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Strangeness in Limehouse

Part 2 Project 2021
Shirley Lo
University of Cambridge | UK
Limehouse, a neighbourhood in East London, is shaped by strange narratives. Books and films paint Limehouse as a place of occult churches, opium dens and criminal syndicates. Despite being tied to marginalised communities, ‘strange spaces’ are seductive and feared. This thesis argues that they have the power to challenge the dominant discourse.

A series of interventions form hidden spatial patterns around the neighbourhood. Their esoteric nature promotes local knowledge as a means of spatial ownership, in a context where land is commoditised and often deployed as a tool to marginalise those who are deemed Other.

An abandoned warehouse is reimagined as a base for a local immigrant sewing group. They look after the building’s public amenities and act as custodians on behalf of the local council. The building echoes Limehouse’s fictional realm in an uncanny way. Fiction is narrated both in its spatial arrangement, and through fabric fragments embedded within the space.
A film is written and produced as an integral part of the project, imagining the story of an immigrant woman who uncovers the secrets and esoteric knowledge embedded within the urban space. In the process, she becomes empowered by a sense of affiliation to her adopted neighbourhood.

Shirley Lo

James Pockson
Ingrid Schröder
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