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UK riots: tell us your stories

Last night violent disturbances spread out across London with rioters looting shops and setting fire to cars and buildings. Share your account of what happened

The AJ is keen to hear from architects and readers who were affected by outbreaks of public disorder which took place across streets of the capital’s boroughs over the past three days.

Was your business affected? Did you witness any architectural projects or regeneration schemes being damaged? Is there anyway architects can help with the recovery?

Please comment below or e-mail your account of events to

Readers' comments (9)

  • John Kellett

    The timing, location, organisation and use of youngsters suggests to me that terrorists might be at the root of the riots.
    Torched buildings were at crossroads and easily filmed, youngsters are more readily 'radicalised', timing ahead of the Olympics (before security tightens), targeting 'down at heel' areas etc.

    The current stupidity of the economic markets around the world could also be orchestrated by terrorist organisations. Selling shares in companies based in non-AAA rated countries in order to buy bonds in the very same non-AAA rated countries is at the very least bizarre.

    For rioters to destroy the streets that they live in would be stupid. Hence the suspicion of external influence.

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  • I think if you suspect 'external influence', then you don't live in one of the areas affected by rioting. I do, and I don't see anything except a lot of disadvantaged youngsters with time on their hands, who don't behave that well at the best of times.

    But I do agree it was stupid for them to destroy their own shops. Peckham has a bad reputation anyway, and this is setting back numerous regeneration efforts. By burning out independent shops (bizarrely, Greggs was also hit), the rioters will leave holes on the high street that won't be filled for some time. Who will want to risk - or can afford - to set up a shop in such a place?

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  • Christine Murray

    I live in Dalston, which was 'protected' by the local Turkish and Kurdish shopkeepers. I think the recent regeneration of the area wasn't really intended to improve the lives of the disaffected youth that are rioting, the local Turkish and Kurdish communities, or the inhabitants of the local council estates (although section 106s as part of new developments did result in new libraries and public spaces for the area). Regeneration is about getting the yuppies in, and driving the locals out. This kind of regeneration exacerbates, rather than narrows, the class divide. Agree that raiding shops is about poverty and consumerism, not politics.

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  • I've heard people say that the police were deliberately slow to stop the riots, and in some case provoked rioters, because the public would never support cuts to the policing budget while this sort of thing is happening. It's a pretty cynical idea though...

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  • I live in Clapham Junction where rioting on Monday night was severe. I was shocked to see gangs of young people looting and being violent. I also witnessed attempts at arson and stolen vehicles being driven recklessly at high speed. From what I saw there was greed but the greed was driven by desperation. It was like watching someone who hadn't eaten for a long time stuffing themself because they didn't know when the next meal would come. The simple fact is a lot of these young people have had educational opportunities taken away from them. They have no jobs and very little chance of getting a job. Some may even be denied this opportunity for their entire life.

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  • "Is there anyway architects can help with the recovery?"

    We could begin with acknowledging how dreadfully designed many of London's council estates were.

    There are a obvious design improvements (relating to public spaces, lighting, signage, access, materials, etc) that could be tackled straight away at relatively low cost.

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  • There's hundreds of thousands of poor people but they are not all rioting. This is less about society than it is about not being brought up with the right values from parents or guardians. If you don't riot or loot, you must have been brought up with certain good values irrespective of your wealth or environment.

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  • John Kellett

    I don't live in London, or any city for that matter. I live in part of the country that requires travelling some distance by car to reach any sort of 'cultural' facility be it a swimming pool, theatre, concert or shop. Public transport is not a viable option. In fact many have to commute many miles to get a job, I didn't work in the County for many years due to the lack of opportunity. We had no riots apart from small copycat outbreaks of violence in the larger towns (from city-dwellers shipped out to the countryside perhaps).
    Anyone living in a city has excellent access to any facility, it's nonsense to argue lack of access. I am sick and tired of less well-off city-dwellers moaning about how 'deprived' they are, the 'rural poor' are not a minority in many parts of the country but they are not rioting because the rioting has nothing to do with such issues. The riots are simply criminal and often orchestrated for political purposes.
    "Had educational opportunities taken away from them"? What on earth does that mean. London is littered with schools. If you choose not to learn you have only yourself to blame. If you're not intelligent enough to get to university no amount of 'education' will change that. Higher education is far more affordable now, the loan system is far fairer than a means tested 'grant'.
    It would appear from news reports that many of the early rioters were adults with jobs, hopefully they won't have a job to go back to. The children and unemployed and / or 'disaffected' youth ought not to be able to afford the Blackberries apparently used to organise the unrest anyway! Hence my earlier comment.
    Architects were never 'responsible' for poor public housing: the brief, the budget, quality of construction and the politics were and are far more responsible. For example, we can't design larger houses because the brief, budget and procurement paths don't permit it.
    I stand by my observation made earlier regarding the initial rioting, later looting was obviously opportunist.
    I'm fed up with apologists trying to justify the unjustifiable.
    Rant over.

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  • I was born, raised and live in Croydon

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