The Latin Quarter in London is unique
By Latin Elephant
The Latin Quarter: Elephant and Castle Community Vision, published by Latin Elephant is the first report that aim to reflect these discussions, in particular the perspective of the Latin American community, highlighting the main issues. It is underpinned by a spatial vision of the Latin American quarter, alongside a number of different strategies and projects which could be implemented together or separately in order to address the current needs of the community and look towards the future.
Participants discussed about the Latin American identity, how it is perceived in the community and outside of it, and how the sense of identity at the Elephant can be strengthened
Participants discussed about the Latin American identity, how it is perceived in the community and outside of it, and how the sense of identity at the Elephant can be strengthened.
Participants agreed that the Elephant has a strong identity which is recognised by Latin Americans, because the business community is well known in London and abroad as a ‘hub’. Its longstanding presence, the sense of inclusion and welcoming given to Latin American immigrants, catering to the community through food, specific products, services and cultural events have built a strong presence in the area. Participants referred to the
Latin American business community in this area as being adaptable, resilient and inclusive.
What doesn’t work
The business owners felt that whilst the Latin American identity is strong within the community, it does not appear as strong to outsiders. This is due to language barriers and to a tendency of being closed off or protective in order to avoid conflicts. Many of
the businesses are hidden, in the shopping centre or in the arches behind the Shopping Centre and Strata and there is no clear signage of what they are, what they offer and where they are from. Some participants felt that the appearance of the shops, together with the surrounding public space are not attractive, do not look inviting, and most importantly not representative of the community.
Participants agreed that there should be more emphasis on the visual identity, using art, design and decoration to signal the vibrancy of the Latin American culture on shop fronts and surrounding public space. They felt that the identity of the area as a Latin Quarter would be strengthened through physical links between the four clusters of businesses.
Bringing out cultural symbols such as traditional music and food would be a key aspect of consolidating the Latin identity of the area.