A documentary on young Londoners’ reactions to gentrification is part of a film trilogy by architect ft’work exploring the city’s invisible boundaries


Produced for the London Festival of Architecture, in response to its 2019 theme of ‘boundaries’, three films by non-profit organisation and architecture practice ft’work aim to give a voice to communities whose lives are directly shaped by the built environment, but whose views and experiences seldom reach the ears of those who create it.

“Social boundaries and divisions continue to have a destructive effect on the lives of Londoners”, says ft’work founder Clare Richards. “To address this requires local knowledge, long-term vision and on-going collaboration, which can only be achieved when authorities, politicians, investors and built environment professionals genuinely value and engage with London’s diverse communities and commit to addressing their needs.”


Top, above: ‘Regeneration Divide’ follows a route, chosen by a group of five close friends, round the partly redeveloped estate where they have grown up – Woodberry Down at Manor House.

The three films in the ‘Invisible Walls’ trilogy – each shot as a POV sequence using a steady-cam – explore various tangible and intangible boundary conditions that keep people confined or excluded within the city. ‘Postcode’ examines the postcode rivalries navigated by young people in areas where they are at risk of gang violence; ‘Without Walls asks ex-offenders about community-based women’s centres as an alternative to prison; ‘Regeneration Divide’ presents the renewal – or gentrification – of Woodberry Down in north London, from the point-of-view of young residents.

The films were directed by Clare Richards, produced by Harrison Sharkey and made in collaboration with charities and NGOs working in each of the fields explored: community organisation Oasis Waterloo (‘Postcode’), voluntary organisation Clean Break (‘Without Walls’) and Manor House Development Trust, with the help of Redmond Community Centre and The Edge, and in collaboration with Redmond Rovers (‘Regeneration Divide’).

Watch ‘Regeneration Divide’

“My mission has been to ensure that architects, developers and others in the built environment engage with the real world”, says Richards. “With ‘Invisible Walls’, the powerful medium of film gives a voice to social groups normally excluded from this conversation, yet whose experiences must be heard if London’s divisive social barriers are to be overcome.”