Mapify logo (© Voist Ltd)
Church Street, located just off the Edgware Road in London NW8, is about to undergo a large regeneration project. Westminster Council has put forward plans to redevelop the area over the next 10-15 years, which could herald changes to local housing and public areas. The locale is home to a number of international communities varying from Iraqi immigrants following the second Gulf War, to white working class families who have lived in the area for generations. The area is certainly diverse; whether it’s the numerous languages spoken or the mixture of commercial outlets ranging from fruit and veg market stalls, to the largest indoor antique market in London.

City of Westminster Church Street sign (© Voist Ltd)Voist was approached by the Church Street Futures Arts and Culture Group to gather more information on the local arts and cultural organisations working in the community. Voist proposed the Mapify Church Street project, an interactive map and visual illustration of the area to collect and display key information about local organisations. The Futures Group wished to be able to easily see the number of organisations operating in the neighbourhood and visualise each organisation’s collaborative network. There was also a requirement to be able to consider the ‘social capital’ that each group generates for the local area. The Mapify concept was partially inspired by the RSA’s 2010 Connected Communities report. The report shows findings from their action research programme that employs social network analysis as a means to understand, plan for, and foster the kind of communities that residents want to live in.

Westminster Church Street market (© Voist Ltd)
The Church Street market

The Connected Communities initiative involved producing social and organisational network maps of local areas constructed by surveying and interviewing local people. Their maps and research then informed bespoke community development strategies, directed towards regenerating neighbourhoods in inclusive, efficient, locally owned and embedded ways.The RSA report argues that the process of measuring networks and reflecting them back to communities is a valuable process and a relatively unexplored aspect of community regeneration.

Mapify aims to give local planners and Westminster Council a more detailed picture of the arts and cultural organisations work with and within the community so that they can incorporate what already benefits the area into future plans. Voist has begun to gather data from a number of organisations, map networks and illustrate the Mapify site with audio, video and photography – delivering vital data in an attractive and accessible manner.

To explore the Mapify project further, have a look at the website here.