Michel Foucault's lecture, 'Of Other Spaces, Heterotopias' (1967), provided the backdrop for our discussion of how we might contemplate the contemporary city. His famous list of 'other' spaces includes asylums, brothels, cemeteries, carnivals, refuges, theatres and prisons. These create alternative readings of space that are networked, relational, cultural – somewhere between 'real space' and utopia. Foucault posed the question then of whether heterotopias might set up critical juxtapositions within urban and social contexts – against conformity and homogeneity. Today, Inter 13 asks: how do we build in our dense, diverse cities with this perception of space in mind?
Four compromised areas of London were explored in search of the 'other'. King's Cross, Paddington, the City and Southwark became sites of experience and scrutiny. Early observation and investigation provided the raw materials for heterotopic interventions grafted onto various found spaces. Hidden communities, alternative lifestyles and estrangement became the basis for larger propositions in London – to create spaces where 'other' aspects of society can be performed and represented. Projects explored the real and unreal, the ideal and the contingent, in order to 'contest and invert' as well as reflect all other sites of the city. Urban cultural communities are explored through refuges and retreats, such as Adora's Storytelling Space over a supermarket and Jin's Black Cab Club tucked into a carpark. Death and decay trouble Adelina's vertical Paupers' Necropolis, while Octave offers a transgressive cultural strip on the no man's land of the Thames riverbed. Conrad's subversive food recycling organisation and Shaelina's Urban Reclaimers' Gymnasium accommodate platforms for corporate irritants. Spatial transience and temporality are at the core of Tala's Museum of the Lost and Found over Paddington Station and of Faraz's 'Caravanserai' for the canal community of King's Cross. Eleanor's Working Men's Club and Raha's Theatre challenge the city's financial culture and lifestyle, while Xia's Garden of England, floating above the Bank of England, proposes another mode of production. Ambiguities of illusion and reality explored though Brian's Film School in Somerstown reframe the view of a depressed area.