Identity infrastructure : redefining London’s Grand Union Canal as a conduit for preservation, mobility, and community




Lake-Smith, Anna Joan

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This study examines the past, present, and future of London’s Grand Union Canal (the canal) as a critical piece of urban infrastructure. The canal is an inimitable force within the city, acting as both a conduit and a place. The advent of the modern canal in England fueled the Industrial Revolution, but by the 1970s, the Grand Union Canal was nearly forgotten. This study seeks to parse out the qualities of the canal that have allowed it to endure through time, and shifting agendas, and puts forth a design proposal that enhances and protects its character. As London faces the inescapable challenges of the 21st century, attention has turned to the canal as a potential tool. Once again, diverging parties are vying to use the canal to address the problems they deem most important. This study focuses on the political interest in returning freight transport to the canals, arguing that while feasible in some locations, the Grand Union Canal has much greater capacity to shape an equitable, verdant, and prosperous future for London.


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