David McEwen

Mythologies of the City

Mythologies of the City is a visual exploration of the stories, fictions and histories that shape our experience of the urban – tales ignored or unaccounted for in discussions around planning and regeneration.

Centred around Elephant & Castle during a time of rapid transformation, the images that form part of this project represent a mythological junction between the lingering past of the Heygate Estate and the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre; a present characterised by demolition and the prospect of rapid urban development; and an explicitly neoliberal vision of a future London.

Through an exhibition on the Mythologies of the City, I propose we rally around the personal and collective stories that reject this future vision, seeking an alternative future for the city.

The exhibition shares these illustrations alongside documentary evidence, anecdotes, artefacts and personal reflections in order to create a rich ‘mythological world. These are positioned in contrast to the narrative of urban regeneration, displacement and gentrification – exemplified by the case of Elephant & Castle.


David McEwen is a designer and researcher. He is co-director of the architectural co-operative Unit 38, a practice committed to working closely with communities to envision alternative bottom-up models for urban development. Over the last 6 years, David has investigated the impact of regeneration on minorities communities throughout London, including the Latin American community in Elephant & Castle as a researcher at Cambridge University. Unit 38 are currently working alongside the community in Seven Sisters, Tottenham to save a celebrated Latin American Market and co-design a collective vision for the area after successfully challenging a regeneration scheme by a property developer. In October 2019, Unit 38 were invited to the United Nations in Geneva to present this ‘Wards Corner Community Plan’.

Unit 38