ENTRY #481

Inception by Álvaro Orbea, Bianca Ryseck, Isabel Gutierrez Sanchez, Nicole Hofert


Learning from our research in Haringey’s Seven Sisters market, we propose an inception of one market within another by abstracting and transplanting the social organisation of the popular market into Tottenham Hale Retail Park to activate the space with a network of social flows. Ethnic economic enclaves, manifested in markets, have always been a commons, although an often legally contested one. Their heterarchical systems of ownership and management defy the British notions of hierarchy. Located in urban peripheries, retail parks sacrifice space to big-box, functionally compartmentalised forms that are often out of character with their surrounding urban fabric.

In this scheme, the borough’s Council is an activist in gaining and reshaping privately owned, under-utilized commercial land and opening it back up to the city. Council acts as a mediator in the inaugural phase of a joint venture between the property owner and a Co-Operative of traders. Between the Co-Op and property owner, a lease is formed to negotiate the benefits, risks, and obligations. Initially, Council provides funds to the Co-Op, which are then redistributed amongst individual traders without the necessary funding for start-up costs. These are refunded as the trader makes surplus capital. The Co-Op repays Council in full over time to become a self-sufficient body.

This market is a process rather than end-design. Preserving room for traders’ values creates the flexibility needed to respond and adapt to urban flux. The proposal offers to sustain entrepreneurial opportunities for marginalised workers to exist in London; give agency to market traders to design and organise their space; and reweave private and public spaces to recharge the urban social fabric. This inception provides a commons for dialogue between various actors of the city: the corporate, small business owner, customer, and visitor.


We are a group of LSE MSc City Design and Social Science students who worked collectively through all phases of this proposal from the initial on-site ethnographic research to the final intervention strategy.

Álvaro Orbea graduated as a lawyer but has worked in urban research for the past years. He is interested in the imposition of public space under modern/colonial systems of power and its contestations.

Bianca Ryseck has an undergraduate degree in art history and is exploring the relationships between natural and social environments and the dialogue they create in physical space.

Isabel Gutierrez Sanchez is a trained architect and is exploring how the functions of social reproduction, that is, the social cares, are increasingly demanding a visible role in the public urban sphere, in a process that can be understood as a feminization of the contemporary city.

Nicole Hofert has an undergraduate degree in political science and is seeking a better understanding and exploration of how urban environments can be improved through the implementation of different social and business strategies.

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