If a Place can be described as relational, historical, or concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, historical, or concerned with identity will be a Non-Place.

Marc Auge

 

Throughout time cartography has allowed for the existence, through mapping, of Non-Place. From the mythical beasts of the Mappa Mundi, to the gold-rich Mountains of Kong. The power of these mapped Non-Places serves, through the romance of Otherness, to remind us of the paradoxes of life.

 

In our risk-averse, hyper-mapped world, we no longer allow for Non-Place. There is no attempt to make space for the Other. The authenticity of individuality, social differences, and uncertainty is rejected in favour of certainty and familiarity.

If through a deep sense of its unique anthropological Place, London’s Soho offers itself as a place for the marginalised, and dis-placed of society; is it a Place, or a Non-Place? 

 

Due to local planning initiatives, large scale infrastructure, and high-end housing developments the paradoxical nature of Soho is being gentrified into a landscape of deaf homogeneity. As land value rises, this haven for the displaced and marginalised is disappearing; being replaced with high-street shopfronts, landscaped vistas, and pedestrianised promenades. 

 

Sohotopia questions whether the architectural proposal, and the power of the map, has the ability to bring about a shift in attitudes to promote Otherness.

 

Can an architecture of blight be used to preserve Soho’s future?