital's recent history and a powerful critique of the contradictions of contemporary regeneration.

Author Info

Ben Campkin is Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory and Senior Lecturer in Architectural History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture. He is co-editor of Dirt: New Geographies of Cleanliness and Contamination (I.B.Tauris, 2007, paperback 2012).


'[Ben Campkin] challenges crude mischaracterisations of so-called "sink" estates and neighbourhoods and the people who live in them, and takes a hard look at the counterproductive, top-down, plain bad attitudes that often lurk beneath the "regeneration" banner.'
Dave Hill, Guardian

'[Remaking London] opens up a raft of issues and is always worth listening to.'
Andrew Saint, Times Literary Supplement

'One of the most readable and accessible accounts of urban change I have ever encountered, offering a stimulating and richly-illustrated account which deserves to be read by those studying contemporary urban gentrification and regeneration as much as by planning and architectural historians.'
Phil Hubbard, Journal of Historical Geography

'Thoughtful and timely… an invaluable text'
Building Design

'...a skillful historical account of the intertwined aesthetic, moral, social, and political projects that have been pursued in the name of regeneration… a crucial intervention into contemporary debates about urbanism.'
LSE Review of Books

'Beautifully written, Remaking London provides a powerful critique of the contradictions of contemporary schemes, refreshingly ‘un-academic’ in tone, yet carefully researched.'
Urban Times

'...a beautifully crafted book'
The Geographical

'An important and much-needed corrective, full of fascinating insights, which exposes the myths of regeneration'
Anna Minton, author of Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the Twenty-First-Century City

'...a must-read for anyone interested in London’s urban development.'

‘a series of powerful and quite frankly gripping essays based on personal observation…the author’s passionate and intimate engagement with the urban realm is a clear reminder of one of the unique strengths that architects can bring to these discourses: detailed observations of the interconnections of ideologies, form and life.’
Thomas Deckker, Arq: Architectural Research Quarterly


Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture by Ben Campkin has won the 2015 Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Foundation Award. The jury was unanimous in its decision and applauded the work as:

‘…[A] methodologically sophisticated inquiry into the drive to “regenerate” areas of London seen as blighted or in decline. Surveying a diverse collection of texts ranging from individual buildings and temporary theater installations to photojournalistic essays and films, Campkin’s analysis of the cultural discourse surrounding urban decline and regeneration in the UK’s largest city is innovative, eye-opening and engaging. Given the intense debates occurring over the many regeneration schemes currently underway in the city, it is also extremely timely.’    

The Jane Jacobs Urban Communication Book Award recognizes excellence in addressing issues of urban communication and is named in honor of the late social activist and author of The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.
Series: International Library of Human Geography

ISBN: 9781780763088
Publication Date: 29 Jun 2013
Number of Pages: 224
Height: 234
Width: 156
Illustrations: 30 bw integrated

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