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The Unlimited Edition

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The Unlimited Edition is an urban research sampler, writes James Pallister

Throughout the south-east there are probably just as many people beavering away to Olympic deadlines as there are those in the rest of the country already heartily sick of the whole thing. For some, the Olympics are a mere blip – albeit an all-singing, all-dancing blip – in a continuum of study and work that takes the challenges offered by the Olympic boroughs as grist to their collective mills.

A series of publications from the young studio We Made That in association with High Street 2012, the funding quango for brushing up the arterial route between the City and Stratford, is now available in a natty binder to complete the set. The newsprint publications take the high street as their subject and are themed into ‘Survey’, ‘Speculation’ and ‘Proposition’. Topics covered include Muf’s work at Altab Ali Park, research by Gort Scott, and an intro by OPLC head of design, Eleanor Fawcett (declaration of interest: I contributed a piece to issue two on sticky-back ‘Shopjackets’, the ersatz frontages that act as placeholders for better days).

The collection is an interesting snapshot of people’s current research interests and proposals pinned to a small locale. Part of The Unlimited Edition’s schtick is that it’s given away free on Whitechapel High Street. It’s an easy means of distribution and in keeping with the local content of the mag, even if the of some of it wouldn’t seem the natural reading choice of many passing along Whitechapel.

Even the explanation of what High Street 2012 actually is: ‘Area-based initiatives… respond to specific spaces… coherent thread’ proves a hard work for those not down with Urbanism-speak. But, maybe that’s ungenerous: perhaps for every 10 of these publications shoved in the bin by baffled punters, one is enjoyed by an interested amateur, acting a little like the local history section of the Tower Hamlets freesheet, East End Life, albeit a more rarefied version, without the council house adverts and council messages in Urdu.

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