Monthly Archives

February 2019

UK high streets need cross sector collaboration and shared Vision developed with local community for better future

The House of Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee believe UK high streets and town centres can survive and prosper and their recommendations have been published in the “High streets and town centres in 2030″ report.

However, the report says that urgent action is required to stop the current deterioration, loss of visitors and dereliction that could lead to some high streets and town centres disappearing altogether.

The report recommends that there needs to be “a shift from the retail focused activities of high streets and town centres today to new uses and purposes which foster greater social interaction, community spirit and local identity and characteristics.”

Achieving large-scale structural change should focus on “convenience”, “place making” and creating an “experience” and will require cross-sector collaboration “with a strategic vision for the future developed in partnership with the local community”.

Change will need to be mainly led by the local authority, with the backing of local stakeholders and the wider community to redefine high streets and town centres and ensure their long-term sustainability.

To read the recommendations in full, the report can be found here:

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcomloc/1010/report-summary.html

Urban Design Group Event: Charrettes – best practice for 21st Century Placemaking

Urban Design Group Event

Charrettes – best practice for 21st Century Placemaking

Wednesday 06 March, 6:15pm to 8:30pm
JTP, Unit 5, The Rum Warehouse, Pennington Street, Wapping, E1W 2AP

Jane Jacobs famously wrote: “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” But how can communities most effectively participate in shaping the places they call home?

Chaired by Charles Campion, author of 20/20 Visions: Collaborative Planning & Placemaking this event will bring together four speakers highly experienced in Charrette and community engagement processes.

Evening programme:
6.15 Arrival
6.30 Welcome and introduction by Charles Campion, JTP
6.40 Individual presentations by panellists
7.30 Panel discussion & Q&A
8.00 Informal conversations and networking
8.30 Close

First conceived in the United States in the fifties and mainstreamed by the American Institute of Architects R/UDAT programme in the sixties, hundreds if not thousands of co-design Charrettes processes have subsequently been held around the world to bring communities genuinely into the heart of planning and placemaking. Despite the demonstrable benefits, there are still many architects and planners who lack the confidence and expertise to collaborate with the public effectively.

Considering these critical issues will be four speakers including Lynne Ceeney, Lytton Consulting; Nick Taylor, The Piece Hall, Halifax, and; Husam AlWaer, Senior Lecturer at University of Dundee.

For more information please visit: www.udg.org.uk/events/charrettes-best-practice-21st-century-placemaking

Auroville: A Way Forward Charrette

“An open and collaborative spirit prevailed during the workshops.  People commented that new voices were being heard.”

Auroville was founded in 1968 by the spiritual leader Mirra Alfassa, the Mother, outside Pondicherry, Southern India as a universal town where men and women of all countries could live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities.

Much progress has been made over the last 50 years, including the environmental restoration of the land, and more remains to be done to develop Auroville and raise the population up towards the 50,000 inhabitants originally envisioned.

Beginning on 7 January 2019, Auroville’s town planning and development research organisation l’Avenir and an international team led by Andreas von Zadow facilitated the “Auroville: A Way Forward” charrette to work out baselines for Auroville’s next decades and develop a Way Forward Strategy reflecting on:

  • Mother Mirra Alfassa’s vision and unlocking its potential
  • Fresh ideas for healthy and sustainable placemaking
  • Challenges of decision making within a unique self-governance concept
  • Capacity building at l‘Avenir to improve services and outputs

The charrette team included:
Von Zadow International
JTP
Dreiseitl Consulting
Eble Messerschmidt Partner

Charrette team member Clare San Martin from JTP tells the story below.

Auroville’s January co-design sessions were an opportunity for the community to consider the difficult issues that have stalled growth and development in recent years and to explore ideas for the way forward. I was privileged to participate as part of the international team facilitating workshops and presenting our work. Over the 7 days of the Charrette I got to know many inspirational people committed to realising the utopian dream of The Mother, the city’s founder.

Over 130 people attended the workshops with a dedicated core of around 60 people participating in all sessions and continuing to work with the visiting team right up to the final presentation, in the true spirit of a charrette.

Much has been achieved in the 50 years since Auroville’s founding. The Matrimandir, a huge, gold-clad meditation centre set in lush gardens, has been built at the centre of the planned city. Large areas of forest have been re-established to halt soil erosion and people have built their lives around a community centred, eco-friendly lifestyle with a focus on unending education. But Aurovillians complained of a growing lack of unity since the completion of the great project of the Matrimandir which bound them together with a common purpose.

Workshops focused on how to re-establish unity as well as; how to address the pressing issue of water shortage through landscape design; potentially re-casting the city plan to reflect more environmentally friendly building types; integrating small scale agriculture; developing education including links with international universities; developing a better tourism strategy, and; widening participation in planning, particularly amongst younger people. There was also much discussion about the need for Auroville to work more closely with the Tamil villages in the bioregion to jointly tackle issues such as water conservation, ground pollution and transport.

A major success of the sessions was consensus on a pilot project to create a shared recreational green space for Tamils and Aurovillians as well as addressing a number of other issues. A concept design developed during the ‘Hands on Planning’ co-design sessions demonstrated how an integrated approach could allow the Tamils to sustainably expand their village, incorporate water management and create a sustainable transport circuit using electric vehicles to benefit tourists and residents alike.

An open and collaborative spirit prevailed during the workshops.  People commented that new voices were being heard. Honest and sometimes uncomfortable discussions took place, which seemed to move towards unblocking the way to progress, but the issues are complex and only time will tell whether the seeds planted at the January sessions will take root and flourish. I will certainly keep in touch and be willing to follow up with advice if asked.