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Istituto Universitario Architettura Venezia FacoltĂ di Architettura Laurea Magistrale in Architettura Indirizzo sostenibilitĂ  University of Strathclyde of Glasgow Urban Design Studies Unit

Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living The case study of Sighthill, Glasgow, UK


Studente Davide Consolati m. 270138 Relatore Prof. Francesco Musco - IUAV Correlatori Prof. Sergio Porta - University of Strathclyde Prof. Ombretta Romice - University of Strathclyde

“The planet would survive without humanity just fine, but humans cannot survive without the planet� (Giddings et al., 2002)



p. 12

1. Urban Regeneration 1.1 Origins of the Urban Regeneration 1.2 Main features of a urban regeneration project 1.3 Conclusions

p. 24

2. Historical background of planning in UK 2.1 The nature of Planning 2.2 The Thatcher years: urban policy under the Conservatives 2.3 The Scottish Housing situation 2.4 New Labour and the Urban Renaissance

p. 32

3. Glasgow: a city in translation 3.1 The case study of Glasgow 3.2 History of Glasgow 3.3 Glasgow between suburbs and highrise 3.4 Glasgow at the end of the 20th century 3.5 Glasgow today

p. 44

4. A new wave of Urbanism 4.1 NEW URBANISM - USA 4.2 Limits and criticism of New Urbanism 4.3 PLACE MAKING - UK 4.4 Limits and criticisms of Place Making

p. 52

5. The Urban Task Force 5.1 Methodology of the research 5.2 DESIGN EXCELLENCE 5.3 SOCIAL WELLBEING 5.4 ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY (and public realm) 5.5 DELIVERY, FISCAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK: 5.6 Summary of major positive/negative aspects of the urban regeneration in UK 5.7 Conclusions

p. 70

6. Following UTF advice 6.1 By design 6.2 Urban Design Compendium 6.3 Some further considerations 6.4 Introducing the project 6.5 The UK Housing Associations 6.6 Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) 6.7 Plot-Based Urbanism

p. 84

7. The project 7.1 Sighthill’s story 7.2 The area 7.3 The methodology 7.4 The analysis 7.5 The strategy 7.6 Street front analysis and coding 7.7 The Foundation Masterplan 7.8 The Masterplan

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Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

March 2012

Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living The case study of Sighthill, Glasgow, UK


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


My research has started almost a year and a half ago when I came to Glasgow for the very first time with the idea to study Architecture, as I did in my previous education courses. Nevertheless, after few days I changed my mind on Urban Design and I have suddenly started to be surrounded by maps, diagrams, analysis, models… Later, Urban Design has persuaded me to deeply study this subject because I have easily realized that Urban Design can be considered the main factor in sustainable level for any development plan of a city, a neighbourhood, a district... This work, which is finalized with the urban regeneration project of the social housing area of Sighthill, Glasgow, can be considered the consequence of this passage. The principal aim of this research is to make understandable for everybody what a regeneration project is. And, above all, that even an urban design project can and must be sustainable in many different ways. The common idea that sustainability is only building green-houses should be changed as soon as possible if we really want to reach equilibrium in our life and our planet’s life. Many efforts have already been done but there are many more to improve. What is a urban regeneration project? Why is it so important to speak about it? Which are the main features that a successful urban regeneration project should has? I have chosen Glasgow as my case study because the city has always showed a particular attitude to change during every its historical process; and “change” is the key word for regeneration. Even nowadays Glasgow preserves in its buildings, in its urban blocks, in its urban structure, the signs of the urban evolution since its origins. More general, I found that in United Kingdom regeneration projects have found a really rich soil to grow, especially in the last decades. UK still remains one of the best place to speak about it because, on one hand, governmental and local policies care about sustainable issues in urban design and, on the other hand, citizens are rapidly improving their consciousness of a sustainable life and a sustainable city.



If the Sighthill project can be considered the right conclusion of this research, the main part of the work is the analysis of the document Towards an Urban Renaissance (1999), published by the Urban Task Force. This document explains well how important and urgent a clear guidance in planning was. This was probably the first and main effort made by the new Government (Labour Party) to reverse the deep urban decline of the years before. Indeed it is a document which aims to underline, sustain and promote a new and sustainable urban renaissance. Many other documents later published have been also analyzed in this work , such as the Urban Design Compendium (English Partnership & Housing Corporation, 2000) and the manual By Design (CABE, 2000). Last but not least is the analysis of evolution of the planning process from the New Urbanism and Place Making to more recent movements such as the Plot-Based Urbanism which it can be considered in continuity with the already mentioned documents and movements. It has a particular importance for me because it has helped me to understand how to design a successful masterplan and make it real. Finally, importance has been also given to the social housing aspect and the Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) which recently (2003) it has become the owner of the majority of the social housing in Glasgow. It was from a conversation with one of its member that everything has started‌

October 2011


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living



The Urban Regeneration

1.1 Origins of the Urban Regeneration Urban Regeneration was born contemporary of the famous Bruntland’s Report: Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987. That document can be considered a milestone in the literature of world environmental policies. The report analyzed the global situation at the end of the second millennium, and for the very first time the “sustainable development” has been introduced to the world. [..] many present development trends leave increasing numbers of people poor and vulnerable, while at the same time degrading the environment. [..] a new development path was required, one that sustained human progress not just in a few pieces for a few years, but for the entire planet into the distant future. Thus ‘sustainable development’ becomes a goal not just for the ‘developing’ nations, but for industrial ones as well. (Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987)

In the Brundtland Report a wide part is occupied by the Urban Challenge. The document argued that the 20th century was the century of the ‘urban revolution’. In the 35 years since 1950, the number of people living in cities almost tripled, increasing by 1.25 billion. In the more developed regions, the urban population nearly doubled, from 447 million to 838 million. In the less developed world, it quadrupled, growing from 286 million to 1.14 billion. Over only 60 years, the developing world’s urban population increased tenfold, from around 100 million in 1920 to close to 1 billion in 1980 (Our Common Future, 1987). And projections of demographic growth, proposed more than 20 years ago, were correct: with the new century more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, from small towns to huge megacities. What I would like to focus here is how in the ‘80s the World Community has understood the problem related the urban development in the industrial world cities and which solutions have been proposed later. In ’80 the pressure of problems of deteriorating infrastructure, environmental degradation, inner-city decay, and neighbourhood collapse was clear and shared. It was also clear that social behaviour is strictly related to the places


The Urban Regeneration

of living and that lack of job opportunity and low level of education produce declining neighbourhoods. The unemployed, the elderly, and racial and ethnic minorities can remain trapped in a downward spiral of degradation and poverty. The awareness that a legacy of poorly designed and maintained public housing estates was not enough, it has started to grow. A new more citizen-centred process of development was required, according to the contemporary new wave of urbanism which has begun to grow in the ‘70s and ‘80s1. Given the importance of cities, special efforts, and safeguards are needed to ensure that the resources they demand are produced sustainably and that urban dwellers participate in decisions affecting their lives. Residential areas are likely to be more habitable if they are governed as individual neighbourhoods with direct local participation. To the extent that energy and other needs can be met on a local basis, both the city and surrounding areas will be better off. (WCED Public Hearing, 1986)

Although the Report admits that many industrial cities has already improved their services and conditions such as water quality, air pollution, general wastes, noise pollution… many urban problems, especially the inner cities decay linked with the economic decline, still remain unsolved. Even if the urban sprawl has never been mentioned in the Report, many elements can be related to this problem: it was clear that cities could not afford to continue to raise in size, but it was also clear that the global economy was increasing the world human activity almost everywhere, producing and forcing to a new kind of sprawl called “globalization”. The direct consequence of the globalization was the phenomenon of deindustrialization within the city centre. Many urban voids, abandoned and derelict areas have characterized the main industrial cities during the ’70 and ’80, while the cities suburb’s became wider2. From this scenario the Urban Regeneration has emerged later as the solution which can join the efforts of the battle against the urban sprawl and the necessity of a new way of planning more related to the territory and people whom live in. This process has required years of formulation of new theories, of urban experiments, of several urban surveys and so on. Nowadays, almost 30 years later the Brundtland Report, Urban Regeneration has evolved and it has become one of the main and more important action indispensable for promoting a successful urban renaissance. According to Musco’s definition of regeneration, a urban regeneration project should be: “an action of integrated policies (local and central power should work and collaborate together) promoted by a public institution supported by private developers (the private initiative involvement is crucial), which its aim is a holistic restoration of an area into the inner city with a long term view, promoting attentions for its environmental, economical and social aspects” (Musco, 2009).

1 New Urbanism and Place Making are two movements which are the main part of this new wave of urbanism. In the next chapter a description and analysis of them will be drawn. 2 The example of Glasgow as an industrial city which has faced with the deindustrialization will be shown in the next chapters


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

1.2 Main features of a urban regeneration project Urban Regeneration can be considered a wide transformation of an urban area which takes care of all aspects of living. It is slightly different from the Urban Renewal which has its origins in the typical “slum clearance” of the 19th century and it takes care only of physical demolitions and reconstructions of urban areas (Musco 2009). During the last years Urban Regeneration has changed and evolved as the whole Urban Design movement did. But some relevant aspects are still visible in each Urban Regeneration projects. 1) WHERE: By definition a regeneration project can be successful almost everywhere. However, the Place Making movement and its upshots suggest that each regeneration project should takes place on Brownfields and not on Greenfields. Recently Brownfields sites have been related to the inner city areas, especially in UK. The inner city is an area of the city located near the city centre characterized by a wide amount of derelict and abandoned lands. In the UK, it often coincides with the old industrial core of the city, developed after the Industrial Revolution. Promoting a regeneration project in the inner city has two main important consequences: it does not consume Greenfields but Brownfields, and it promotes the restoration of a central area of the city which can produces several positive influences to the whole city in terms of activities, facilities, new jobs opportunities and so on. Some of the best examples in UK of urban regeneration in the inner city are The Edge in Manchester, The Gorbals in Glasgow, The Greenwich Peninsula in London, Ropewalks in Liverpool.

Gorbals, Glasgow, 1965, from

However, the inner city location is not a condicio sine qua non. Recently, many other interesting urban regeneration projects took place in the old suburbs (see the several urban infill projects of Duany & Plater-Zyberk & Company). These kind of projects are called “suburban retrofit and infill”. With small interventions they try to convert a typical suburban area in an hybrid suburban area: addition 14

The Urban Regeneration

Diagram of a hypothetic suburban retrofit and infill scheme, diagram proposed by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, 2008

of new buildings in the existence network, resize of the blocks, new streets, less culs-de-sacs, mixed use land utilization, new services and facilities located on the main streets. However, the location aspect of a urban regeneration project introduces two other related issues: the enormous amount of Greenfields that we are consuming each year and the huge ecological footprint that our cities have. The overall carbon footprint for the City of London is 1,668,165 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2) per annum. The report presents this split in terms of residential and commercial footprints to aid comparison and assessment. The residential carbon footprint for the Square Mile is 2.67 tCO2 per resident. This figure is comparable, although higher than a number of the major UK cities (for example, the local authority areas of Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham). (City of London Corporation, 2009)

A survey of the 2002, by Wackernagel, shows that the ecological footprint of the Greater London, which covers 157.200 hectares, is 15.000.000 hectares. Ironically, we need other “94 Londons” of productive soil to balance the consumption of energy of Grater London! It means that the footprint of modern cities needs to be reduced as soon as possible. The Denmark Government has started this battle earlier than anyone else: in 1947 the plan for Copenhagen (the famous “Fingerplan”) has been approved. The idea was to force all the future urban developments and new consumptions

Fingerplan, Copenhagen, 1947, from


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

of Greenfield only in five corridor, which were strictly under control, well-planned and well-served by several facilities and an efficient mass-transit system. By the 1947 just two different uses for land were available: rural (non built) or urban (built), minimizing the waste of productive soils. From 1970s they have approved even more restricted anti-sprawl laws: the Agriculture Holding Act (followed by the Conservation of Nature Act, 1989, and the Environment Protection Act, 1989) is the most famous one and promoted agriculture instead of new urbanisation in Greenfields (Musco, 2009). Today, the economical and social growth of urban cities in Denmark seems to confirm the positive process they have done through the last century. Avoiding consuming other Greenfields is the first step to do for every Nation for reducing carbon footprints. 2) HOW: In UK the regeneration projects use to be implemented by an “area-based” approach. The process starts with the definition of the boundaries of the regeneration area. Then the design project interests the area within the boundaries. This process helps to focus on the needs for that part of the city. But it is not over, because following benefits will not be only for the area which would be regenerated but for the whole city. The purpose is to promote a urban regeneration in an area which will produce positive effects also on the surrounding areas (Musco, 2009). Also the Urban Design Compendium suggests to start the urban regeneration process defining the boundaries of the walkable catchment area to local facilities. According to the 400m/800m theory it is possible to define the pedestrian reachable area in 5/10 minutes3. Another fundamental aspect of a good regeneration project is the collaboration Urban Design between public and private sectors in urban regeneration projects. Often the Compendium, 2000 cities have to face the fact that many landowners leave well-located sites Walkable undeveloped in order to benefit later from their increasing value as the city grows. catchment area Many countries have already introduced special programmes to encourage public and private cooperation in the development of such lands. This is definitely a trend that should be promoted: governments should facilitate loans and credit to small entrepreneurs, building cooperatives, and neighbourhood improvement associations (Our Common Future, 1987). Regeneration project always needs a first intervention of the public sector, as well as initiatives from the private sector: [..] in absence of heavy public investment to underwrite the risk, the private sector appears to be pessimistic about the prospects of earning a profit from investments in the inner city…” (Donnison & Middleton, 1987). Urban Development Corporations4 have to use funds, to attract as much private 3 A wide overall view of 400m/800m theory will be drawn in the next chapters 4 Established under the Local Government Planning and Land Act 1980, urban development corporations (UDCs) have a broad remit to: _ secure the regeneration of a defined area achieved by bringing land and buildings into effective use _encourage the development of existing and new industry and commerce _create an attractive environment _ensure housing and social facilities are available to encourage people to live and work in the area. To achieve this, they have powers to compulsory purchase, planning powers and a general power to do anything necessary or expedient in the interests of their objectives. They have a limited lifespan of between seven and 10 years. More recently de-


The Urban Regeneration

investments as possible, they have to promote the right conditions to attract private investors to the area, and they have to make available publicly-owned land for development. The relationship between the central government and the local government is another fundamental aspect of each urban regeneration project. According to the Brundtland Report directives’ [..] the role of the central governments should be primarily to strengthen the capacity of local governments to find and carry through effective solutions to local urban problems and stimulate local opportunities. What is really important to underline is that every urban development cannot be based on standardized models. Development possibilities are different from city to city, and they must be assessed within the context of its own region. It becomes clear that what works in one city may be totally inappropriate in another. This is the main reason why a close, direct and efficient relationship between central and local is crucial. Only a strong local government can ensure that the needs, customs, urban forms, social priorities, and environmental conditions of the local area are reflected in local plans for urban development (Our Common Future, 1987). To sum up, the local government can provide a financial and technical support, while the local agencies can promote flexible and well-oriented circumstances aimed on the right needs of the area. 3) FOR WHOM? Community involvement in urban regeneration projects is an issue which has come quite recently to the attention of the urban policies. Place Making has got social aspects and community participation as priorities. With participation I mean the capacity of institutions to collaborate with the citizens during the design phase of a new planning area. Participation became popular at the end of the 1960s: Planner must be enable members of the public to take part in the planning process [..] (Town and Country Planning Act, 1968). The idea is to involve the population into planning process to address better solution for real and precise problems. Only citizens know what they really need and what they really want. Otherwise, the risk to face several community movements against the institution’s activity (NIMBY, NIABY, NIMD…5) is high. Reaching high levels of community involvement allows to shift from a Government control (which nowadays we find in our city) to a new Governance control. Obviously, Governance does not mean self-government of citizens but the real share of problems, solutions, initiatives, and co-operations between all actors (Musco, 2009). One the best example of a good level of community involvement is the Newbiggin Community Forum, in Newcastle, which has been set up in 1998 and it’s currently working. The forum has been set up on one of the largest council housing estate in England ever promoted and developed. The Forum aims to be a collective voice for improvements of social and economical life of the neighbourhood. It represents the whole community and its objective is the promotion of social/economical/environmental qualities of life in the estate. The Central Forum Committee (CFC) deals with three main institutions. clared UDCs encouraged to work in close partnership with council and community and other stakeholders. (Planning Advisor Service, 2009) 5 NIMBY = not in my backyard, NIABY = not in anyone’s backyard, NIMD = not in my district.


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

One is the City represented by city council, police, health authorities, employment services, parish council, Woolsington community… The second one is the Local Authorities such as the North West Partnership. The third one is the Neighbourhood represented by communities groups and local organisations. Some of the main outcomes reached by the CFC are summarized below:  Support new residents associations  Improve community safety  Promote suitable area for generating ideas  Improve investments in housing and open spaces  Establish a new sense of community  Provide optimism about the future development of the estate  Achieve credibility and formal authority Another good example of community involvement is the famous “Kvarterløft” program, 1996, Copenhagen, which has showed a high level of participation: the communities had wide powers in the decisions process through their forums and the city council has collaborated with communities as an operative and administrative support. The importance of the public opinion is well shown in the Brundtland Report which claimed that residential areas are likely to be more habitable if they are governed as individual neighbourhoods with direct local participation. Above these aspects, our cities need a clear system of institutions and authorities. Central government should prepare a legal background with laws and rights and show the guideline towards local authorities, which can study and analyze problematic areas, understand citizen and stakeholder’s wishes, choose alternatives, develop plans. An overall prospective will be drawn in the next chapters through what have been done in UK from the Urban Task Force (1999). 4) SUSTAINABILITY Form the Brundtland Report the term regeneration has started to keep the issue of sustainability in itself. Nowadays the whole world seems to have understood that the global environmental situation is critical and theory about the three circles Society-Economy-Environment is coming thrower.

Evolution of the diagram of sustainablity - Lombardi & Porter & Barber & Rogers, 2011


The Urban Regeneration

More recently, the heuristic of three nested rings (sometimes referred to as the Russian doll model) has been proposed (O’Riordan et al., 2001; cited in Dixon, 2006; Giddings et al., 2002), putting economy at the centre as a societal construct and the environment as the outermost ring providing the life services that enable the other two (Daily, 1997; Millennium Assessment, 2005). It has been argued necessary to remove the artificial separation between economy and society in the heuristic of three nested rings in recognition of the non-reciprocal nature of humanity’s dependence on the environment (Giddings et al., 2002): the planet would survive without humanity just fine, but humans cannot survive without the planet. Thus, human society (including its economic activities) can simply be categorised as such, with no further distinction required. Recognising this dependence leads to a more integrated approach to analysing sustainability dimensions and opens up the possibility for a fundamental examination of the nature of human society. (Lombardi & Porter & Barber & Rogers, 2011)

The theory that Economy is subordinated by the Society and Society is subordinated by the Environment is an interesting point of view but I think it is influenced by a more environmental-centred position. According to Musco, the urban regeneration project should be as the primitive theory of the three circles aimed: only the right balance between Economy, Society and Environment can reach a real Sustainable objective. Being more practical, a regeneration project should takes care of :  economical aspects such as defining house policies, promoting social housing projects, increasing inner city potentiality, attracting private entrepreneurs…  social aspects such as promoting a new sense of neighbourhood, promoting community activities, increasing rates of employment…  environmental aspects such as promoting greenhouses, preserving Greenfields, increasing green belts…(Musco, 2009) There is another important theme related to the diagrams explained above and it is the concept of resilience. The resilience is “the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance, undergo change and still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks” ( Today the concept of resilience seems to be connected with the duality between compact city and urban sprawl in terms of urban mobility (Newman, Beatley e Boyer 2009; Karlenzig, 2011). A high resilience city should be a compact city and a pedestrian friendly city, with a high mix of activities and opportunities, high levels of mass transits and where private car is discouraged. 5) LIMITS Every urban regeneration project produces a transformation. This transformation is tangible at several levels: in the building forms, in the new incomers, in the new neighbourhood society structure, in a new identity of the place. Often a real problem of Gentrification risks to emerge, which can be considered the main limit of big development plans. The terms Gentrification was coined by the sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964: One by one, many of the working class quarters of London have been invaded by middle classes, upper and lower. Shabby, modest mews and


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

cottages - two rooms up and two down - have been taken over, when their leases have expired, and have become elegant, expensive residences. Large Victorian houses, downgraded in an earlier or recent period – which were used as lodging houses or were otherwise in multiple occupation - have been upgraded once again. Nowadays, many of these houses are being subdivided into costly flats or “houselets” (in terms of the new real estate snob jargon). The current social status and value of such dwelling are frequently in inverse relation to their size, and in any case enormously inflated by comparison with previous levels in their neighbourhoods. Once this process of gentrification starts in a district, it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working class occupiers are displaced, and the whole social character of the district is changed. (Glass, 1964)

According to Rowland Atkinson & Gary Bridge’s book Gentrification in a global context: the new urban colonialism (2005) the main positive and negative impacts of the gentrifications are: POSITIVE

Stabilization of declining areas Increased property values Reduced vacancy rates Increased local fiscal revenues Encouragement and increased viability of further development Reduction of suburban sprawl

Increased social mix Rehabilitation of property both with and without state sponsorship

NEGATIVE Displacement through rent/price increases Secondary psychological costs of displacement Community resentment and conflict Loss of affordable housing Unsustainable speculative property Price increases Homelessness Greater take of local spending through lobbying/articulacy Commercial/industrial displacement Increased cost and changes to local services Displacement and housing demand pressures on surrounding poor areas Loss of social diversity (from socially disparate to rich ghettos) Under-occupancy and population loss to Greenfield areas

One tangible example of gentrification process seems to be the “Going for Growth” regeneration project adopted by Newcastle City Council which includes proposal for a large-scale redevelopment of low-income, low-demand housing neighbourhoods and the introduction of a more affluent population to these areas. This project, which is still in progress, is facing some problems of gentrification, but, with new redifferentiation policies, it tries to solve problems based on the model of Netherlands housing redifferentiation (Cameron, 2003). Nowadays, new Urban Design theories are trying to control and solve gentrification, promoting a high level of community involvement and designing urban spaces able to join within the same area a wide mixed community. The consequence of a real and sensible involvement of the population in planning decisions could limits the development of phenomenon of Gentrification. Public opinion has played a critical role in the drive to improve urban


The Urban Regeneration

conditions. In some cities, public pressure has triggered the abandonment of massive urban development projects, fostered residential schemes on a more human scale, countered indiscriminate demolition of existing buildings and historic districts, modified proposed urban highway construction, and led to transform of derelict plots into playgrounds. (Our Common Future: Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987)

1.3 Conclusions Regeneration projects, like any instrument in general, can works well or not according to the architects and urban designers who are going to start a process like that. In my opinion, what is really important today, is to understand that if now the technical process seems to be valid and available, often there is still a lack of skills in planners and local authorities who are substantially unaware of the whole potentialities that a regeneration project can have. This attitude could be caused by a lack in the history of planning that probably it as to be rescued. BOX1 – URBAN SEEDING: THE CASE FOR A DIFFERENT DISCIPLINE [..] Look around the new “urban jewels”; give a glance to glamorous architectural journals; listen to what is taught in the best schools of architecture. Generations after generations, we architects still perpetuate the gospel of conventional urbanism in a surreal childish game, where the higher the failure, the greater the honour. Our idea of designing cities is that you should do the job pretty much as if you were designing a building, but just a bit larger. Urban Design is still based on the scaling out of our architectural visions. Architects are very young professional figures: in past they were master builders, serving the community by doing the right thing as it had always been done before, which resulted in adopting, preserving and respecting the overall structure of spaces. Even when a different professional figure emerged in the Renaissance and got established in the XVIIIth century, that of the architect scientist, builder and historian who responded to the new needs associated with major specialist buildings, those prominent constructions were conceived as part of the broader urban fabric with which maintained and reinforced the spatial links. Then, architecture was entirely reconfigured, in a different and even opposite way. We should pay a lot of attention to this passage. This passage, at the beginning of the XXth century, is crucial, because architecture changed its status from being a practical art and an experimental science, in the age of the master-builders as much as in Palladio’s age, to being just a branch of the visual arts in the age of the avant-guards or, as Habraken calls it, the age of “Palladio’s children” (Habraken, 2005). It is at this point that the dimension of the extraordinary prevailed on the ordinary, which has always been by far the largest portion of our cities, without even the slightest awareness of that, and architects started doing a different job. But the problem is that, in John Habraken’s words, “the demands of the everyday environment are vastly different from what is required to create the extraordinary. Nevertheless, the profession’s self image, publications and ways of working still cling to its roots in monumental architecture” (Habraken, 2005, p. IX). The attitude to deal with the ordinary environments of our cities as if they where extraordinary exceptions is the cultural problem of architects-urbanists. This trap has substantially contributed during the XXth century to subvert the very fundamental “permanent” structures that have been driving the creation and development of our cities throughout time and space,


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

i.e. across history and geography. In parallel, the observation and study of ordinary spaces, i.e. measuring and understanding the form of everyday urban fabrics, developed as a separate discipline named “urban morphology� that is still today a specialism to a great extent detached from the mainstream of practice (Samuels, 1990). (Porta & Romice, 2010)

Plan Voisin, LeCorbusier, Paris, 1925 - Plan Voisin for Paris would have replaced the historical dense street pattern with towerblocks widley spaced in a park and connected by highways.

Following the topic proposed by Porta & Romice, the dissolution of the traditional urban gird made of blocks caused the proliferation of low density low rise garden cities and high density high rise tower in park. Moreover, the perimeter block had been cancelled, as well as services and shops aligned with street, and blocks started rapidly to increase in their size. (Porta & Romice, 2010). What Porta and Romice suggest is the fact that this new wave of architects and urban designers have completely lost the relationship between the building and the space, especially in terms of communities and environments, they have lost rules and rights, so far useful to control a correct development of our cities, they have deleted layers and layers of historical urban transformations. But the probably most problematic consequence was that the planning system lost entire centuries of theories. The tabula rasa which the Avant-guards suggested, has been applied. That deconstruction of the traditional urbanism was fine for the late modernists: they wanted to strut their stuff in chaos anyway. The rest of us knew that it was a tragedy based on uncivilized promises and clearly serving an evil rather than a desirable social end. (Vincent Scully Jr., 1991)


The Urban Regeneration

To conclude this section, I think that the main important effort that urban designers and architects should do is to return to the principles that has shaped compact cities during last centuries, rescue the qualities of the traditional way of planning cities; study, analyze and modernize it and try to develop coherent and comprehensive plans that can be as much sustainable as possible. Some good example have already been drawn, planned and designed; and organizations such as New Urbanism, Place Making and their offshoots, continuously help this research.

Map of the city centre of Glasgow: a good example of compact city, from google


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


Historical background of planning in UK

2.1 The nature of Planning The book Town and country planning in the UK (1964) by Barry Cullingworth and Vincent Nadin, can be considered a milestone in the literature of planning in UK. According to the authors, by definition, planning means: “regulation the development and use of land in the public interest”. Planning should have three main outcomes:  predicting the future changes  working with enormous variety of circumstances  mediating conflicts/collaborations between planning and development sector The core of the UK planning system and the decision process is the relationship between planners and developers. It is interesting to note that these two shapes are use to be in juxtaposition:


PLANNERS public sector


act for public interest


act slow act in the inner city act with long-term plans act with the general act on urban problematic situation


DEVELOPERS private sector act for own investment and profit act quickly act in Greenfield areas act with shot-term plans act with the particular not act on urban problematic situation

The first planning act in UK, edited in 1909 introduced a still valid definition of “Town planning”. The objective of the bill is to provide a domestic condition for the people in which their physical health, their moral, their character and their whole social



Historical background of planning in UK

condition can be improved by what we hope to secure in this bill. The bill aims in board outline at, and hopes to secure, the home healthy, the house beautiful, the town pleasant, the city dignified and the suburb salubrious. (Parliamentary Debates, 1908).

The need for a new planning system emerged because of the rapid and uncontrolled growth of suburban development. In fifteen years 500.000 acres of land have been abstracted from the agricultural domain for houses, factories, workshop and railways (Parliamentary Debates, 1908). At the beginning of the 19th century local authorities were permitted to prepare town schemes with the main objective to ensure better sanitary conditions. (Cullingworth, Nadine 1964). The system changed a bit during the Wars: schemes were made obligatory in cities having a population of 20.000 or more, new standard of working class housing was provided, subsidies and council house estates were introduced. Problems increased as the housing boom of the 1930s developed: 2.7 million houses were built in England and Wales between 1930 and 1940 (Cullingworth, Nadine 1964). At the beginning of the ‘40s, according to the Barlow Report6, the new Royal Commission on the Distribution of the Industrial Population decided that the development of the garden cities, satellite towns and trading estate would solve urban congestion problems. During the Wars, the Government decided to temporary solve the problem of the most depressed area of the whole UK building several military factories according to idea to produce a new powerful national asset. After the Wars large city and its urban hinterland (London, Lancashire, the Clyde Valley, the South Wales) were no longer to be allowed to continue their unchecked sprawl over the countryside. Suburban dormitories were a thing of the past (Cullingworth, Nadine 1964). With the 1947 Town and Planning Act almost all development were brought under control of the central government, through the new Ministry of Town and Country Planning (strong planning permissions were required). New powers were granted for preserving amenity, trees, historic buildings and ancient monuments. The concept of renewal slowly changed its meaning from house to house and street to the whole environment. Years of austerity have begun. With the return of the Conservative Government in 1951 the situation rapidly changed. By the 1953 the development charge was abolished and all building licensing was scrapped. Consequence was a both huge private housing and council house boom. This process produced new public housing estates and private suburban developed mushroomed. There was soon a concern that prewar patterns of urban growth were to be repeated (Cullingworth, Nadine 1964). While the population was growing faster than before, population projections pointed out that this process would continue in the ‘60s. A second generation of New Towns started to be planned and built7. In the 1960s, the social revolution helped the government to think about new policies for improving cities conditions. The government tried to solve the problem of urban decay and poverty renovating older buildings, encouraging individual improvements, increasing attention on the inner cities, promoting new development corporations. In these terms new acts have worked well. The Housing Act, 1969, promoted the creation of the GIAs (General Improvements AreaS), areas which provides good living conditions helped to reduce unfit 6 The Barlow Report has been published in January 1940 7 Between 1961 and 1971 fourrteen new New Towns were designed. Some examples of them are: Skelmersdale, Livingston, Irvine, Central Lancashire


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

properties. Five years later, the Housing Act, 1974, promoted the area-based approach, new policies of gradual renewal and the new HAAs (Housing Action AreaS)8. This list it demonstrates the almost frantic search for effective policies in field which had hitherto largely been left to local effort. Despite all this, the problems of the “inner cities” grew apace (Cullingworth, Nadine 1964).

Map of Skelmersdale, which was designated as a new town in 1961. from

2.2 The Thatcher years: urban policy under the Conservatives In the 1979, with the election of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government, the “Conservative Era” began. The urban policies dramatically shifted towards property-led regeneration utilising the Urban Development Corporations and Enterprise Zones to drive new investment. The principal idea was to boost the economy favouring the private initiative instead of the public one. Many large areas of public activity have been privatised, large parts of government have been hived off to executive agencies, and compulsory competitive tendering has been imposed on local government [..] more powers have been vested in central government and in its agencies (Cullingworth, Nadine 1964). Consequences have not been so good: 1980s are characterized by a deep decline of the industrial sector which has brought to an high level of unemployment and poverty. Many industries shut down and many other moved away from the city centre in search of newer and higher profits. This situation generated many vacant and derelict lands in the inner city. A decade later, in the same areas some interesting and successful regeneration projects would take place, one for all The Gorbals Regeneration Project in Glasgow. In its battle against the Labour party, the government shut down even the Grater London Council (1985) and replaced it with the London Planning Advisory Committee (Lpac). 8 Other programmes and offices were: Home Office (urban programme in 1968, community development programmes in 1974), the DoE (urban guidelines in 1972, area management trials in 1974, policy for the inner cities in 1997), Department of Education (educational priority areas in 1968), the DHSS (cycle od deprivation studies in 1973) from Town and Country Planning in Britain, Cullingworth, Nadine 1964


Historical background of planning in UK

The negative externalities of both laissez-faire planning and a-social regeneration approaches had forced the Conservative Government to introduce a more plan-led system to refuse development around existing urban centres. Attempts were made to develop a more plan-led system, to reinforce existing town centres and ‘contain’ the projected growth of households within existing settlements, particularly in the Conservative Shires of the South East. There were also initiatives to improve design quality and to promote urban design in planning practice. (Punter 2011)

At the end of the 1980s even the Iron lady and her government showed a sudden conversion to environmentalism. Mrs Thatcher personally defined Conservatives the guardians and trustees of the earth (Cullingworth, Nadine 1964). They promoted a new environmental protection legislation, new environmental regulation agencies, an integrated pollution control, new road building policies, and conservation policies for parks. In urban terms this new approach introduced several efforts, attempts, legislations, acts but not all of them have gained the prospected results. Here below there is a synthesis (Punter 2011, Cullingworth, Nadine 1964):  Local Government, Planning and Land Act (1980) It focused its attention on regeneration areas and it produced the UDC, the Urban Development Corporations (one of them has promoted the London Docklands Regeneration Project).  National Heritage Act (1983) It established a new executive agency, the English Heritage which took over many of the functions previously housed within the DoE.  The Estate Action (1985) It was the first government programme to renewal local authority housing estate. It has given very depressing results.  Inner Task Force (1986-1987) It was an institution between the central government and the citizen. It generated 16 new projects to increase interests in the inner cities.  The Housing Action Trust (HATs) (1987). It declared its objectives to secure more diverse tenure involving private and voluntary housing agencies and improving economic and social conditions.  Local Government and Housing Act (1989) The previous GIAs and HAAs have been merged in the new RAs (Renewal Areas). Powers shifted to local authority support to renovate the exteriors of blocks of houses. The new idea was to add at the housing renewal an economic and social regeneration fighting with the increased level of poverty. Even if the direction was good the budget available was not enough to produce very good results: in Birmingham (1993) more than 8.000 applicants for grants was something unexpected also for the government.  City Challenge (1991) It was a regeneration funding budget which promoted the Single Regeneration Budget in the 1994  English Partnership (1993) It tried to fund the gap between the costs of undertaking development and the end value  Housing, Grants, Construction and regeneration Act (1996)


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

Local authorities received grants directly from the government. This financial assistance has been followed by another two important decisions: an extra budget of grants for disable people and a real and tangible help for people displaced to buy a house in the same local area. All these policies demonstrated that it was extremely difficult to use physical interventions and legal directives for achieving social and economical goals. However it seems clear that the decisional process slowly shifted from the central power to the local institutions, from the private to the public, from the economical profit to the citizen benefits. 2.3 The Scottish Housing situation Scotland has always showed an important difference from the rest of UK: housing owned by public authorities was higher, dwellings tended to be smaller and rents were lower. This background produced a low demand for private housing in contraposition with a high demand for council housing. Massive public house building programmes have been led by big public sector institutions in the second half of the 20th century: GCC (Glasgow City Council) rapidly became the largest public sector landlord of Scotland. However, between 1979 and 1997 aims of the Government were to reduce the public housing sector and reinforce the relationship between National Office and Local Authorities. By the 1988 the Scottish Homes (SH) has been established, promoting a cooperation with the local government. Later, SH has been followed by the Housing Action Areas (HAAs): both tried to promote more rehabilitation urban project rather than clearance urban project. The idea was to produce a much clearly and integrated housing neighbourhood renewal policy, which covers housing and planning issues together (Cullingworth, Nadine 1964). The example of regeneration project of The Gorbals, Glasgow, ‘90s, which it will be described in the next chapters, represents one of the best outcomes of the ideal process problems-solutions promoted by the Council. 2.4 New Labour and the Urban Renaissance In 1997, Tony Blair and the Labour Party came to power. Their aims were to promote several public policies with notion of social justice and the creation of a real sense of community towards actions of social inclusion, neighbourhood renewal and community involvement. They also merged in their initiatives social policies of the Conservatives with a strong reduction in welfare dependence. Here below there are the five main principles of the new government:  New multi-dimensional approach to citizen and community needs: they have modernized the local government and they have reinvigorated local democracy because they wanted to stimulate a more dynamic local leadership and a more extensive public consultation.  New regional planning dimension: they have promoted regional planning guidance with a “bottom-up” involvement of local governance and regional stakeholders. They have promoted a more comprehensive and integrated spatial strategy.  New Urban Renaissance’ policies: they have promote a physical 28

Historical background of planning in UK

regeneration of the cities, a new urban vitality, social mix and a sense of community to accommodate more affluent residents into the inner cities.  New role of the neighbourhood: it has become the foundational principle of urban regeneration to fight anti-social behaviour ad poor housing conditions. The Social Exclusion Unit (1997) has prevented and it has struggled socially and the New Deal for Communities (1998) has promoted bottom-up initiatives to neighbourhood regeneration.  New awareness of Gentrification’ problems: they have countered social exclusion and they have regenerated the most deprived neighbourhoods as well as to significantly improve council (public) housing conditions. The result was a decade full of frequent changes in ministers, programmes, initiatives, agencies. The Guardian critically described it as a period of frenzied press releases and policy announcements, frequent re-packaging of policies and the presentation of existing funding streams as new resources. Within this huge variety of proposals, the document Towards an Urban Renaissance (Urban Task Force, 1999) emerged as one of the most important urban programme of the recent UK history. The Urban Task Force was a long term programme to guide UK in urban design. With The Urban Design Towards an Urban Compendium (English Partnership and housing Corporation, 2000), both have Renaissance (Urban inaugurated a new page of urbanism in UK. Task Force, 1999) From the 1999 the Urban Task Force has worked well for more than 10 years. With the financial crisis of the 2009, the new Conservative-Liberal coalition has moved to dismantle many renaissance policies and programmes with swingeing cuts in public expenditure9. These restrictions undermined many previous initiatives and one of them seems to be also the Urban Task Force, which recently lost its powers. Nevertheless, today there is a huge opportunity for UK and it is the Olympic Games of London 2012. In these years of cuts and reduced investment in public realm and housing projects, a massive and international event as the Olympic Games are, it means additional funds and opportunities to promote a Urban Design Com- clear and coherent action of planning.

pendium 1 (English Partnership and housing Corporation, 2000)

Olympic Games London 2012, Official logo 9 Public expenditure cuts hit the Communities and Local Government Department (74% cuts in its capital budget). Major reductions in funding have been approved for Homes and Community Agencies and for the social housing programme The Housing Market Renewal programme has been dismantled. Housing benefits have been reduced for the London commuter belt. Even today CABE ad Design for London risk to be cancelled as a consequence of the expenditure cuts. (from Urban Design and the English Urban Renaissance 199-2009, Punter J., 2011)


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

CABE10 is playing an important role in [..] advise the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) on the quality, sustainability and legacy of London 2012 proposals. It provides independent design advice on major projects in the 500-acre park to ensure that they are well-designed for use during the Games and it will provide a lasting legacy of high-quality, inclusive and sustainable buildings and public spaces. (CABE Archive, 2011) Nowadays it seems indubitable that the planning system has shifted from an answer to needs of city to an action for market (Cullingworth, Nadine 1964). The promotion of new urban developments is guided not by demand but by profit and investment. It implies that planning has to embrace the agents of the market, and to adapt a regulatory system of planning to the need for negotiation. (Cullingworth, Nadine 1964)

With this new trend, urban decisions have to cope with the interests of the main protagonist of the global economy and the market. In my opinion, form this quite recent point of view the Olympic Games can be a perfect opportunity which can make interests both for investors and citizens: it is a huge marketing operation but it could also represent a good sums of efforts, in terms of urban design, that can help to continue the urban renaissance started almost fifteen years ago.

10 CABE stands for Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. From 1999-2011, CABE was the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space. Since it origins, CABE has design reviewed over 3,000 of the most significant development proposals to come forward during something of a period of architectural renaissance in England. Local authorities and others have had the courage to back bold commissions that include the Manchester Civil Justice Centre, the Barbara Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, the Collection in Lincoln, the Chipping Norton Sports Centre and the remodelling of St Martin in the Fields, London. In each case they have done this with independent advice from CABE. Eighty five per cent of local authorities have chosen to use CABE’s design review service, valuing in particular the specialist expertise, and 70 per cent then took planning decisions in accordance with that advice. Eighty one per cent of the people that have used design review said that they find it useful. Design review has also represented excellent value. Each review costs £2,430 on average – a tiny fraction of the overall construction costs on a project. (CABE Archive, 2011)


Historical background of planning in UK

Main Olympic and Paralympic Games 80,000-seat venue in east London’s Olympic Park, which will be converted to a 25,000 seat athletics stadium in legacy. Designed by HOK Sport. (from


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living



Glasgow: a city in translation

3.1 The case study of Glasgow Glasgow is an extraordinary example of a city which in its quite short history has already faced many different phases of growth and decline. Glasgow has shown an interesting skill to preserve within its buildings, streets and urban blocks the signs of the urban historical process. The city has got also a great experience in urban policies and practices: due to the strong expansion during the Georgian and Victorian age, Glasgow has been made by large use of planning tools prescribing performance standards in order to control the form of the urban fabric, through those we can define as ‘urban codes’. From the actions of the surveyors in the 18th century which have promote the expansion of the city with the famous grid system to the main modern urban schemes of the Place Making which have shaped areas of the city like The Gorbals, Glasgow has developed a great background in planning. Although Glasgow has been defined a city of disjunctions rather than conjunctions11, it has also been able to produce unify and cohesion upon the disparate elements of the city towards the clever use of its famous house typology: the tenement. (Reed, 1993) Today it is still important to learn form the experience of Glasgow especially because recent trends in sustainable planning are boosting for a more compact city, well linked and connected to the others to minimize the consumption of Greenfields, to reduce carbon emission, to contain expenditure investments, to fight the urban sprawl. The 18th-century city, which Glasgow is a great example, constitutes an expression of the model of city linked to public transports and walking movements, which has anticipated this recent wish in urban planning. Organized through a coherent street hierarchy and the distribution of buidings density derived from it, the compact city focused on the definition of the relationship between private and public space, and it reflected the awareness of the role of ordinary building in the urban fabric. Today Glasgow is a rich soil for anyone who wants to study and understand how planning system has evolved through the centuries and what a real good action of planning can do today. But for doing that, we need to turn our gaze to the examples from the past. 11 “ [..] a disjointed aggregation of distinct district” (George Blake, 1930s)


Glasgow: a city in translation

3.2 History of Glasgow It is not my aim to provide here wide information about the history of Glasgow but I just want to point out the main phases and changes that the city has faced. The urban history of Glasgow can summarized in five phases: 1. The origins and the Middle Age Glasgow foundation is detectable in two separate nuclei, one linked to the monastery on the banks of the Molendinar Burn the other consisting in a salmon-fisher village on the river Clyde banks, both formed in the sixth-century12 (House, 1965).

Map of Glasgow, 1547 - Mitchell Library, Glasgow Collection

Glasgow began to have two centres: a religious one up to North and a commercial one down near the river. The nuclei were connected by the formation of the first street of Glasgow: High Street. Form Glasgow Cross there were other two streets, one going east (Gallowgate) and one going west (Trongate). Medieval Glasgow could be described as a burgh whose feudal superior was the Bishop: hence the nomination ‘Burgh of Barony’. In 1136 King David I of Scotland established Glasgow as a distinctive burgh with specific trading privileges, notably the right to hold a weekly market. The demographic growth was slow: by the 1450 the population was only around 2000. However, the power of the merchants grew during the 15th century. Glasgow capitalized on its new maritime links and by the mid 1600s tobacco was being imported, laying a solid foundation for commercial affluence. By 1689 Glasgow become the Merchant City. The population had risen to 4000 by 1550 and 7000 by 1600, but Glasgow was still a small city shaped around the historical nucleon near the river.

12 AD 543, when the first industry was brewing and distilling by the monks


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

2. The Industrial revolution During the 18th century started the Industrial Revolution. By 1760 a combination of costs, convenience and shrewd commercial management allowed Glasgow to become emphatically the main tobacco port of the United Kingdom. From then on, political stability helped to create the context for further economic expansion, making the city as a regional attractive centre. New infrastructures have been realized: in 1770 Clyde became more navigable and in 1842 the railway inter-city service was inaugurated. Industry and commerce attracted new workers from the rest of Scotland and Ireland. Rapidly the population started to grow: in 1791 Glasgow’s population was 66.000.13 The fast growth of population made the Merchant city near to collapse. The historical city of Glasgow shown an urgent need to be implemented. The end of the 18th century shown two main tendencies: one was the tendency for the wealthy to move into peripheral districts, especially to the west, and the other was the efforts to deal with the demographic boom buildings rows of poor-quality tenements14. However, census of the 1841 revealed a population increase of some 33000 people in the year, but only 3500 additional dwellings (Maver, 2000).

Map of Glasgow, 1783 - Mitchell Library, Glasgow Collection

13 It represents one of the fasted urban growth rates in the UK (Maver, 2000) 14 Speculative actions started: tenements owners were anxious to maximise their profits by renting out as many individual units as possible, which further encouraged the cramming process in the central districts. The profit motive even applied to the former houses of the mercantile elite, which were divided into multi-occupancy dwellings, serving numerous families and thus helping to meet insatiable demand.


Glasgow: a city in translation

3. The Barry’s Plan: the first New Town While the uncontrolled nature of building in Glasgow contributed substantially to the rapid deterioration of the inner city during the first half of the century, there was a qualitatively different dimension to speculative developments taking place in the outlying districts. By the 1780 there was the first boom in the middle-class property construction, when a “new town” began to be shaped in the streets surrounding George Square. The new and revolutionary rectangular grid system was promoted by James Barry according to the plot feuing system: [..] a regular plan to the line of streets in which every purchaser was bound to keep (Denholm 1804). The land occupied by the new plan covered the area from George Square to the Glasgow Cross. But in Barry’s plan there was the clear idea that the grid could be enlarged on the other side of the river. In Barry’s map is already evident that the rectilinear field pattern south of the river and west of the old bridge-end village of Gorbals might readily adapt to a new street grid (Reed, 1993). Although the new plan, the population was continuously increasing: by the 1821 Glasgow had become Scotland’s main population centre with the number of resident around 150.000 (Maver, 2000).

Area of the first new town, map of Glasgow, 1872 - Harper

4. The Blythswood’s plan: the second new Town 9 August 1792 authority being given to the lord provost and magistrates to employ Mr Craig, architect in Edinburgh, to make a plan of the ground of Meadowflatt for building ground, as Mr Craig is employed by Colonel Campbell of Blythswood to make a plan of his building ground in the neighbourhood of Meadowflatt [..] (Council Act Book, 1793). The first feus taken up in the early 1800s, and feuing continued into Victorian times. An elongation in the proportions of grid blocks producing principals residential streets and parallel service lanes running in an east-west direction hints at where the gentler contours might lie, while the open-endedness of the street matrix, so distinct from the generally closed geometry of the First New Town, predicates the role of attenuated if not infinite urban perspective out into skyscape or countryside. (Walker, 1993)


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

The new squared grid proposed by Blythswood can be summarized in three main features:  The planned right-angled intersection of streets  The consequence that planned extensions of the city fabric have to be geometrically and integrated with the existing system  The addition of point of view, T-junction locations for important buildings (public or civic significance) Practical justifications for the grid are its ease of geodesic application – with its regular equal measures the open grid is easy to plot; its ability to maximize the density of building plots – it treats the land in strictly functional and economical manner; its allowance for indeterminate incremental growth – to such an extent that it can ensure the appearance of a complete village, however small, and of a compact regular town, however enlarged (R. Rennie, quoted in Dunbar, 1966, 248). The grid’s regularity and repetitiveness, its equal measures, its absence of hierarchical space reflect a socially unpretentious, democratic community. Grid plots have been covered by three storey and basement terrace houses, which facades have been designed in the rigorous Georgian style. In the northern area of the plan some detached mansion houses have been designed probably because of the more rural, more elevated and less directly integrated with the earlier New Town area (Walker, 1993). At the end of the 1840 the planned city of Glasgow covered substantially the same ground as that contained within the built and projected encirclement of today’s Inner Ring motorway (designed in the 1960s).

Area of the second new town, map of Glasgow, 1872 - Harper

5. The Victorian Age Undoubtedly Glasgow has reached its zenith in the Victorian Age. Nineteenth-century Glasgow was, by and large, uniformly constructed in sandstone and – outside the lofty extravagances of the central business district – to a prevailing height of three or four storeys. It was pervaded by a single building type – the tenement – which, lining major thoroughfares, gave the piecemeal, fragmented development of the city a signal consistency and connectedness. Behind these regular frontages lay the neighbourhoods of varying character, from street-bound tenemental quarters to leafy enclaves of terraces and villas. (Reed, 1993)


Glasgow: a city in translation

The City of Glasgow, 1872, A Fullarton (from

By the middle of the 19th century bourgeoisie, middle class, and lower class were facing different problems. The attractions of the greener suburbs were prompting the bourgeoisie to escape from the chaotic city centre of Glasgow. Most of the population growth of Glasgow, in the years of its industrial awakening, was accommodated in incrementally expanding grids on the east, south and west sides of the city. In 1830 Pollokshields was developed (South Woodside), in 1841, with the new Great Western Road, Hillhead and Partick began to alter their rural character (West End). In the 1850s Dennistoun and Anderson (East End) were promoted to retain middle class and working class. New estates were usually planned for terrace house and villas. This process produced a compensatory increase in the density of developments in the city centre urban blocks, which became suitable for the middle class. By then, tenements where being raised. In the earlier part of the century the occupation of a flat in a tenement was a clear sign of inferior social and economic position, but as the century advanced it became more and more respectable, although the middle classes tended to live in three-storey and the working classes in fourstorey tenements. Tenements were put to all kinds of Springburn Road from the corner of Keppochhill use, multiple as well as single, so demonstrating the Road and Flemington Street, 1956. This view flexibility of the type, intrinsic to its street-bound nature. shows typical Glasgow tenement flats. With the gathering pace of industrialization, the From Strathclyde’s Glasgow Digital Library gridded new towns north of the river were successively taken over by the commerce of the city, while the new towns to the south – Hutcheson Town, Laurieston and Tradeston – entered their long decline into


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

infamous squalor. What made Glasgow’s public health problems exceptional was the concentration of poor and unwholesome housing in a precise area corresponding with the former medieval Old Town of the city, later Merchant City. Until legislation was enacted in 1866, over 50,000 people lived in the overcrowded and insanitary tenements of an Old Town of about eighty-eight acres (Reed, 1993). In 1866 Gairdner and the city architect John Carrick had the task of formulating proposals for the reform of Glasgow’s insanitary centre. With new Acts and several projects of slum clearance Glasgow received many advantages, not least the possibility to lay out an entirely new street system within the older areas.15 Street construction led to the removal of large areas of slum property and permitted the subdivision of an insanitary urban environment into manageable blocks. Streets also provided a largely rectangular grid of light, space and air to be imposed upon the slums, to the obvious benefit of public health (Tarn 1973). The process that Carrick led in Glasgow, is a smaller example of what almost contemporary was happening in Paris under the guide of Georges Eugène Haussmann (1853-1870). At the beginning of the 20th century, and at the end of the Victorian Age, Glasgow, with over one million of inhabitants was the sixth most populous city in Europe after London, Paris, Berlin, Wien and St. Petersburg.

A tenemental city: aerial view from Port Dundas westwards, 1937 - Mitchell Library Archive

15 In total some thirty-nine new street were to be built, later extended to forty-four and about a dozen others widened or extended.


Glasgow: a city in translation

3.3 Glasgow between suburbs and highrise With the second half of the 20th century Glasgow started its decline. During the past 70 years, Glasgow has experienced a considerable decline in its population. In recent years, the Council has taken action to reverse this decline. Recent statistics/data show that this has been successful (Glasgow city council, 2006). However, at the beginning of the century Glasgow annexed thousands acres for the construction several residential development such as Carntyne and Riddrie (East), Knightswood and Scotctoun (West). To these green fields, Glasgow (and urban Scotland in general) decanted its population in several phases, only the first of which (c. 1919-25) constructed buildings of real Aerial photograph of the Gorbals and Hutchquality. A considerable amount of latitude is permitted to esontown areas of Glasgow during redevelopthe landowner in the matter of zoning, and the initiative ment in 1961 - Glasgow City Archives, Departin the development is left to the proprietor in the first ment of Architectural and Civic Design instance (Corporation of Glasgow. 1938). The 1917 Royal Commission presupposed that existing buildings forms – particularly the overcrowded and poorly-maintained tenements – were responsible for infectious disease and, by analogy, for antisocial behaviour, crime and the destruction of the human spirit. This idea was almost certainly influenced by the Garden City Movement which had first impinged on Scotland in Rosyth from 1909, and in the Homesteads community by Stirling. The results of this attitude was the proliferation of suburbs and a huge action of urban sprawl. Most of them were just dormitories because they were too isolated from the city centre. In 1918, even the Ministry of Reconstruction banned tenements developments in favour of new Garden Cities. Between the Wars, Glasgow, and Britain as a whole, faced a housing crisis of an unimaginable scale and the government was under immense pressure to provide new and adequate housing following war damage of the 19th century stock. After WWII, to help alleviate the pressure of housing shortage, Glasgow embarked on a bolder and wider scaled programme of population decentralisation (Paul, Romice 2010). Contemporary, the older industrial areas within and without Glasgow were largely left alone, with the exception of a new head office here, some minor plant addition there, or the occasional welfare and amenities building, such as the exemplary addition to Weir’s of Chathcart. The largely consumer-based factories that were born into the new industrial estates were regarded with scorn by the heavy engineers (McKean, 1984).

Red Road, Glasgow 1960s Mitchell Library Archive


The suburbanization of Glasgow continued until 1950s. After the 1950s “baby-boom” Glasgow reached the highest population the city has ever had. But suburbs were almost full and there were not other acres of empty lands available in the periphery of Glasgow. The Corporation Housing Convenor, like many other British institutions did, adopted a new housing typology: the highrise. In the ‘60s Glasgow has started a huge policy of slum clearance: many quarters of tenement blocks (like The

Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

Gorbals ) and areas of Brownfield (like Sighthill) were cleared and they were replaced by highrise. One of them, the Red Road Estate became the Europe’s tallest residential development. By the 1969 the city was home to more than 150 towers (Jephcott, 1971). The beginning of the “highrise era” it has been a planned decision from the State, which has tired to promote this new typology with incentives and subsidies, supported by the new modernist planning theories of the early ‘60s. The background to multi-storey development in most British cities between the 1950s and 1970s is very similar: legislation and funding were standardised and thus the estates tended to be located in similar areas or in peripheral estates, developed with the same basic forms and with a similar social purpose (Towers, 2000). At the peak of the public housing programme, more than half of the properties built were flats because high-rise building received greater sums of state subsidy (for example a flat in a five storey block would receive double the amount than a house, and a flat in a fifteen storey would receive more than three times). Economies of scale derived from procurement strategies meant, “the merits of industrialised housing never matched the promises made for it” (Holmes, 1996: 24). Decrease in quality and failure in the application of a model that under the right circumstances could have worked well was very much down to economic and demographic pressures. (Paul, Romice 2010)

Although the social makeup of the early multi-storey housing was fairly similar to that of traditional tenemental areas, it was only in the mid 1960s, that those left in the clearing areas – the most vulnerable – were housed in multi-storey flats contributing to a concentration of unsuitable social types in unsuitable housing types (Jephcott, 1971). The decline of the highrise coincided with a sensible decline of the population. Glasgow, more than elsewhere suffered a tremendous demographic crisis.

YEAR 1951 1961 1981 1991 2001 2006

POPULATION 1,089,555 1,055,017 774,068 688,600 578,710 580,690 Sources: City Council, 2006

3.4 Glasgow at the end of the 20th century The decline of Glasgow is strictly related to the decline of the British Empire. Once the Empire collapsed, after the WWII, many Scottish industries found themselves unable to compete in world markets and went into terminal decline (Robertson, 1995). Between 1961 and 1981 employment in manufacturing fell from 387.000 at the beginning of the period to 188.000 twenty years later (MacGregor and Mather, 1986, MacInnes, 1995). Since the late 1940s agencies like the Scottish Office and the Scottish Enterprise, set up under the instruction of the central government, which have decided the economic destiny of Glasgow. Recently, according to the idea of


Glasgow: a city in translation

“selling places”16 a huge action of regeneration of the economy of the urban area has been set up. In 1985 was instituted the Glasgow Action, which became Glasgow Development Agency in 1991. Glasgow Action’s main focus was the city centre. [..] its aim was ‘to make the city more attractive to work in, to live in and to play in; to recreate Glasgow’s entrepreneurial spirit; to communicate the new reality of Glasgow to its citizens and to the world’. Its blueprint was ambitious, involving an environmental plan for the city centre, drawn up by the distinguished urban design consultant Gordon Cullen. On top of the agenda, Glasgow Action was to lead the drive to attract corporate headquarters to the city, help to develop a local software industry and encourage more local service industries to export their wares (Young, 1992). Gomez, 1998

Glasgow’s Miles Better - Logo

In housing field the main project of this period was undoubtedly the regeneration project of The Gorbals. Home to a world known slum settlement for industrial workforces in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, The Gorbals was cleared for an example of modernist planning in the early ’60 and then yet again at the start of the ‘90s for a now copied example of innovative and progressive publicprivate partnership over a competition masterplan which still today guides well fitting, proportionate, legible and liveable developments. The development was completed in 2000, and additional development on sites adjacent to Crown Street is set to be complete by 2015. The Gorbals is also part of a wider strategy to regenerate the area along the south bank of the River Clyde and to re-establish city centre living in Glasgow: promoting a new city marketing approach was the solution proposed by agencies to bring Glasgow from an industrial city attitude to a post industrial city attitude.

Aerial photo of the Crown Street re-development, Gorbals (left) and masterplan of the project (right). Photo by Glasgow City Council

16 Promotion of events, cultural policies, tourism…


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

Many several initiative have been proposed after the launch of the slogan “Glasgow’s Mile Better” (1983).  Mayfest (1982): annual arts festival  Burrell Art Collection (1983)  St Enoch, Prince Square, Italian Centre: shopping centres  Merchant City: luxury housing  Riverside Docklands  Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (1985)  National Garden Festival (1988)  New International Concert Hall (1990)  Scottish Opera  Royal Scottish National Orchestra  Citizens’ Theatre 90 According to these numerous initiatives Gordon Cullen was asked to design a plan that would improve the environmental quality of the city centre. He proposed Buchanan Street as a pedestrian street which connects the shopping centre of St. Enoch and a new civic square on the top, in front of the Royal Concert Hall. His contribution was helpful also in the definition of solutions for the waterfront area. A proposed has been drawn also for the M8 motorway but with no positive outcomes.

Projects of Gordon Cullen for the city centre of Glasgow. From the left: the overall plan which has been highlighted the main features of the project; the strategic “bastions” or high rise structures immediate to the motorway edge; the new “urban village“ centered on Buchanan Street.


Glasgow: a city in translation

3.5 Glasgow today Recent trends are confirming that Glasgow is increasing its urban quality. The city has been able to change its status and play a new role in business services, in advanced education, in publishing and in the arts (Gomez, 1998). In 1990 Glasgow has become European City of Culture, in 1999 British City of Architecture and Design. Nowadays the City Council constantly promotes new infrastructure and facilities, such as the New Riverside Museum by Zaha Hadid (2011) or the under development Paddle Sport Centre and the new Arts Avenue on Renfrew Street. Also the subway is on restructuration. But is not over: Glasgow will be the city of the next Commonwealth Games (2014). Until then, a huge area of the East End near the Celtic Park and the River Clyde will be planned and redevelopment. Riverside Museum by Zaha Hadid - 2011

Populations trends are demonstrating that Glasgow, after 50 years of dizzy decline, today has gained new appeal.

The 2006 GROS population estimate shows an increase in the City’s population of 1,900 compared to the previous year. The estimates for 2005 and 2006 show the first significant increase in the City’s population since the 1920s (with the exception of 2000/01, the first year of the asylum seeker programme). In the next decade, however, it is projected that the City will see an increase in the number of working age population and preschool age children, whilst the numbers of school age children and people of pensionable age are expected to fall. City Council, 2006

And predictions seem to be even better: The City’s population is expected to rise slightly over the next 10 years. The improving migration position is likely to be further enhanced by the renewal of the asylum seeker contract to 2011, although the termination of the contract is likely to have a temporary downward effect on migration in or after that year. The number of households is expected to continue to increase, but at a higher rate: 2,500 per year for 2006 to 2016, compared with 1,050 per year for 2001 to 2006. The number of households is projected to rise from 281,000 in 2006 to 306,000 in 2016. City Council, 2006

For the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Celtic Park will serve as the site for the Opening Ceremony on July 23rd. (from


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living



A new wave of Urbanism

Before introducing the most recent urban policies it is important to know and understand what happened by the ‘70s and ‘80s in USA and UK, which it has to be considered the historical background behind further actions and documents such as Towards an Urban Renaissance (Urban Task Force, 1999). The movements which were born in that period have generated probably the unique rich soils where today a regeneration projects can be developed, and, above all, it can be successful. By the ’60, during a massive action of suburbanization, both in USA and UK, it starts to become strong the necessity to control this urban sprawl and to propose real and practicable solutions. New Urbanism and Place Making were two of them. 4.1 NEW URBANISM - USA New Urbanism is a planning movement arisen in US in the early 1980s. Its idea is to reform built environment’s design through the revival of place-making. New Urbanism has emerged as one response, promoted as the “Smart Growth” strategy by mainstream, middle-class environmentalist organizations. New Urbanism aims to change the built environment of American urban areas over time by creating a new regulatory regime for development. New Urbanists propose an increase in density in both new suburbs and older areas while discouraging low-density outward expansion into open land around existing conurbations. (Tom Wetzel, past president of the San Francisco Community Land Trust)

According to the Charter of the New Urbanism (Congress of the New Urbanism, 1993), the New Urbanism works in three directions: the Metropolis, the Neighbourhood and the Street. These are three levels and categories of interventions, actions, policies with the same aims: the restoration of existing urban centres and towns [..], the reconfiguration of sprawling suburbs into communities of real neighbourhood [..], the conservation of natural environments, and the preservation of our built legacy. Smart growth can be considered the strategy above the New Urbanism, and it


A new wave of Urbanism

is a planning and transportation theory born in the 1970s promoting compact transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle friendly developments. BOX2 - Character of the New Urbanism

city, and town

district, and the corridor

and the building

1) Metropolitan regions are finite places with geographic boundaries derived from topography, watersheds, coastlines, farmlands, regional parks,

10) are the essential elements of development and

19) A primary task of all urban architecture and landscape design is the physical definition of streets and public spaces as places of shared use.

multiple centers that are cities, towns, and villages, each with its own identifiable center and edges. 2) economic unit of the contemporary world. Governmental cooperation, public policy, physical planning, and economic strategies must reflect this new reality. 3) relationship to its agrarian hinterland and natural economic, and cultural. Farmland and nature are as important to the metropolis as the garden is to the house. 4) Development patterns should not blur or eradicate the edges of the metropolis. Infill development within existing urban areas conserves environmental resources, economic investment, and social fabric, while reclaiming marginal and abandoned areas. Metropolitan regions should develop strategies to encourage such infill development over peripheral expansion. 5) Where appropriate, new development contiguous to urban boundaries should be organized as neighborhoods and districts, and be integrated with the existing urban pattern. Noncontiguous development should be organized as towns and villages with their own urban edges, and planned for a jobs/housing balance, not as bedroom suburbs. 6) and cities should respect historical patterns, precedents, and boundaries. 7) Cities and towns should bring into proximity a broad spectrum of public and private uses to support a regional economy that benefits people of all incomes. Affordable housing should be distributed throughout the region to match job opportunities and to avoid concentrations of poverty. 8) be supported by a framework of transportation alternatives. Transit, pedestrian, and bicycle systems should maximize access and mobility throughout the region while reducing dependence upon the automobile. 9) Revenues and resources can be shared more cooperatively among the municipalities and centers within regions to avoid destructive competition for tax base and to promote rational coordination of transportation, recreation, public services, housing, and community institutions.

identifiable areas that encourage citizens to take responsibility for their maintenance and evolution. 11) Neighborhoods should be compact, pedestrian friendly, and mixed-use. Districts generally emphasize a special single use, and should follow the principles of neighborhood design when possible. Corridors are regional connectors of neighborhoods and districts; they range from boulevards and rail lines to rivers and parkways. 12) Many activities of daily living should occur within walking distance, allowing independence to those who do not drive, especially the elderly and the young. Interconnected networks of streets should be designed to encourage walking, reduce the number and length of automobile trips, and conserve energy. 13) Within neighborhoods, a broad range of housing types and price levels can bring people of diverse ages, races, and incomes into daily interaction, strengthening the personal and civic bonds essential to an authentic community. 14 ) Transit corridors, when properly planned and coordinated, can help organize metropolitan structure and revitalize urban centers. In contrast, highway corridors should not displace investment from existing centers. 15) Appropriate building densities and land uses should be within walking distance of transit stops, permitting public transit to become a viable alternative to the automobile. 16) Concentrations of civic, institutional, and commercial activity should be embedded in neighborhoods and districts, not isolated in remote, single-use complexes. Schools should be sized and located to enable children to walk or bicycle to them.

20) Individual architectural projects should be transcends style. 21) buildings should reinforce safe environments, but not at the expense of accessibility and openness. 22) In the contemporary metropolis, development must adequately accommodate automobiles. It should do so in ways that respect the pedestrian and the form of public space. 23) Streets and squares should be safe, comfortable, and interesting to the pedestrian. Properly configured, they encourage walking and enable neighbors to know each other and protect their communities. 24) Architecture and landscape design should grow from local climate, topography, history, and building practice. 25) Civic buildings and public gathering places require important sites to reinforce community deserve distinctive form, because their role is different from that of other buildings and places that constitute the fabric of the city. 26) All buildings should provide their inhabitants with a clear sense of location, weather and time. Natural methods of heating and cooling can be more resource-efficient than mechanical systems. 27) Preservation and renewal of historic buildings, districts, and landscapes affirm the continuity and evolution of urban society.

17) of neighborhoods, districts, and corridors can be improved through graphic urban design codes that serve as predictable guides for change. 18) A range of parks, from tot-lots and village greens to ballfields and community gardens, should be distributed within neighborhoods. Conservation areas and open lands should be used to define and connect different neighborhoods and districts.

Congress for the New Urbanism

© Copyright 2001 by Congress for the New Urbanism. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without written permission.

The ideas and principles of New Urbanism have been generated through many theories and by many people. Firstly, it has been inspired by the theory of the New Pedestrianism (1929) which it became real with the planned community of Radburn, New Jersey. Like New Urbanism, New Pedestrianism has its roots in compact, mixed-use neighbourhoods during and prior to the first quarter of the 20th century. New Pedestrianism borrows and then expands upon earlier experiments in urban 45

Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

design that focused on separating pedestrians from vehicular traffic. Famous urban planners Ebenezer Howard and Sir Patrick Geddes were an earlier influence on the design of Radburn, New Jersey, built at the dawn of the automobile age in 1929. The new neighbourhood had pedestrian lanes in front and vehicular access at the rear on culde-sacs that protruded into large multi-use blocks. Secondarily, the masterpiece The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) by Jane Jacobs, has been another milestone in the development of this organisation. Jacobs argued that modernist urban planning rejects the city, because it rejects human beings living in a community characterized by layered complexity and seeming chaos. The separation of uses of the modernism, she claimed, was a policy which destroyed communities and innovative economies by creating isolated, unnatural urban spaces. Jacobs in the 1960s promoted the elimination of new single-use housing projects, the elimination of our large car-dependence (related to the urban sprawl) and the elimination Map of Radburn (from of segregated commercial centres (the isolated huge shopping malls): all aspects which are foundations of the movement. Other authors influenced New Urbanism with their studies, such as Kevin Lynch and Oscar Newman. Meanwhile, the contribution of Christopher Alexander and Leon Krier helped the movement to grow even in Europe. All of them agreed of the failure of the modernism in planning cities and they became the advocates of a new approach to urban life, which is more citizen-centred, and where the main character of each development plan has not to be the building or the urban block but the community and the neighbourhood as a whole. 4.2 Limits and criticisms of New Urbanism Today this movement is largely accepted in USA, many projects have been already designed and realized according to its principles and most of them seem to reach a good level of sustainability under several aspects. Although, some limits are still visible and clear. The main limits of the New Urbanism seem to be three: one is the high consumption of Greenfield instead of Brownfield, the second one is the high level of rents required for the new houses and the third is the general failure in use of mass transit instead of private car. The problem that most of the New Urbanist neighbourhood are Greenfield developments built without context on urban peripheries is crucial. Alex Krieger, which introduce with an essay the book Towns and Town – making Principles (1991) by Andreas Duany and Elisabeth Aerial view of Seaside, Plater-Zyberk17, has to admit that [..] they have been operating at the project by DPZ company. edge of the expanding city, persuading those with a few hundred acres of as yet underdeveloped land to develop it more thoughtfully, more environmentally soundly, more urbanely. And he also adds that Duany and Plater-Zyberk operate best in the trenches, admonishing, cajoling, occasionally steaming those most responsible for producing the suburban landscape. In the same book the authors show more than ten projects already designed which can be considered New Urbanism projects. Just one of them (Trenton regeneration project) is based on a Brownfield site. To be honest, this is not just a Duany and Plater-Zyberk’s choice, but is a more general and largely 17 Duany and Plater-Zyberk are co-founder and emeritus board members of the Congress for the New Urbanism, established in 1993.


A new wave of Urbanism

accepted rule: if we read the Charter ot the New Urbanism we will not find the distinction between Brownfield and Greenfield, but just a general purpose of “conservation of natural environments”.

Picturesque cottages and townhouses line the streets of Seaside, Fla., one of DPZ’s earliest projects. Credit: Steven Brooke Studios.

The big second limit of the New Urbanism is an economical issue. If it is almost accepted that the housing market tends to sort the population by income into different areas, but, what it can not be accepted is the fact that New Urbanism tends to be a policy that promotes private, for-profit investment in urban working class neighbourhood (Tom Wetzel). Lacking any program for democratization of land use, and no way of ensuring access of all income levels to affordable housing and urban amenities, the New Urbanist vision is in danger of being merely a facade, a set of vague slogans to legitimize the agendas of capitalist developers. (Tom Wetzel, past president of the San Francisco Community Land Trust)

It is clear that this phenomenon is related to others more dangerous like gentrification or lack policies of community participation. Like their right-wing “free market” opponents, New Urbanists do not challenge capitalist control of investment in the built environment. What is needed is a more bottom-up, grassroots approach that increases community participation and control over land use. Democratic control over land and investment is needed to facilitate revitalization of decayed areas and to prevent displacement of low-income residents. (Tom Wetzel, past president of the San Francisco Community Land Trust)

The threat that New Urbanism could be seen only as a marketing action of planning is high. The main criticisms moved to important architects of the New Urbanism like Duany & Plater-Zyberk is about their style both in representation


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

and realization of their projects. Their typical drawings (prospective vignettes) and their neoclassical style seem to be in contraposition with the real needs of the communities. The fact that [..] many of the vignettes would fine greeting cards it has to be considered just a clear marketing tool by the authors. (Alex Krieger, 1991)

Prospective of Johannisviertel by DPZ company - from

The third limit of the New Urbanism is the general failure to increase use of mass transit instead of private car. This limit can be considered a consequence of the attitude of New Urbanism to design on Greenfields and suburbs. The isolation and segregation of the suburbs it has not an easy solution. Promoting a restoration of the suburbs has to be related with bigger policies in terms of transports and infrastructures and more significant changes in community behaviour. This will require more sustained, coordinated efforts by members of the community, local planners, and employers, to ensure that available transit options are used more intensively (Bruce Podobnik, 2009). Too often New Urbanism still produces segregates zones in a contrived atmosphere that seems less like a real neighbourhood and more like a television set (Chris De Wolf). And segregated zones hardly ever means high use of mass transit. Even the successful Orenco Station Regeneration Project, which has been designed in the inner city of Portland and not in the suburbs, it has generally fail to live up to urbanist ideals in terms of riding mass transit. Although the project has been design for encouraging use of mass transit, values are still too low to be considered acceptable (Eric Jaffe). 4.3 PLACE MAKING - UK Like New Urbanism, Place Making has been developed in the ‘70s. Concepts and backgrounds are similar. Both are part of the wave of new urbanism started from the exceptional efforts of intellectuals like Jane Jacobs (Jacobs, 1961), Christopher Alexander (Alexander, 1965), Gordon Cullen (Cullen, 1965), Kevin Lynch (Lynch, 1960), Oscar Newman (Newman O. , 1973), Donald Appleyard and Allan Jacobs (Appleyard, 1982) (Jacobs & Appleyard, 1987) which some of them I have already mentioned. After years of modernism, the link between the artificial construction of a place 48

A new wave of Urbanism

and the local community of inhabitants was almost destroyed and lost. New visions and ideas has started to grow. We have theories, specialisms, regulations, exhortations, demonstration projects. We have planners. We have highway engineers. We have mixed use, mixed tenure, architecture, community architecture, urban design, neighbourhood strategy. But what seems to have happened is that we have simply lost the art of placemaking. [..] We are good at putting up buildings but we are bad at making places. (Bernard Hunt, 2001) This criticism shows the shared feelings and worries of many planners, urban designers, municipalities‌ at the end of the century. From this situation the Place Making grew up in UK, and it became easily popular. In the book Placemaking: The Art and Practice of Building Communities (1995, Lynda H. Schneekloth, Robert G. Shibley), the authors define the Place Making as the way in which all human beings transform the places they find themselves into the places where they live. This could seems a quite poetic definition but it shows the real purpose of the Place Making: make spaces more liveable. Place Making is a new more inclusive, democratic approach to the design of human spaces which is different from the New Urbanism. In New Urbanism social aspects that a project has to involve were not a priority as for Place Making is. Place making is not just design: it involves understanding the bigger story about a place, as well as being attentive to the small but important details. It involves taking care of what is there already and anticipating what is still needed to make a place work. (CABE 2011) The neighbourhood approach of the Place Making it allows to promote more local actions which aim to the needs of citizens. This kind of approach seem to be derived from the theory of the districts by Leon Krier. Like neighbourhoods, districts for Krier are matters of size and functions. Each quartier should contain within it all the facilities (for work, residence and leisure) required for urban living and civic dignity: the quartier become a city within the city (Krier 1978, 1979). To sum up we can say that Place Making is a balance between the physical, the social and even spirituals qualities of a place, if with the term spiritual we consider the identity that each place has inside. Place Making aims also to produce places for everybody form a new democratic point of view. Placemaking also makes economic sense - good quality places are usually cheaper to run, easier to maintain, and attract investment. (CABE 2011)

This last point is in direct contraposition with outcome of the New Urbanism which main limit is to be not affordable to everybody. Place Making again shows that this social approach is really important and has to be part of the urban design process. Another fundamental aspect not mentioned in the Charter of the New Urbanism is that the Place Making support a strong community involvement, not just in terms of participation but also in terms of arranging local communities and civic/local leaders. It’s local leaders that are best placed to understand how a place should develop, and bring together all the different partners involved in making that vision a reality. This pivotal role will only become more important as


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

the government implements its radical plans for decentralising power to councils and communities: with the introduction of ‘open source’ planning, and emphasis on community-led planning; with a massive scaling back of targets and inspection regimes; through a new general power of competence, putting local people squarely in the driving seat. (CABE 2011)

Another fundamental aspect of the Place Making is the consumption of Brownfield instead of Greenfield. This is another feature which distinguish Place Making from New Urbanism. For Place Making, a successful regeneration project usually takes place in the inner city because that part of cities is more suitable for these kind of projects. The inner city is an area of the city located near the city centre characterized by a wide amount of derelict and abandoned lands. In the UK, it often coincides with the old industrial core of the city, developed after the Industrial Revolution and then dismantled with the process of deindustrialization. Promoting a regeneration project in the inner city is a huge opportunity to preserve the landscape outside the city, promote a new attractive area of the city, increase jobs Greenwich Peninsula, and services opportunity. Greenwich Peninsula in London and from The Gorbals in Glasgow are two successful guide-project of this process. Nowadays Place Making is evolving. Today a sector of it can be considered the Urban Design which tries to boost the place making towards a more socially cohesive and environmentally friendly approach. But it is not over: also PlotBased Urbanism can be considered a kind of plug in of Place Making, and probably many others have to come. Within this scenario the future of the Place Making movement seems prosperous, because it is showing a remarkable quality of controlling the evolution and promoting changes, maybe the unique condicio sine qua non that every successful policy must have. “Over the last three decades, the urban design movement known as new urbanism has emerged as an important alternative to traditional suburban development. New urbanist communities are explicitly designed to increase social interactions, pedestrian mobility, and reliance on mass transit.

Aerial view of the masterplan of the Greenwich Peninsula, project by Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners, from


A new wave of Urbanism

Advocates of new urbanism have argued that this design approach can form the basis of a fundamentally new form of urbanization, which is more socially cohesive and environmentally sustainable. Some proponents have even argued that this approach to urban development can help address global climate change problems. The proliferation of new urbanist communities in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere is a testament to the allure of these multiple promises.” (Podobnik, 2009)

4.4 Limits and criticism of Place Making Of course even for the Place Making there are some limits and criticisms. As it is for New Urbanism also Place Making has to pay attention on the risk to promote projects and policies just as a marketing strategy and not as a comprehensive and holistic strategy. The term can be heard in many settings–not only by citizens committed to grassroots community improvement but by planners and developers who use it as a fashionable “brand” that implies authenticity and quality even when their projects don’t always live up to that promise. But using “Placemaking” to label a process that really doesn’t focus on public participation or result in lively, genuine communities dilutes the true value of this powerful philosophy. (PPS, Projects for Public Spaces, 2011)

Less than New Urbanism, but even the Place Making suffers of phenomenon of gentrification. The famous project of the Greenwich Peninsula in London has promoted the requalification of the area in the same place of the old manufactory area by the Thames. But the regeneration plan changed completely the identity of the area and the new houses with their low level of energy consumption became very expensive and not affordable for all the previous inhabitants. On the other hand, projects like The Gorbals in Glasgow promoted a more affordable policy. Using the traditional Glasgow housing type of the tenement the City Council has been able to produce a project with cope well with the city in terms of housing forms, services and infrastructure and which can preserves the identity of the area and which offers affordable flats: a remarkable 25% of the all units are social housing. This example shows how a good process followed by good policies can reduced phenomenon of gentrification.


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living



The Urban Task Force

The past decade has seen almost unprecedented support for good urban design. The first and probably main step of this increased interest in higher standards of urban design was the establishment of the Urban Task Force (1998). The Government leads by the Labour Party, promoted this new institution with the clear idea to understand how to use a projected 20% increase in the number of household in England over the next 20 years as a basis for regenerating UK towns and cities (Urban Design Compendium, 2000). Outcome of the task force was the document Toward an Urban Renaissance (1999). This Report, which should work as a guide for further urban developments, is described and analyzed in this chapter. In 1998 the Deputy Prime Minister invited Richard Rogers and his Êquipe to set up the Urban Task Force18 to identify causes of urban decline and establish a vision for our cities, founded on the principles of design excellence, social wellbeing and environmental responsibility within appropriate delivery, fiscal and legal frameworks (Richard Rogers, 2005). But another big government’s aim was to accommodate a projected 3.8 million additional household in England by 2021, with 60% of new housing on Brownfield sites (John Punter, 2011). Towards an Urban Renaissance has been a sum of guidelines which has covered all the aspects of the urban life, but core of the urban renaissance has been the urban regeneration because it has been considered the unique instrument able to combine the restoration of cities and the promotion a new way of life: a sustainable way of life. Key message of the Urban Task Force’s work was the urban neighbourhood: it would be vital, safe and a beautiful place to live in, not just in aesthetical but also in economical terms. In UTF opinion, working on the public realm (the heart of the community) is the first step to start a process of evolution: more investments produce more attractive places and more vibrant places which would promote more interaction and social integration. The Urban Task Force report focused on four main areas on reform: the pursuit of a design excellence, housing supply and quality, public realm and urban 18 Sometimes I am going to use the abbreviation UTF instead of Urban Task Force


The Urban Task Force

environmental quality, and local governance. According to these elements the final Urban Task Force’s vision was: well designed, compact and connected cities supporting a diverse range of uses – where people live, work and enjoy leisure time at close quarters – in a sustainable urban environment well integrated with public transport and adaptable to change. This idyllically vision has been mostly successful, however also some negative outcomes came out. 5.1 Methodology of the research When I have analyzed the UTF, I have based my study on two other important documents, in addition to Towards an Urban Renaissance (1999). The first document is Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance (TSUR), an independent report by the same members UTF chaired by Lord Roger of Riverside, which has been published in the 2005. It can be considered a workin-progress report. The second one is Urban Design and the English Urban Renaissance 19992009: a Review and Preliminary Evaluation (EUR), which has been edited by John Punter in 2011. These two documents have helped me to understand positive and negative outcomes of the UTF during ten years. Making my analysis more understandable I have chosen to chronologically separate the analysis in two boxes: one with the general positive/negative outcomes made by UTF staff in 2005, and the other with more particular criticism made by Punter in 2011. Before that, I have divided all criticism in four main categories according to the categories presented by the UTF in the first document Towards an Urban Renaissance. Four categories are design excellence, social wellbeing, environmental responsibility, delivery, fiscal and legal framework. At the end of the chapter my personal positive/negative criticism and conclusions will be drawn.

5.2 DESIGN EXCELLENCE: Design excellence concerns the quality of the design of buildings and public spaces. It concerns also infrastructures, public transport, different facilities, specialist civic buildings... UTF guidelines: UTF has argued that urban design has to be a priority of the development plan of cities. After that, aim of the UTF has been also to add to physical and social sphere the concept of sustainability, promoting more affordable houses. Until now over £2bn have been invested by central government in urban regeneration. UFT has argued strongly that the institutions should place the quality of the built environment at the heart of their mission. They have created a national urban design framework, disseminating key design principles through land use planning and public funding guidance. Promotion of several design competitions has been one of most important solution proposed by the UTF to increase the level of quality in urban design projects.


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

They have recommended also an integrated, spatial design that gives priority to connectivity, social inclusion, high quality public space and sustainability. The idea was to persuade developers that public real strategy has to be a pre-requisite rather than a planning gain add-on. They have under taken area demonstration projects which illustrate the benefits of a design-led approach to the urban regeneration process, based upon production of a three dimensional spatial masterplan and public participation. The Urban Task Force recommended that public funds should only be invested in significant urban projects that are subject to design competitions and that Regenerating the Inner city means promoting new activities and avoiding the urban sprawl. But for new development the UTF has encouraged to develop buildings and neighbourhood with medium-high level of density. The Task Force was also careful to argue for medium densities (40 dwellings per hectare) and medium rise residential (4/5 storeys) as the urban norm, and to note that higher densities could be achieved without necessarily building high. A comprehensive design advice has been given to the local authorities through the practice manual By Design (DETR/CABE, 2000), which was subsequently reinforced by detailed national guidance on accessibility, safer places and residential street design. (Punter, 2011). In transport UTF has encouraged a sensible decrease of automobile dependence ad it has suggested that the road space would be planned to give priority to walking, cycling and public transport. Fast and efficient public transport would connect centres with strong sub-centres developed around transport interchanges. In according to these transport, interchanges planned density would be increased around them and mixed use would maximise easy access on foot to shops and services. The Home Zones have been introduced in partnership with local communities, which give residential areas special legal status in controlling traffic movement through the neighbourhood BOX 3 - Density, transport, urban sprawl and architecture quality (TSUR, 2005) UTF positive outcomes:  Building density has increased from an average of 25 dwellings per hectare in 1997 to 40 dwellings per hectare in 2005.  Many small “infill” projects have been successful because they were easy to relate to an existing context.  There has been a significant increase in investment in public transport infrastructure, with greater attention given to the needs of pedestrian and sustainable transport.  The Commission for Architecture and the Built Masterplan of Greenwich Environment has become an established champion Peninsula, by RSH-P, from of design quality.  London has answered well to transport changes: congestion charge has helped civilise conditions in the centre, the bus system has responded massively and flexibly to the challenge of growth, commuter rail has modernised and responded to resign demand.  Some well-designed integrated urban projects stand out as international exemplars of sustainable communities (the Millennium Village in Greenwich, London), despite public investment in new housing.


The Urban Task Force

UTF limits:  Design quality is still not a central objective for public bodies with responsibilities in the built environment. The majority of new developments remain poorly designed, with public realm and buildings of a very low quality. Despite of £2bn being invested by the central government in urban regeneration since 2000, only a handful of completed projects can be considered of international stature (some innovative schemes in Manchester and the Millenium Village and the Peabody Housing in London)  Many regeneration projects have been designed with cheap and fragmented residential units relatively isolated from surrounding communities.  Many competitions in UK have been badly run, lagging well behind the European standards. This has happened because the quality if design brief is often poor and it ignores the UTF recommendations.  There has been too often a separation between the design team appointed to carry out the masterplan and another design team charged with delivering the detailed design of individual units and places.  Urban streets are over-engineered to maximise traffic flow, pedestrians and cyclists are still treated as second, or third class citizens, and public transport is often totally un-integrated.  Decisions on urban transport are still taken piecemeal, in apparent isolation from their impact on regeneration: the Department for Transport, which is dominated by highway engineers, is simply not part of government’s regeneration agenda. Manchester ‘s Metrolink extensions have not started yet, London’s Docklands Light Railway suffers lack on money. Corby still lacks a passenger rail service. Merseytram in Liverpool has stalled. Metrolink, Manchester  Space continues to be wasted thanks to overly demanding highway standards and sprawling road layouts.

BOX 4 - Density, transport, urban sprawl and architecture quality (EUR, 2011) Punter positive outcomes:  It has been created an unequivocal government support and comprehensive advice on which to found local authorities’ efforts (local planning authority practice manual By Design)  CABE was run by the former UTF Secretary from 1999 to 2004, and made itself indispensable to the development and delivery of best practice urban design in the planning system. CABE have provided workshops and summary advice explaining how to develop convincing strategy linked to quality of place and a design vision for the future.  There has been much good advice and valuable experimentation with masterplanning as a means of securing improved design across larger sites.  CABE has provided valuable advice on best practice design for both development controllers and local politicians and promoted the idea of design champions to create a stronger design culture in planning and development processes (advices on conservation areas, tall buildings policies, town centre retail, urban housing, masterplanning…).  The proliferation of regional/sub-regional/local panels in England is testimony to the perceived value of well-informed cross-professional critique in raising design standards: 91% of LPAs (Local Planning Authorities) felt there were benefits from design review, and 70% of reviews developers followed some element of the panel’s advice.  A good work has also been done to demonstrate the value of urban design and quality regeneration to both the private and public sectors.


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 Average densities have increased from 25 to 41 dwelling units per hectare from the beginning of the UTF.  Few projects of high-rises in the inner has been well-designed apartment complex. Examples like The Edge Manchester and Ropewalks in Liverpool can be considered two exceptional contributes to city centres.  There has been an increase in the number of exemplar housing schemes, and some housebuilders, housing associations and niche developers have demonstrated a consistent commitment to achieving higher standards of design.  Nottingham has been a great example of the capability of councils of achieving the necessary joined-up approach across a wide range of interventions. Its design renaissance has been facilitated by the retention of highways, transportation and planning functions within a single directorate over 30 years. Westminster, Camden, Edinburgh are similar examples.

The Edge Manchester, Manchester

Ropewalks, Liverpool

Punter limits:  By 2004 every English local authorities had to establish a Sustainable Community Strategy (vision for localities ) and a Local Development Framework (physical plan in line with the strategy): the results have been very poor and the relationship between the two documents used to be was very weak. LDF are still clearly not a priority for the majority of local authorities.  Use of design competitions to raise design quality has been very limited, also design brief has been widely under-used.  Quality design has still to ensure, particularly with regard to tall buildings. Medium and high-rise apartment buildings have been the biggest design failing: poor architecture, poor urban design, lack of energy efficiency, inadequate space standards.  Conservation and contextual design has suffered the pressure of higher level of densities, producing many iconic, neo-modernist objects architecture. Often the solution has been high rise buildings completely isolated from historical city.  Building for Life design criteria (the national standard for well-designed homes and neighbourhoods), promoted by CABE, it has revealed that less than a fifth of all the medium density schemes surveyed have met what professional auditors considered to be a good standard (see  Most LPAs have failed to develop a range of housing density policies in line with their spatial visions, appropriate to the capacity of local infrastructure and amenities, and to housing needs and availability.  Many regeneration projects has forced councils of achieving the necessary joined-up approach only on individual projects and not across a wide range of interventions.


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5.3 SOCIAL WELLBEING: Social wellbeing means everything concerns the community: services, employments, leisure facilities, public areas and the community involvement in the planning and decisional system. Part of this category is also the whole house market: private home, rented home, social housing… UTF guidelines: In terms of social wellbeing the UFT has tried to support a more physical growth of the city instead of an improvement of the communities. The idea was that a new high quality city would upgrade also the population conditions. Main problem has been the high level of unemployment and economic inactivity: Government has moved its key office out of London to encourage growth of highly skilled jobs. Infill development has been the key word of the UFT: revaluing existing communities through project in the inner city and with mixed tenure has been its main purpose. This process has been done in many UK cities such as Brindley Palce, Birmingham Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow (inner city) and Edinburgh, Durham, Chester, York (mixed tenure). The Renaissance Funds has been established for community groups and voluntary organisations which can access the resources needed to tackle derelict buildings and other eyesores spoiling their urban neighbourhood. Government has shifted the social housing owner from the local authorities to the housing association, increasing housing conditions Holbeck Urban Village, and promoting new investments. New powers have been given to the Leeds Local Authorities in controlling and managing the urban environments and to tries to tackle private property such as Empty Dwelling Management Orders and selective licensing of private landlords. To improve the citizen security, the UTF has increased supervision measures and crime prevention with financial and political investment. Leadership Centre for Local Government and Local Area Agreement have helped the creation of new politicians and the growth of collaborations between partners which work in the same local area. Also education has not been forgotten: the City Academy programme and the Building School for the Future programme have improved urban schools. The Regional Resource Centre for Urban Development has been developed to promote regional innovation and good practice, co-ordinating urban development training and encouraging community involvement in the regeneration process. BOX 5 - Culture of planning, accessibility to facilities, demographic trends, gentrification (TSUR, 2005) UTF positive outcomes:  There has been a measurable change of culture in favour of towns and cities.  People have started to move back into city centres: in 1990 there were 90 people living in the heart of Manchester, in the 2005 there are 25.000 residents.  Over half of all social housing is now owned by housing associations  Local authorities are playing a bigger role in controlling and managing urban environments. Also neighbourhood management is proving popular and successful and many alternative local partnerships to deliver regeneration are emerging.


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

 Urban school has increased their quality.  Crime prevention is increasing: visible growth in street policing and the number of neighbourhood wardens makes people, particularly mothers with children, fell safer. UTF negative limits:  Middle class families have moved out of towns and cities in search of better schools, less congestion and a safer environment (in the inner city of London in 2001 lived 28% of people aged 45 or older, compared with the 40% in the country side)  Massive inequalities persist in cities, and the prices for housing are often not affordable for lower income households.  Gentrification in inner cities has still not solved, and it is increasing.  Housing demand is still growing and social housing supply is too low: more than £1.2bn is required each year to subsidise 17.00 additional social housing units.  Many projects have been designed with a lack of social and commercial institutions that sustain urban life: “ghettoisation” is increasing in these areas.  Ethnic polarisation in the poorest areas has intensified and often, in new housing outside the cities, it emerges a deepening racial and social polarisation.  Too often, design is imposed on communities rather than involving them. Community groups and local representatives are still excluded from the decision-making process and are not adequately supported by professional facilitators.  Families in more disadvantages urban areas feel under immense pressure from crime, youth disorder, environmental decay, traffic pollution, unsupervised poorly maintained parks an a loss of local shops, play spaces and other services.  Government support for community level action is fragmented, confusing and increasingly dilute.  Neighbourhood and suburban shopping and community centres are failing in many places.

BOX 6 - Culture of planning, accessibility to facilities, demographic trends, gentrification (EUR, 2011) Punter positive outcomes:  More attention has been paid to public participation  Quality of social housing has been improved: one million social housing units had been brought up to the new decent homes standard by 2005 and 88 of the most deprived areas have benefited from intensive neighbourhood renewal schemes.  New wider definitions of gentrification were born in the inner cities: commercial and tourist gentrification, “studentification”, “financification”. This is the result of decades which cities have attracted new and more affluent households. These movements have generated a positive outcomes because they have supported the reinvestment in retail, entertainment and culture in city centres and they have boosted the evening economy. A process of new mixed communities is now in progress.  Increased privatization of public spaces in the city centres has increased feeling of security in the city centres. Surveillance and level of visibility are higher than before.  Teenagers use their own social spaces in the less commercialized spaces of the city centre at weekends, creating significant nodes of real sociability.  Crime had fallen, including violent crime.


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Punter limits:  Even if social mix in the inner city was one of the most important aspirations of the UTF, segregation, social exclusion and gentrification have reached higher level.  Proposal for redevelopment the inner cities have often provoked strong NIMBY response.  The government have failed to ensure an adequate housing supply, especially of affordable housing (in 10 years the housebuilding industry has met only between 58-75% of the annual housing production targets).  There has been an increase of almost 80% in local housing authority waiting list in the last ten years, there has been triple increase in house prices related to a dramatic decrease in housing affordability.  UK homeownership levels have started to fall from the peak of 71% (2000).  Council demands for affordable housing have been a major factor driving up residential densities and in reducing design quality.  The pedestrianized city centres has increased worries: the risk is that they are becoming too exclusive, just for consumer.  The evening economy is becoming not tolerable for residents of the city centres. Not tolerable living conditions have generated the new “stress areas”.  Antisocial behaviour had increased and also the majority of the public believe that urban crime rates are increasing.  Public participation is still too low: citizens are not very involved in preparation of visions and strategies for their communities.  A general decline in citizen and amenity group activism in planning and design matters sadly seems to have been the norm.  Safe Routes to School and other school travel plans have showed very disappointing level of progress.

5.4 ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY (and public realm): Environmental responsibility and public realm concerns the whole non built-up areas such as parks, squares, streets… But this category contains also issue related to the environment like water and air pollution, urban wastes, carbon emissions of buildings, pedestrian policies and so on. UTF guidelines: Since buildings produce 50% of emissions, and urban sprawl and congestion are major drivers of energy use, UTF was aware that urban regeneration is an essential element in policies designed to meet the target of the most important environmental challenges. In these terms it seems correct that the UTF have established a reduction of carbon emissions by 60% by 2050 and, from April 2006, all publicly funded new homes should respect a new code to make them more sustainable (Code for Sustainable Buildings). Brownfield has been another important UTF’s aim: whenever possible brownfield development should prioritise over Greenfield development. Otherwise, when is compulsory to built on greenfield housing development should be encouraged in growth corridor which adhere to the core principles of compact, well-designed and well-connected neighbourhood. And this is exactly what UTF promoted and proposed. A new planning guidance has established precise volume, density and location of new housing development, trying to control the market. UTF has made also recommendations to reduce car use, reclaim road space for pedestrians, improve walking, cycling ad use of public transport, and reduce the supply of parking in towns and cities and increase its cost.


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

In legal terms, the UTF has given to local authorities a strategic role in managing the whole urban environment, with powers to ensure that other property owners maintain their land and premises to an acceptable standard. New Urban Priority Areas has aimed to establish areas where special regeneration measures will apply. Also recommendations for public realm and comprehensive green pedestrian networks, has been concentrated on the development of a single strategy to link design, funding, management and maintenance at the local authority level (see exemplar urban design strategies in Birmingham, Glasgow and Bristol in the early 1990s). BOX 7 - Brownfield, environmental impact, traffic policies, walking&cycling strategies (TSUR, 2005) UTF positive outcomes:  Re-use of brownfield land instead of building houses on greenfield sites has been increased from 56% in 1997 to 70% in 2005 (national average).  There has been a slow growth of density standard for new residential development.  There have been some progresses to reduce the environmental impact towards the application of the Code for Sustainable Building. UTF limits:  There has been a general failure to keep up with the challenge of climate change threatens enduring environmental degradation.  There has been a failure of the urban renaissance by taking a brownfield first approach.  The environment has felt marginal to the Sustainable Communities Plan, and anxiety about the Plan’s overall cost financially, socially and politically has grown.  A very little priority has given to the environmental importance of regeneration existing communities and improving existing housing to the highest ecostandards.  The true cost of Greenfield development has not jet fully recognised.  There has been a lack of an energy efficiency obligations on developers that matches the obligation placed on utilities.  Incentives have continued to favour Greenfield over sustainable brownfield development.

BOX 8 - Brownfield, environmental impact, traffic policies, walking&cycling strategies (EUR, 2011) Punter positive outcomes:  A remarkable 77% of housing development has taken place on brownfield land in 2007, up from the 56% declared by the UTF.  The Sustainable Communities Plan even if it has produced an inevitable suburban, Greenfield emphasis, it has helped to achieve sustainable urban extensions (see the examples of Nottingham, Stansted, Thames Gateway and Ashford).  Extensive efforts have been made to calm traffic, to share space, extend pedestrianization and improve public spaces, all with better signage,

Market Square, Nottingham


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lighting, furniture and public art.  It has been reduced the severance of inner ring roads and to reconnect city centres and inner neighbourhoods (see Birmingham). Also Sheffield and Nottingham have developed tram projects with three high quality pedestrian routes traversing the city centre and new pedestrian bridges.  Shared space concepts have achieved quality traffic calming.  Cleaner-Safer-Greener (2002) and Public Service Agreement have delivered higher standards of management of the public realm and they have improved local government performance across the range of urban management responsibilities.  The Heritage Lottery Funding (2006) have improved public parks. Green Flag Parks has been increased six-fold over the period 2002-2008 and now number over 720.  There has been a slow but steady improvement in the quality of the local environment.  Urban bus and train travel have been improved; with a positive impact on patronage (see the establishment of Transport for London).  Many incentives have been spent on walking and cycling Congestion strategies: with £100 million Cycling City initiative (2008), government area, London has promised to treble cycling levels by 2010. Punter limits:  Cost of sustainable homes is still too high and not affordable for anybody: current cost estimates suggest that a 2016 carbon neutral home will be 1724% more expensive than one with no energy conservation saving measures.  City centres have been the main beneficiaries of regeneration projects and incentives, but suburbs have suffered too much the lack of interventions.  Public realm improvements outside central areas have been comparatively rare.  Increased privatization of public spaces in the city centres has caused stronger security cordons and the fortification of space.  By 2003 only 17% of authorities had adopted integrated strategies for managing public spaces. Also co-ordinated management and community involvement were sporadic.  There has been a general failure to reduce traffic level and create sensible alternatives to the car.  Government has continued to take a very short-term view of investment in Light Rail Transit, rejecting schemes in cities like Leeds or delaying them like in Manchester.  The Sustainable Cities Index (2007/2008) showed that British cities have large environmental footprints, and they still have a long way to go to before they can claim significant progress towards sustainability.  There have been improvements in the design, maintenance and management of streets, public spaces and especially parks, but the scale of improvement has been modest and focused just on city centres.

5.5 DELIVERY, FISCAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK: Delivery, fiscal and legal framework concerns the principles of urban planning and the rules which allow to make it into practical actions. Part of this category is also the whole fiscal system made of taxes, funds, subsidies, benefits which a urban project can assume.


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

1999 UTF guidelines: UTF have done many changes in the legal framework. The purpose has followed two different ways. On one hand they have tried to boost the investment in regeneration projects by ensuring that sufficient public funds and fiscal measures are used to lever in greater amounts of private investment into regeneration projects. On the other hand they worked on the urban land and building assets by making development on brownfield sites more attractive than building on greenfield land and by promoting new vibrant social communities. For the first aim they have renovated the existing package of laws and rules, providing new incentives and tax measures for developers, investors, landlords, tenants to contribute to the regeneration of urban land ad buildings. They have proposed simplify the licensing system for remediation process on site (Better Regulation Task Force). They have also established national public-private investment funds and regional investment companies to attract additional funding. They have introduced a new financial instrument for attracting institutional investment into the residential private rented sector. Fore the second aim the government has introduced a number of tax incentives such as Living over the Shop, which promotes a vibrant neighbourhood and Stamp Duty Land Tax, which promotes a tax reductions in deprived areas. Local authorities have been given powers to advance the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of their communities. UTF have changed the statutory development plans more strategic and flexible in scope, they have adopted a sequential approach to the release of land and buildings for housing, they have required every local authority to maintain an empty property strategy that sets clear targets for reducing levels of vacant stock. A new Soil Guidance Values (SGVs) has been introduced. UTF Report has also given local authorities a key role to foster their own urban renaissance. The aim was to play an effective role in large-scale urban revitalization: more independence of action would be likely to pawn more enterprise and innovation, as European cities demonstrated (reforms of Council Tax and Business Rates). To better control the progresses of its operations and the huge amount of initiatives, laws and instruments that they have adopted, the UTF have also proposed that the government establishes a new Urban Policy Board to coordinate policy and produce annually a State of the Towns and Cities report. BOX 9 - Investments, taxs, fundings, legal and phiscal system (TSUR, 2005) UTF positive outcomes:  Private investment has been levered into the cities (£2 billion of private sector investment has flowed into the Manchester city region alone).  Local authority performance has been on an upward trend, and people seem have appreciated their work.  It has been increased the awareness that investing in deprived areas can provide returns as good as those available from prime areas and that regeneration areas can outperform prime areas by 20%. Consequently, urban regeneration has become a significantly higher priority for institutional investors.  Government have introduced many tax incentives, and its policy has moved on in the detailed technical areas of planning gain, compulsory purchase and land remediation (see East Manchester or Thames Gateway).  Progresses have been made on simplifying the licensing system for remediation processes on site.


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Thames Gateway, the masterplan and some new buildings UTF limits:  Plethora of overlapping, but differently funded and monitored, regeneration bodies has reduced the effectiveness of public sector led regeneration schemes, it has fragmented the decision-making process, and it has focused the attention on economic development, jobs and growth rather than high quality, well-designed, sustainable urban development.  There has been a lack of an effective gap funding or rental guarantee system.  Legal and fiscal changes have not yet generated the incentives and controls to deliver the urban renaissance.  Design advice to Ministers, Mayors, local authority leaders and cabinet is still too limited. There has been a lack of integrate the city region strategies and investment plans for regeneration, planning, housing, economic development and transport by the city mayors.  There are insufficient mechanisms in place to ensure that house builders and developers follow through to deliver high quality schemes once they have acquired land from public sector agencies.  The ability to strategically plan coherent urban areas has been limited by piecemeal way in which land is made available for development.  Lower income household has suffered disincentives to repair due to VAT on all reinvestment.  Land released to the market has been sold on the basis of financial consideration alone, and it has not been assessed for sustainable development.

BOX 10 - Investments, taxs, fundings, legal and phiscal system (EUR, 2011) Punter positive outcomes:  New national urban design framework of policies, guidance, processes and techniques have been developed from research on the best practice. This framework has helped many local authorities in good planning their areas. The contribution of CABE has been essential.  Good progress have been made in speeding up development control decision making, with 71% of local authorities now meeting government targets. The use of Planning Delivery Grant has worked well.  There has been significant funding for residential conversion over shops (after Living over the Shop).  National urban design framework with a range of instruments to improve design outcomes has been successfully put in place.  Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 (DETR, 2000) has been a crucial document prioritizing brownfield urban sites, implementing a sequential approach to the release of housing land, encouraging rapid denser forms of housing development (brownfield development was one the greatest achievement of the UTF).  The new Homes and Communities Agency has created a powerful and wellresourced body mandated to raise design standards, deliver a wide range of urban regeneration and mixed tenure housing projects, and to bring private developers and housing associations together in more development partnership.  UTF and the government have supported strong city executives and


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

Holbeck Urban Village, Leeds

committees able to develop co-ordinated planning and regeneration strategies: Manchester post 1986 is a model where a powerful central executive, led by a long-serving Chief Executive and Council Leader, have appointed from within to build a capable team of senior officers and have used development partnership with private enterprise very successfully. Also Liverpool has had similar positive experiences with a new Council Leader and Chief Executive and the establishment of an Urban Regeneration Company.  Several initiatives such as the Centres of Excellence for regeneration and the Academy for Sustainable Communities have improved the public and professional debate on regeneration and they have increased the public education in regeneration and sustainable matters. They are contributing to the provision of more professional and multi skilled public and councillors.

Punter limits:  The new guidance to upgrade urban conservation practice has been poorly received and the proposed Heritage Bill has been put on hold.  There has been no significant reform of Value-Added Tax to encourage refurbishment (see Holbeck Urban Village, Leeds)  The new Homes and Communities Agency has failed to reach modest design standards in its first schemes.  Many UTF proposals have not been implemented; as a result local authorities continue to have very limited funds to invest in infrastructure to support new development. Many have been forced to make swingeing cuts in revenue and capital budgets.  Local authorities have been forced to dispose of their land assets in ways which maximize financial receipts.  The simplification of regeneration funding and consolidation of participating agencies have remained unresolved and the bewildering complexity of funding sources and financial controls continues to undermine coherent action.  Too many local authorities have not followed the great experiences of Manchester and Liverpool which have generated strong city executives and committees able to develop co-ordinated planning and regeneration strategies.  A dramatic loss of skilled planning practitioners from the public sector as consultancies offer due to better pay and conditions.

5.6 Summary of major positive and negative aspects of the urban regeneration in UK Before trying to draw some conclusions I would like to quickly summarize the main good/bad outcomes of the UTF, more than 10 years after its birth: The design excellence probably has been the area where many positive efforts have been done. The culture of planning has been boosted a lot: a high profile has been given to design in planning practice. Now, the sustainable development it seems widely accepted. The new national urban design framework of policies, guidance, processes and techniques has been well implemented by a select number of authorities. In these terms the contribution of CABE has been fundamental. The emergence of a high number of investors, developers, landlords for whom good design it has been a primary objective of what UTF was looking for. Now, the new class of educated and formed actors allows us to think positive of the future development of our cities.


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The failures in design excellence have been concentrated in the low quality of buildings. Some major successes in city centres have to cope with several mediocre suburban housing developments. The high density apartment complexes have been often nightmares: many low-quality high-rises have grown in our cities, destroying the traditional beauty of them. The lack of clear density policies, obviously, has not helped local authorities and developers. Indeed, social housing has suffered a lot, and improvements on it, has been too slow. In terms of social wellbeing we can recognise just a few positive outcomes and many things have not done yet. There was a significant repopulation of the city centre. If we consider just the number of inhabitants and not their class we can say that our cities are slowly growing again. New apartment buildings and some new affordable housing allow thinking about a prosperous future. Also the general quality of the council housing stock has been brought up to decent homes standard. Nevertheless, there has been a huge failure to ensure an adequate supply of housing, in particularly to develop a clear social housing programme: from the Thatcherite housing policies no big changes have ever happened. Even today there is an enormous amount of people looking for homes but too many flats are still not affordable for them. In social terms, it is also remarkable the failure to create mixed communities, to counter social exclusion and gentrification, which were some of the main purposes of the UTF in 1999. Probably social wellbeing in cities will be the main and most difficult challenge of this century. Tangible improvements have been done in environmental responsibility. The proportion between developments taking place on brownfield rather than on Greenfield sites are increasing year by year and objectives are still largely reachable. In city centre the quality of public realm has been increased a lot. Improvements have taken place also in many parks, and the carbon neutral housing is growing well. The city of London has developed a great London Congestion Charge, fighting traffic with the implementation of bus, cycling and pedestrian routes. On the other hand, the footprints of our cities need to decrease as soon as possible because is definitely not sustainable anymore. Good efforts in city centres are not going in parallel with efforts in suburbs, which they use to remain underdeveloped. Although London has showed an efficient traffic programme, the reduction on traffic level is a general failure: the UTF has not been able to create a real alternative to car, and also transit projects have not reached a satisfactory level. Within delivery, fiscal and legal framework we can say that UTF has produced equilibrium between good and bad outcomes. Positive has been the creation of new standards for consultative planning processes, quality housing design and layout, integral employment and services, green infrastructure and positive estate management. Both UTF and Government have supported strong city executives and committees able to develop co-ordinated planning and regeneration strategy. Many initiatives have increased the debate on urban design and they have increased the public education on it. Grants have speeded up development control decision making. Negative has been the absence of proactive development control and lack of planning and design leadership at Council Executives. Frameworks, visions and strategies continue to be developed without a solid public support and they use to not be related each other. Also the lack of adequate reform local 65

Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

government finance has caused the general failure by local authorities to deliver wider environmental improvements. 5.7 Conclusions As we have already mentioned, in ten years the UTF has worked well and it has produced several good efforts to improve the urban design theory and practice into British cities. Trying to sum up good/bad outcomes is not easy especially if we think that UTF has covered a wide range of issues concerned urban design: form physical environment, to laws and directives, to sustainable development, to social activities. All of them are strictly related to each others, so it seems obvious that if something takes many efforts and it gives positive outcomes, something else would suffer of lack of efforts and it would give negative outcomes. This situation has clearly appeared, for instance, when UTF have promoted vibrant projects and activities in the city centre but it has had not enough energies and money to do the same in suburbs. In my opinion, the main objective for the future will be the research of equilibrium between all these aspects. We should not afford something if we have to give up something else: a slow but overall growth would be kindly recommended rather than a quickly but small growth. Another important lesson that we can learn from what UTF has done, is that good design is necessary, thought not sufficient, condition for successful urban regeneration. Design, social, environmental and legal aspects have to be developed together in a holistic and comprehensive strategy, which answer to several visions. Nevertheless, we must admit that a good design has many positive effects: it generates a value premium, it reduces maintenance and costs, it creates more attractive locations and environments for occupiers and so on. Following a good design should be the first step of many others that any council and local authority should ensure. Another delicate aspect is the understanding of the complex social world of the city and its participatory governance. Promoting the myth of harmonious inner-city communities, or the urban idyll and rural idyll (Hoeskins & Tallon, 1994) is something far from the reality, which constant struggles over jobs, housing, public services and amenity. As I have already said in the previous chapters, this was the main criticism of New Urbanism which has often shown an attitude to imagine and design the cities in a contrived atmosphere, almost impossible to re-create. However, the urban idyll has also a double meaning. [..] the current form of the urban regeneration in contemporary Britain is discursively underpinned by the construction of a seductive “urban idyll” – an imagined geography instrumental in New Labour’s urban renaissance projects. (Johnstone, Whitehead, 2004). The imperative New Labour’s idea is to use the rural/urban idyll to promote and sell urban places as a marketing action. Form this point of view, urban idyll concerns also the idea of a vibrant city neighbourhood that emerged as central to the commodification of urban space and implicit in the UTF’s report. The risk is always to promote the return of the middle classes to the city to rebuild neighbourhoods and revive sociability, simultaneously inflating house prices and deepening social exclusion (the Victorian Glasgow is a good example). Social exclusion and gentrification are something really difficult to completely understand and they are even more difficult to solve. Nowadays a mixed community seems possible only if new policies will be able to find a solution against gentrification. New higher standards for social housing, new affordable houses, different size of apartments, presence of services and 66

The Urban Task Force

facilities, good quality of public realms, efficient public transport, good level of connectivity between the area and the city centre seems good issues to promote a social inclusion. Recently CABE (2009) and RIBA19 (2007) have argued for a return to minimum space standards for apartments and wider mix of unit sizes capable of accommodating families (Punter, 2011). An interesting survey promoted by Nationwide20 (May, 2008), has shown that the average flat size in UK is around 70 m2, which seems to be a good value compared with the other European values. I think that, more than reducing the size of flats and apartments, architects and urban planners should reconsider the design standards of the spaces we used to live in and make them more flexible to citizens wishes. According to new “modern” users, such as students, single man or woman, young couples, family, pensioners, elderly; architects and urban designer have to design dwellings that can be suitable and adaptable for everybody. And this aspect concerns flat distribution, interior design, location and so on. Further efforts should be spend in looking for the right comforts that any category of people need and, through them, start a new process of design. The new phenomenon of commercial and tourist gentrification or “studentification” or “financification” (Punter, 2011) can be seen under this view: if planners will follow their wishes and their needs the neighbourhoods will convert these kinds of gentrification in a positive boost which can produce sensible economical and social improvements. Many advantages have been made through key design manuals, which have been promoted by CABE, UTF and Government (one for all, By Design, CABE, 2000). Now, a bigger challenge is translating this huge theoretic effort of manuals, directives, policies into efficient local planning and development practice. Cities like Edinburgh and Nottingham have played well its role with a strong, consistent control and an effective policy/guidance frame which actively shapes the development. On the other hand, cities like Cardiff and Belfast have not showed any strong control or design framework because they were anxious to capture investments, if necessary also without significant amelioration. Reaching a remarkable 77% of housing developed on brownfield land in 2007 is a very good environmental outcome but it is not enough. Environment has many different categories that we need to take care. The recent promotion of the new Eco-Town initiative (CLG, 2008d) seems to show the right way to choose: green infrastructure strategies to integrate improved park management, wider open space protection, nature conservation and countryside access programmes as well as hydrological management. Urban renaissance cannot also forget that it has to persuade the implementation of sustainable development measures that deliver significant reductions in CO2 emission and footprint of cities. Another aspect to do not forget is that every policy, guidance, process or technique which has been done, it came from a constant research on best practice. In my opinion, for the future, the relationship between the world of education and the world of practice should be improved. Because, as I have already pointed out, benefits are for both: authorities can take advantage of efficient and innovative techniques and good examples making a good practice, and university and research sector can be stimulated and persuaded by a real involvement of what they are studying. According to this aspect Government and planning system should admit that any urban initiative needs to be continually updated, and which place can support the innovation in any 19 RIBA stands for Royal Institute for British Architects 20 The analysis is based on data from Nationwide’s mortgage offers over a four year period (2003 to 2006). For more information visit the website:


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

sector better than university? The concept of sustainable development has been well known in UTF’s work but it needs to be implemented more. By the way, this seems to be the good way to follow. UTF has showed the principles: design excellence, social wellbeing and environment framework. According to the famous diagram of sustainability we can easily recognize that each category is related to one of the three spheres: Economy, Society, and Environment. This is the proof that what UTF has done is correct and, also in the future, we have to follow this process because it allows having a general and wide view on the real sustainable development. All the topics that I have previously explained now are facing challenges made of economical cuts and lack of funds. Under this aspect, at the moment, all the good ideas, projects, solutions and efforts are stuck. It is doubtless that performing a better economy, for instance, would reduce levels of deprivation and help achieve wider social goals, but nowadays what is really possible and what is not affordable have to be recognized soon. The crisis has forced local authorities to dispose of their land assets in ways which maximize financial receipts. Also the recent Tax Increment Funding, a cash incentive to local authorities for every house built, in my opinion, it seems to go in the wrong direction. Indeed, the consequences of crisis in urban design can be summarized in two: the effective dilution of money for new urban projects and policies, and the reduction of the vision in urban design to a mediocrity level. But especially today, where projects and initiatives are few, planning system absolutely cannot deliver the housing market into the hands of speculators. Design quality have to remain a central objective: it is better to spend all grants on few really good projects rather than let our country become populated by several endless sprawl and senseless tower-in-the-park. (Porta & Romice, 2010) Unfortunately, all these policies covered a long term view (at least 25 years) and nobody really knows how something which you are doing now is going to work ten or more years later. It is clear that mistakes and wrong forecasts are possible, but developers should not give up to take a long term view on cities. Obviously, time dose not have to be wasted, but at the same all of us have to be patient if we really want to see tangible improvements.

“Senseless tower-in-the-park” in Pruitt-Igoe, St. Louis Missouri

“Endless sprawl” in Levittown, Pennsylvania

Everybody knows that urban design works with cities, but less people understand that cities are something that continue to change, because the city is an human activity and it evolves parallel to humanity. It seems obvious that better our cities can face the changes and better our living will be. Facing changes has always been the main aim of the sustainable development, and 68

The Urban Task Force

now cities must do the same. How a regeneration project can be part of this evolution of our cities? Preserving our cities competitive, liveable and sustainable means to change an urban area when it has finished its role: this is something really indispensable. Planners and urban designers have to be able to recognise rapidly when an area needs to be reconverted and act even quirkier. All regeneration projects should be well-designed, compact, connected, sustainable, but, above all, they should be adaptable to change. Again, the reference to cities as biological organisms it comes out. A city like a human rises, lives, grows and dies. Thinking that our house, our park, our shopping mall, our school and even our city is going to live forever, means that we would be just hypocrites. The awareness that everything has an end has to be shared by everyone. New world citizen purpose should be to live until this end as better as possible and without leave any trace. People are going to reach a real sustainability when next generations will not find any trace of previous generations. About that, Dario Fo, the Italian 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature winner, recently argued that after this period of exaggerated economical and industrial growth, now the crisis is forcing us to change our way to live. Analyzing the human evolution, he suggests that maybe it is the right occasion to revert to primitives (Fo, 2011). Should we follow his advice?


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living



Following UTF advice

After the Urban Task Force’s call for innovation in urban design of the 1999, many other institutions has followed its advice and they have proposed other important contributions which have promoted and supported a good level of urban design. The decade after the UFT, with several initiatives, actions, projects concerned urban design, has demonstrated how important and necessary was the UTF’s work. Form all of them I have chosen to spend just a few words of the By Design manual by CABE (2000) and the Urban Design Compendium (2000) because I think they are in direct connection with the UTF’s purposes in terms of aims, processes, methodologies. 6.1 By design, 2000 CABE took the directives of the Governments, which were [..] good design should be the aim of those involved in the development process and should be encouraged everywhere (Planning Policy Guidance Note I, General Policy and Principles), to promote higher standards in urban design. By Design has been drawn up around three main principles:  Promote good design: good design is important everywhere, not least in helping to bring rundown, neglected places back to life.  Improve good planning consciousness at every level: planning system has a key role to play in delivering better design, the creation of successful places depends on the skills of designers and the vision and commitment of those who employ them.  Promote an area-based approach: no two places are identical and there is no such thing as a blueprint for good design. Good design always arises from a thorough and caring understanding of place and context. Rather than a planning manual or a guide, By Design is a guidance in recent urban theories of urban design which aims to stimulate thinking about urban design, not to tell the reader how to design (By Design, 2000). And this makes sense if we think that the guidance’s main audience is composed by officers and councillors in local authorities who guide and control the development


by design

Urban design in the planning system: towards better practice

By Design, 2000


Following UTF advice


system. However, By Design concerns all aspects of the built environment at every scale: buildings, public realms, landscape, transports… Four years after By Design, CABE published a new important publication such as Creating Successful Masterplans21, which its purpose was to cover the lack of a practical advice that By Design had. 6.2 Urban Design Compendium, 2000


$0.1& /%*6. 2

Urban Design Compendium 1, 2000 Urban Design Compendium has been published in 2000 by the English


Urban Design Compendium 2 - Delivering quality places, 2000

Partnership22 and the Housing Corporation23. Aim of the Compendium were similar to the By Design aims’: promote higher standards in urban design and provide sound, practical advice to help implement the Government’s commitment to good design, as set out in Planning Policy Statement Note 3: Housing (2000). The document is divided in two parts: the first part shows a big variety of examples, projects and designed actions to reach a high level of design. The second part is a more theoretical, and it provides detailed guidance on how overcome key barriers in the design process which currently impede delivery of quality places. What is really important to underline here for my research is that the Compendium, in its first part, it can be considered probably the first manual in UK which shows a step by step methodology in designing a regeneration project of neighbourhoods. This methodology, according to the Plot Based Urbanism has shaped my regeneration project of Sighthill, Glasgow. BOX 11 - The Compendium design process A. Appreciating the context 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

LOCAL COMMUNITY: understanding the social dynamics PLACE: defining the area NATURAL RESOURCES: working with elements CONNECTIONS: understanding the existing access and linkages VISION: defining wishes

B. Creating the Urban Structure 6. MOVEMENT FRAMEWORK: defining the walkable neighbourhood, improving the existing street network 7. MIXING USES: designing nodes, centres, edges

21 Creating Successful Masterplans: a guide for clients, 2004. CABE 22 English Partnerships is the national regeneration agency, supporting high quality sustainable growth in England. It is a non-departmental public body and their sponsor government department is Communities and Local Government (CLG). English Partnerships became part of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) the 1st December 2008, the new national housing and regeneration agency for England. (from 23 The Housing Corporation regulates Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) in England and invests in the new housing that they provide. It was established by the Housing Act 1964. On 1 December 2008, its functions were transferred to two new organizations, the Homes and Communities Agency and the Tenant Services Authority.


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

8. DENSITY, FACILITIES AND FORM: defining new values of density 9. ENERGY AND RESOURCE EFFICIENCY: practicing solar design. Taking advantage of water recycle and wind 10. LANDSCAPE: defining green connections, working on the public realm 11. LANDMARKS, VISTAS AND FOCAL POINTS: emphasising the hierarchy of places, promoting vistas and focal points 12. BLOCKS: redefining block size, designing street fronts 13. PARCELS AND PLOTS: keeping plots small and narrow C. Making the connections 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

WALKING: designing the pedestrian environment CYCLING: designing the cyclist environment PUBLIC TRANSPORT: defining public transport catchment and provision STREET AND TRAFFIC: designing street type an layout PARKING AND SERVICING: providing adequate parking standards UTILITIES INFRASTRUCTURE: providing services

D. Detailing the place 20. POSITIVE OUTDOOR SPACE: providing accessibility/ connectivity through urban spaces 21. ANIMATING THE EDGE: providing a health and active neighbourhood community 22. BUILDING SIZE AND SCALE: designing building depth, corners, courts 23. BUILDING FOR CHANGE: ensuring mixed use buildings and with high level of adaptability and re-use 24. A THRIVING PUBLIC REALM: stimulating senses within new public realm areas 25. SAFETY AND SENSE OF SAFETY: providing crime prevention

6.3 Some further considerations As I already said, By Design and Urban Design Compendium are just two of many other documents published in this very important decade for urban design (for instance also the Manual of Streets24 deserves to be mentioned). The impacts of all of them are tested today, but outcomes seem to be more than positive. The level of urban design skills is undoubtedly increasing. The number of students receiving urban design education has risen steadily over the last past 20 years, and short course, summer schools and conferences have done much to cultivate a broad appreciation of urban design principles. (UDC, 2011) Even in practical terms many projects have been carried on successfully: Greenwich Millennium Village, Hammarby Sjรถstad (Sweden), Newhall are all projects generated from an holistic planning process, which is the same one promoted by the new Urban Design theories. They all combined the best of the past (urban form and character) with the best of the present (technology and sustainability). A greater understanding of how community life is influenced by the way in which places are designed and managed has became quite a common thought. Well designed and well managed spaces attract the community but they can also persuade the community to promote social cohesion and interaction: more better this chain works, more better cities are. 24 Manual of Streets, 2007, CLG and Department for Transport,


Following UTF advice

However, in my opinion, there is still another important gap to overtake. And it is the awareness that urban design can and should be as much popular as possible. With “popular� I mean that it does not have to be just an issue for developers or architects, but it has to be shared by everyone who is interested in. Although my experience in UD is still very limited, I found exceptionally relevant the fact at every university student who wants to do a Master in Urban Design at the University of Strathclyde of Glasgow is allowed to do it aside from his previous education level, and recent results are confirming that everyone can easily understand and learn who to become good urban designer. I think that this is the starting point from where the new awareness of Urban Design have to be redesigned as a new super-democratic subject made for people and by people. 6.4 Introducing the project Before introducing the project of urban regeneration of Sighthill it is important to understand the background form where project has been developed. Two shapes are equally important in this story: one is GHA, the Glasgow Housing Association, and the other is the Plot-Based Urbanism developed by the Urban Design Studies Unit of the University of Strathclyde of Glasgow. Of course, these two entities have two completely different roles: GHA is the main owner of the Sighthill area and it has shown during last years a particularly attention to area, looking for some ideas and projects that can guide a real and effective process of regeneration. On the other hand, the Plot-Based Urbanism represents the methodology which has shaped my projects. It can be considered the sum of rules and directives that, according to the Urban Design Compendium, has helped me to develop the masterplan. The relationship between them has persuaded me to study, analyze, and design a new Sighthill regeneration project. Before deeply describe the project I would like to spend a few words on GHA and Plot-Based Urbanism. 6.5 The UK Housing Associations The social housing sector has always been a strong player in British housing provision. But history shows that Scottish housing situation has been slightly different from the rest of UK. Scotland had high proportion of tenement properties, high proportion of housing owned by public authorities, high problems of poor-quality tenement (Cullingworth, Nadine, 2011). Providing adequate condition for the population, Scottish policies for council housing proposed lower council rents than everywhere else in UK. Form this scenario emerged a low demand for private housing related to a high demand for council housing. In the ‘60s a massive public housebuilding programme with the highest proportion of public-sector housing started: Glasgow City Council (GCC) became the largest public sector landlord in Scotland. From 1979 to 1997, according to the tremendous demographic crisis, GCC began a slow process of reduction of the public housing stock. In 1988 the Scottish Homes (SH) has established to cope between the council and the local government. SH tired to promote a new policy made of more rehabilitation of the old housing stock instead of promote new interventions of clearance and demolition. 73

Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

At the end of the 1980s, the role of local authorities has weakened in the whole UK, while housing association were emerging as a new substantial part of the social rented sector. Government recognized that simply investing in the housing was not enough: a new civic engagement and community self-help was necessary. The huge housing stock being transferred out of the public sector (local authority) and into the voluntary sector (housing association) (McKee, 2007). According to Romice (Integrated Neighbourhood Development – a European perspective, 2005) three factors have influenced the local authorities decline:  social housing housed poorer household, retired people and ethnic minority groups (lower mobility than the average)  27% of the local authorities’ housing stock has been sold to individual tenants, less desirable housing remained to public ownership  Government policies chose to divert the capital to housing associations for new build, leaving local authorities with insufficient capital to renovate the existing stock. Scotland, and Glasgow, understood this process later than the rest of the UK, and just at the beginning of the 21st century also Scotland followed what England did. 6.6 Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) In April 2002, 58 % of those tenants who voted in the ballot voted “yes” for transfer. Consequently, the Entire Housing Stock of Glasgow City Council was transferred in 2003 to the newly created Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) – now Britain ‘s largest social landlord (McKee, 2007). GHA is a registered Scottish charity that officially assumed ownership of the 82.000 council homes in Glasgow on March 2003. The association is founded around the four R principles: repairs, rents, rights and regeneration (Glasgow City Council 2001, Glasgow Housing Association 2003).

Glasgow Housing Association - logo

BOX 12 - General aims of GHA  Sustainable homes and strong communities: the right stock in the right place within stable, safe and supportive communities  Community ownership: stock progressively managed and owned by the communities in which it is located, made up of tenants and owners alike  Efficient and effective housing organisations: modern organisations which are community-led and controlled and supported by competent management  Customer-focused services: placing customers at the centre of all activity and providing services responsive to customer needs and aspirations  Effective business management: applying sound business and management discipline to the use of public and community resources  Committed, motivated and competent staff: providing energy, management and leadership through well-trained, professional staff (Design Guide, 2006)


Following UTF advice

When the 80,000 houses were transferred, it was essential that GHA produced a coherent approach to asset management. The Design Guide, published in 2006 summarized the housing stock situation of GHA and the future policies of the association. GHA divided to house stock in four categories: Core stock (housing assessed as having a long term future), stock for Future Review (housing having a short-to-medium-term life requiring holding investment), stock for Demolition or Disposal (housing assessed as having no long-term future and passed for demolition or disposal), Regeneration Project (housing required further assessment to determinate the appropriate investment). After that the housing stock has been divided in sub-categories: Cottage houses, Tenemental houses, Deck Access houses or flat, Multi-story flats. Form this quick internal survey emerged clear some relevant aspects. Cottage house were mostly good with a long-term future. Tenemental flats required some internal modernisation and mostly of them have to reach higher standard in terms of access, security, cartilage‌ Deck Access houses or flats internally were good but common and access areas required serious work. The most problematic category which emerged form the survey was undoubtedly the Multi-storey flats. As I already mentioned in the previous chapter, this was a very predominant built form in Glasgow form the ‘60s. GHA with the transfer owned 230 high-rise blocks providing 23.000 social rented flats (Design Guide, 2006). Although forms of construction and internal layout are slightly different, all failed as far as security and ambience of common areas are concerned. Even today the future of all of them is totally uncertain. Owner-occupiers are less than 100 and they are dispersed throughout the whole Multi story flat stock. Some high-rise have been already demolished and some are going to be demolish in the next years. For a minority of them GHA is trying to propose a different future, retaining them and building around of them a new vibrant neighbourhood. The project of Sighthill, which will be shown in the next pages, aims exactly to this solution.

Red Road flats, Glasgow, the tallest dwellings in Europe in 1967, from


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

6.7 Plot-Based Urbanism Plot-Based Urbanism (PBU) is an interesting mix between the old theories of planning and the aims of recent movements such as Place Making, Urban Design, Environmentalism… I think that PBU, rather than a theory is can be considered a process of planning. Plot-Based Urbanism comes form the analysis of the city and the landscape around it. Porta and Romice have recently argued that PBU is the answer of a new time-conscious approach in urbanism which today is required, and PBU emerges as a manifestation of evolution through time. The fundamental base of the PBU is the awareness that each place that we realize pleasant is often a self-organization urban space. [..] Most lively and successful parts of our cities are those less planned, which means – by definition – more complex (Porta, Romice, 2011). Medieval lanes, Renaissance burghs, Baroque squares, Parisian avenues and boulevards are some of the places that people love. All of them, rather than an action of planning are the results of an evolution in time, made of several adaptations and transformations. [..] building the city today could mean the wish to find again, perhaps with different forms, the qualities of proximity, mixture and the unexpected, i.e. a public space accessible to all, a variety of mixed activities, a built-up area that keeps adapting and transforming itself in unplanned neighbourhoods. (Samuels, Panerai, Castex, & Depaule, 2004, p. 159).

PBU is the process which gives guidelines and principles for planning using the urban codes of the past. It is in fact that kind of planning practice, heavily based on the work of surveyors acting under the commission of land holders (Slater, 1988) (Conzen, 1988), that made it possible for those transformations to occur and keep happening that reshaped a planned fabric into a rich, diverse and seemingly “natural” built environment. (Porta, Romice, 2011). Today, designing urban projects in Glasgow through the PBU, it seems even more obvious than elsewhere, because PBU perfectly reflects The Scottish Feuing System25 used by surveyors especially in the Victorian Age which has shaped the whole city of Glasgow. Glasgow, with its gridded layout shaped in the 19th century, even after two centuries it still performs very well. To conclude, PBU interprets the old Feuing System, it keeps the main principals of the planning system of the compact city of the 19th century, and it proposes a new approach for the modern city. Fundamental aspect of the PBU is the plot, which shapes the spatial structure of ordinary urban fabrics. It is the juxtaposition and the mix of different kinds of plots (per dimensions, geometry, size) in a certain way (which it can be learned from history) that forms every urban block (Porta, Romice, 2011). However, Plot Based Urbanism concerns other entities which can be considered components of the PBU. The box below summarized them. 25 The SFS (Scottish Feuing System) derived from the feudal system and it has been abolished just twelve years ago because it was too difficult for public authorities to control the several levels of sub-concession the system had triggered. (Abolition of Feudal Tenure, Parliamentary Act, 2000) The SFS is based on an strict hierarchy of different shapes: the Landlord (who owns the land for heritage), the new Landowner (feuar/superior who buys the land), the Builder (who builds the buildings), the Users (the tenant who has to pay Feu duties). The feuing plan was commissioned by the landowner to a planner, an architect or a surveyor. It is a masterplan representing the layout of the new development, the shape of the blocks, the subdivision of these into independent plots, and building alignments. (Giordano, Rispoli, 2011).


Following UTF advice

BOX 13 - Components of the Plot- Based Urbanism PLOT. A PLOT is a fenced portion of land that is entirely accessible from the public space. Though PLOT and property may coincide, and very often do, what defines a PLOT is accessibility, not property. A result of this definition is that large properties may be split into small PLOTS without necessarily subdividing the property of the land. In all such cases, PLOTS are to be interpreted as the ultimate units of development. STREET. A STREET is a mostly open space that is publicly accessed and establishes a functional, visual and spatial link with private domains, i.e. PLOTS, by which it is defined. Cities exist and evolve across centuries, through endless changes of different magnitude happening at different pace. STREETS tend to be the most permanent elements of all, imposing conditions to the fabric that sits on them. STREETS are highly loaded with character and changing in type, meaning and value whilst penetrating the city. When allowed, they establish a functional and formal relationship with such fabric in terms of fundamental factors like density, land-use, size and geometry and accessibility of PLOTS. Such relationships are mainly the product of the evolution of the fabric in time, being selected according to local conditions including environmental, cultural, technical and financial. The key-factor that constitutes the link between STREET and PLOTS is CENTRALITY. CENTRALITY. CENTRALITY is here intended as a particular character attached to streets by their geometry (i.e. length) and topology (i.e. the way they are connected to each other). Work conducted in UDSU (Porta, Crucitti, & Latora, 2006) (Porta, Latora, Wang, & Scellato, 2009) as well as elsewhere (Hillier & Hanson, 1984) (Hillier, 1996) has led to mapping and modelling street CENTRALITY in a reliable and scientifically grounded way. Subsequent work is studying the formal relationships between streets and frontages to understand patterns of change of the latter in relation to change in the former. Studies in this line of research are beginning raising evidence on these keyrelationship and, though there is a long way to go before these factors are sufficiently

Plot-Based Urbanism, author’s elaboration


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

understood in detail, research is nonetheless firmly settled in its discipline, i.e. urban morphology, and therefore likely to develop relatively quickly. STREET FRONT. STREET FRONTS are the formation of PLOTS facing on a STREET. They are the key components of urban BLOCKS, yet their relation to STREETS is, in history, more direct and important. If a STREET FRONT can adapt to a STREET’s character over time it makes it more versatile; if on the other hand it is linked to a whole BLOCK, its capacity to change and adapt is restricted, its lifespan shortened, with implications on character and quality of life. STREET FRONTS are made of PLOTS; and yet again, PLOTS have followed in time markets and density adapting in size to the nature of the STREET, which eventually is heavily influenced by its CENTRALITY. BLOCK. An urban BLOCK is a mainly built-up urban area defined on its borders by STREETS, whose components are STREET FRONTS. We intend the urban BLOCK as a complex rather than a uniform element. Its character may vary a lot on each STREET FRONT depending on the type of STREETS it faces upon. An ordinary urban BLOCK exhibits four STREET FRONTS, because it normally sits on four STREETS. Because STREETS generally possess different “importance” (main, local, secondary...) depending on their CENTRALITY, the STREET FRONTS constituting an urban BLOCK reflect such diversity. This is due, again, by the evolutionary character of the ordinary urban fabric: its formation is led by STREETS developing in time from the most to the less central, a process which is accompanied by the subdivision of adjacent land in PLOTS and therefore the constructions of STREET FRONTS. Urban BLOCKS are the result of this stepped process, not its constituent unit: they are formed by the completion of this cycle of formation when it reaches the point where four STREETS close up in a loop and their STREET FRONTS get consequently developed. Planning strategies, especially those related with coding, should acknowledge this peculiar process by assuming that the unit of analysis and coding is the STREET FRONT, rather than the BLOCK.

The Urban Block, author’s elaboration


Following UTF advice

According to Porta and Romice, the core of the PBU is that city requires diversity and adaptability to support urban life. A plot-based approach allows to introduce within the project area a strong hierarchy of urban principles but at the same time it allows to produce a huge variety of solutions. The PBU makes a urban structure which works well, and then it leaves to architects and planners the possibility to introduce their ideas, styles and so on. Plot-Based Urbanism is here advocated as an appropriate, responsive and sustainable form of development, because it is versatile and capable of minimising and spreading risk in conditions of adverse economies, it is conducive to informal participation, capacity building development of local capital, it has proven to be the most resilient form of urban development in time, and it is respectful to local character. (Porta, Romice, 2011)

The Street Front, author’s elaboration

Accessibility to services and facilities is another fundamental aspect promoted by the Plot-Based Urbanism. Designing an area in the city, main efforts should be spent in improving accessibility. Every plots and blocks of a new regeneration project has to be designed with the higher level of accessibility. The Pedshed Analysis and the Accessibility to Land Uses (Porta & Romice. 2010) are two very simple analysis which give very clear and efficient results: - The Pedshed Analysis diagram allow to see at a glance the area of the study which can be reached 200m and 400m intervals: the higher the percentage of colour, the higher the permeability of the study area. - The Accessibility to Land Uses diagram allow to see at a glance how higher the connectivity is and how higher the diversity index of land uses is: more different colours there are, more the area has an higher diversity index.


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

The analysis of George Square, city centre of Glasgow: the Pedshed Analysis (left) and the Accessibility to Land Uses (right), author’s elaboration

These two diagrams become more interesting if we use them analysing the current and the proposed situation: the results can show better or worst accessibility with or without the new project. 400m is another fundamental aspect proposed by the Urban Design Compendium. It represents the reachable area of a pedestrian in 5 minutes: it is now clear that a higher accessibility means a more pedestrian friendly area, and more pedestrian friendly areas mean less automobile dependence and traffic congestion in cities. Also the diversity index of land uses is something crucial in a new regeneration project. If we compare two different analysis, one made on a suburb area (mostly residential) and the other made on a city centre (mixed use) are we can easily admit that the diversity index is higher in the city centre. In order to support neighbourhood it is essential to have a mix of pedestrian generators, including housing and retail along with commercial and industrial workplaces. A mix of building typology increases public transport 400/800 m radius theory, patronage, it encourages permeability of the street diagram proposed by Richard Roger network, it reduces travelling time in reaching key facilities. Following what Porta & Romice said, connectivity and accessibility can be explain with another fundamental instrument: the GIS (Geographic Information System). From the GIS we can run the MCA (Multiple Centrality Assessment) which models a street network of the study area. This technique is a plain application of the analysis of complex system in nature, society or technology to phenomena characterized by spatial embedding. To sum up, the software allows mapping centrality in urban streets, understanding what streets are more central and what are less central depending only on their geometry and the way they are connected with each other within the system. But what does it mean exactly? The software’s outcome is a map of streets (street network made of lines)


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where streets are coloured-coded from blue (low centrality, i.e. cul de sac) to red (high centrality, i.e. main street). In general terms we can say that centrality correlates with the land-use intensity in terms of both population and employment which impacts on real-estate values and on the form of the street fronts. With the diagrams of closeness/betweeness/ straightness we can easily understand which streets of a city are “more important” than others and which streets are “more busy” than others. Also MCA gives the best outcomes if we can compare the current and the proposed situation. With this instrument outcomes have enormous potentialities: we can understand if the project change or not the global centrality of the whole city, if the streets that we are going to design will be suitable for retail of not, if our regeneration project is going to be pedestrian friendly or not, if transit system should be modify or not and so on. According to the Local Transect and Smart Code system (Duany, 2003) streets design has to change as well as building design. To promote a healthy city and a peaceful environment, streets have to be design in a hierarchy form the main to the tertiary. The differences between grades of street (zones) are explained in the transect diagram. This zoning system replaces conventional separated-use zoning systems that have encouraged a car-dependent culture and land-consuming sprawl. The six Transect Zones instead provide the basis for real neighbourhood structure, which requires walkable streets, mixed use, transportation options, and housing diversity. The T zones vary by the ratio and level of intensity of their natural, built, and social components. They may be coordinated to all scales of planning, from the region through the community scale down to the individual lot and building, but the new zoning itself is applied at the community (municipal) scale. The T-zones are intended to be balanced within a neighbourhood structure based on pedestrian sheds (walksheds), so that even T-3 residents may walk to different habitats, such as a main street, civic space, or agrarian land. The following table lays out the relationship of the region and community to the Transect Zones in the model SmartCode. (from Also hierarchy of public transport follows this diagram: public transport should vary from high to low level according to the Zones as well as the amount of

The Transect Zone, diagram proposed by Andres Duany, 2003


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

traffic should do. In these terms it is crucial to understand that closing a street near the Urban Core Zone produce a shift of traffic within the Urban Centre Zone. If the Urban Centre Zone is well designed, with a strong grid pattern, the traffic should be well absorbed, if not, problems of congestion would be even worst than before. All these aspects sustain and promote a sustainable city and a sustainable living according to a tolerable system of traffic. Even the most environmental friendly and pedestrian friendly block of a city if it is not located in the right position, with good links with the other areas of the city, near shops and leisure facilities, with high level of accessibility through the street network it can not be considered sustainable at all. This was the problem that the Garden city and the tower in the park have shown us: even if the level of green areas were high and the quality of buildings was good, an isolated-low density area can not be considered sustainable. Connectivity and accessibility are two parameters that have to discriminate a good or a bad project and the inner city allows to naturally have high level of both. Promoting inner city regeneration and the infill suburban projects seem to be the only efficient challenges to face for a more sustainable future of our cities.

Map of the closeness centrality of the whole city of Glasgow


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Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living



The Project

7.1 Sighthill’s story The Sighthill area is located north of the Motorway M8, designed and realized in the ‘60s. Although its proximity to the City Centre (about 1500m from George Square), the area has never been taken into account for developments until the 1960s. Before that, the area of Sighthill has always been empty except for the period that goes form 1890s to 1950s when the United Alkali Company’s St.Rollox Chemical Works, founded by Charles Tennant and at one time the largest chemical manufacturer in the world, used the area to dump waste chemicals (particularly Hydrogen sulfide, a byproduct of the Leblanc process) until its closure in 1964. Historical maps show that the Chemical Works was located on the north bank of the Monkland Canal, immediately east of Port Dundas,

St Rollox Chemical Works, 1930 - Mitchell Library Archive


The Project

where the Pinkston neighbourhood of Sighthill will be later located. With the construction of the M8 and the new social housing project, the Chemical Works moved Easter and many railway lines were dismantled. From 1964 to 1969 the Glasgow Corporation Housing Department developed the site with 10 high-rise towers each of them of 19 storey, seven 5-storey mainsonette blocks and five rows of tenements. The Sighthill housing scheme was designed by Crudens Ltd: in few years a high residential neighbourhood density was provided. The area was covered by two small neighbourhoods: one was Fountainwell (north) and the other was Pinkston (south). Some facilities was added later such as a post office, two primary schools, a pub, a community centre, a youth centre, a nursery school, few shops and recently a police station. However, in ‘70s the scheme appeared totally unattractive and failed to satisfy the basic needs of the residents. Because of its low occupancy rate, Sighthill was selected in the late 1990s, along with nearby Red Road, as a temporary housing location for refugees and asylum seekers. As a result, Sighthill had one of the most diverse ethnic makeup’s in Scotland, but on the other hand demand became even lower. In 2001, a spate of racially-motivated attacks culminated in the fatal stabbing of Iranian refuge Firsat Dag at the Rainbow Bridge over the M8 into Sighthill Park. He had lived in Sighthill for only 2 weeks (BBC news, 8 August, 2001 and 14 December 2001). The death of Firsat Dag highlighted the problems of housing so many refugees and asylum seekers in one area and the strain put on the community by the new arrivals. After the social housing stock transfer of the 2003, GHA, which was the main owner of the buildings in the area (especially the high-rise), decided to demolish the whole area of Fountainwell. From July 2008 to November 2009 the upper area of Sighthill was totally cleared off. The future of the five remaining Pinkston blocks has been undecided until 2009. After a campaign by local residents, GHA decided that at least two of the Pinkston blocks will be retained and refurbished by them in the long-term, with three being demolished or sold to private developers. A GHA spokeswoman said the plan would see the blocks at 31/35 and 3/5 Pinkston renovated. The three double multi-storey blocks - at 16/18, 17/19 and 32/34 Pinkston Drive - would be either demolished or “disposed of”. This means they will no longer be used for social housing. The 546 GHA tenants will be able to choose where they are rehoused, while GHA will hold discussions with the nine owners affected. Jim Sneddon, GHA’s executive director of regeneration, said: “We recognize the great sense of community in Pinkston. People are at the heart of what we do and these plans show we mean what we say.” The Glaswegian, Jun 4yh 2009, Frank Hurley

Historical phases of Sighthill, diagram proposed by the students of the Urban Design Studio, University of Strathclyde of Glasgow


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

GHA, has always been interested to find a solution of the Sighthill Area. In 2006 the association asked the CRGP architects and surveyors to produce a new urban regeneration plan for Sighthill: the proposal has been presented a year later. Although the project was composed by a new tenemental neighbourhood (instead of towers) with mixed use buildings and a new clear street hierarchy, the project overestimated resources and aims of GHA (more than 1.200 units have been planned, while 600/700 were required) and the financial crisis of the 2000s definitely aborted the proposal. Today any new proposal has to cope with the different owners of the site (in different percentages) which are Glasgow City Council, City Property and GHA.

Masterplan designed by CRGP architects and surveyors, 2006, from a GHA Report


The Project

7.2 The area Sighthill is surrounded by street and infrastructures, which make the area disconnected to other urban centres. The area is boarded to East by the Springburn Bypass Road, to South by the Motorway M8, to West by the Glasgow to Edinburgh via Falkirk line running into Queen Street Station, to North by the Sighthill Cemetery. A big urban park (more than 12 hectares) is located in the lower park of the area, between the Pinkston neighbourhood and the motorway. The park is now perceived by inhabitants unsafe and dangerous. The main vehicular connection with the city centre is the Springburn Bypass Road, however also the Pinkston Road and Fountainwell Road are important and they also host the bus line with several stops. Pedestrians suffer of a huge lack of connectivity between the neighbourhood and the city centre: there is just one narrow pedestrian bridge which across the M8 (the Rainbow bridge). Although Sighthill’s future is undecided, some new important development plans have been designed for the areas close to it.

Aerial view of Sighthill today, diagram proposed by the author


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

The new Paddle Sports Centre has been recently approved and works will start soon. This new Leisure Centre for canoeing will attract many people and visitors from all over the Scotland. The area covered on the Port Dundas Distillery probably will be occupied by several new facilities such as the Craighall Business Park, M8 Food Park, a new Green Economy Area, some student residences, and a research and development area. To West of Port Dundas, in an area called Speirs Locks, a big new Arts Campus will be developed in the next years in relationship with the renovation of Renfrew Street as a new Arts Avenue. The GCC is now providing spaces for many creative industries such as the National Theatre of Scotland, the RSAMD, the Scottish Opera, the Tollhouse Studies, the Glue Factory Artists Studio, the GMTA Theatre co., Whiskey Bond Sculpture Studios, the Sculpture Garden‌ All these planned interventions demonstrate that interests and appeal on the North area of Glasgow are rapidly increasing. Today, Sighthill has definitely to take advantage of these new opportunities to promote and sustain a vibrant, healthy and democratic development of the neighbourhood.

Speirs Locks emerging Creative Campus (left) and Established Arts Organisations around Renfrew Street (Right), pictures form Establishing Glasgow’s Arts Quarter, Wayfinding Design Concept Strategy, 7N Architects, 2010

The new Paddle Sport Centre is proposed by the Galsgow Canal Regeneration Partnership around the Forth and CLyde Canal. The project will be developed by British Waterways and Glasgow City Council Development and Regeneration Services working in partnership together, picture from a GCC report


The Project

7.3 The methodology The UDSU (Urban Design Studies Unit) of the University of Strathclyde of Glasgow, have recently designed a “step by step” brief to allow students to design coherent masterplans. The design process which follows the one suggested by the Urban Design Compendium (see Box 11) is spitted in four phases,: BOX 14 - Delivering a regeneration project: the process Urban Design Studies Unit, University of Strathclyde of Glasgow - logo

1. Case analysis. You students will work in groups on the study area as part of a larger urban sector, getting to know intimately this area, its links potentials and pitfalls; 2. Urban Design Strategy. You will propose a Strategic Plan and a Concept Plan, together forming the Urban Design Strategy, for the improvement of this area envisaging actions and projects that deal with services, mobility, housing, and public realm provision; 3. Street front analysis and coding. You will be requested to work out a complete morphological analysis of two street fronts that are assigned by staff. The “front analysis” is carried out by drawing each street front in two boards and by the quantitative analysis of morphological aspects as they appear on drawing. Once all cases have been worked out and all data is available, students and staff derive from that a synthetic Local Urban Code. 4. Masterplanning and place design. You are led to the production of a Masterplan for sub-areas of the study area. You will learn how to take action for subdivision of large blocks, a correct management of density as related to transport and land use, how to design safe and liveable streets and how to interpret the existent urban fabric of public and private buildings in relation to streets, land uses, density and transport. Finally, you will be asked to deepen your Masterplan. (Porta, Romice, 2011)

The project for Sighthill, that I have designed, follows this process. Although some parts have been deleted or reduced for reasons of space and time. For example, for the case analysis I have decided to concentrate my attention on few but relevant aspects such as Pedshed Analysis, Solar Analysis or Density Analysis. Also the urban design strategy has been reduced: it will show the SWOT analysis, the concept plan and some other diagrams. Street Front Analysis and Coding will be represented just with the final board of the LUC, but some more diagrams and schemes will be added in representing the different cases. The Foundation Masterplan will be drawn as usual as the Final Masterplan. I have also tried to provide a series of schematic sketches for better understand the process between the definition of the LUC and its application on the final masterplan, which, in my opinion, it has to be considered the core of the whole project. Indeed, aim of the project is showing the success of the Plot-Based Urbanism approach in shaping modern cities, rather than showing a contrived and fancy version of the new neighbourhood of Sighthill.


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

7.4 The analysis According to Porta and Romice, the analysis phase should be split in 5 different categorises: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Drawing the existing city History and stories Planning framework Experiencing and comparing place Network analysis of streets

As I already said, in this project I preferred to chose some part of the whole analysis which it has been done. The project starts with an overall analysis of the city of Glasgow in terms of density, green network and street network, where Sighthill emerge as an important area of the whole city. After that, there is a historical part centred on Sighthill with its past developments and its further opportunities. Then there are several maps according solar analysis (produced using MatLab software) and urban morphology (Pedshed, Accessibility to Land Uses, Block Density, Street Desnity...) which compare the current situation with the proposal. Other information have been gathered about the network analysis in terms of closeness, betweeness, straightness, through the MCA.


The Project


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


The Project


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

7.5 The strategy The overall scope of the strategic phase is the generation of strategic programmes for the development and management of transformation in the study area within its immediate territorial context. The Urban Design Strategy is composed of two “packages” of activity: the Strategic Plan and the Concept Plan. The Strategic Plan is aimed at summarising the factors currently shaping the study area’s life and spatial configuration, how they are likely to drive it to in the next future, to what extent this is desirable and what can we do, in terms of policies, to shift it towards a more desirable future. That implies developing a vision for the study area in the next 20 years. The Concept Plan is aimed at detailing the spatial policies identified in the Strategic Plan as beneficial in achieving a better future for the study area. In particular it defines what form they will take spatially, how will they be linked with each other and with the territory to improve its use and better its performance. This is a very structured activity that encompasses specific areas of intervention, namely understanding the role of urban nodes, of streets, the density of the built stock and finally the ecological network of open natural urban areas. This is done through a two steps process that includes firstly an interpretation of the study area’s current state, and secondly one of a proposed state that portrays the study area in the future. BOX 15 - Strategic Plan and Concept Plan Strategic Plan: - Composite SWOT - Listing ambitions - Specify activities - Organizing the Action Plan - Selecting stakeholders. - Produce a Vision Statement Concept Plan: - Hierarchy of nodes - Hierarchy of streets and public transport - Densities. - Ecological network

For the project of Sighthill, I choose to draw the Concept Plan (current and proposed), but to not define a clear Strategic Plan (except for the SWOT analysis) because the main strategic directives came directly form the aims and purposes of GHA. The association objectives’ are synthesized below:  Sighthill needs about 700-800 new residential units, which means a higher value of density.  On Sighthill Park is not possible to build except for something of real community interest like theatres, cinemas, gyms, swimming pools…  Use of the existing street network is kindly recommended, because of lack of funds to build new streets (with a new street the Council or the association has to provide all services they need like water, gas,


The Project

energy…)  The two high-rise have to be restored and included into the new neighbourhood structure.  All the buildings have to be preserved except for the derelict ones.  A new mixed community and new mixed use buildings are kindly recommended.  Quality of the public realm has to be high.  The project has to provide a community surveillance and a sense of safety.  Connections between the city centre and Sighthill have to be improved.


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


The Project


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


The Project

7.6 Street front analysis and coding The Local Urban Code (LUC) is considered the final outcome of a comprehensive morphological analysis of selected street fronts in the study area and in Glasgow at large under different urban conditions (in particular different density, land use and building type). LUC aims to produce a kind of catalogue of plots/street fronts/buildings which has shaped the city of Glasgow in the past, and which will help to shape new neighbourhoods, according to the urban codes of the Victorian compact city like Glasgow was. LUC gives the principles, but then is purpose of the designer to understand what and when change something form the LUC. There are some particular elements which have to cope as better as possible with the LUC, and other which needs of special solutions. The project will show some of them. BOX 16 - Street Front Analysis Street Front Analysis is about measuring and comparing street fronts in the study area as well as in the larger urban area of Glasgow. Fronts are selected by staff in representation of a range of combined different options based on density, land-use and building type. This organizational framework, or Local Transect, is structured as follows: 01_HIGH DENSITY 01.A. Mixed Use 01.A.a. Aggregated 01.A.b. Isolated 01.B. Mostly Residential 01.B.a. Aggregated 01.B.b. Isolated 02_MEDIUM DENSITY 02.A. Mixed Use 02.A.a. Aggregated 02.A.b. Isolated 02.B. Mostly Residential 02.B.a. Aggregated 02.B.b. Isolated 03_LOW DENSITY 03.A. Mixed Use 03.A.a. Aggregated 03.A.b. Isolated 03.B. Mostly Residential 03.B.a. Aggregated 03.B.b. Isolated Fronts are coded accordingly: for example, a street front labelled “Front 3Aa_01” is supposed to be a low density, mixed-used street front predominantly constituted by aggregated buildings (the final “01” just identifies the specific street front). Fronts are first drawn on paper in plan, then drawings are processed in order to derive quantitative information that is stored in tables and elaborated. Some 58 indicators (of which 22 are derived from the others and therefore automatically calculated) are calculated that allow on one hand to understand differences in the spatial structure of front. (Porta, Romice, 2011)


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


The Project


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

7.7 The Foundation Masterplan A Draft Foundation Masterplan, which can be considered the initial step of the Masterplan, defines the boundary of the Masterplan Area. Within those boundaries defines the proposed street layout in a preliminary version, along with the hierarchy of streets, defines the street front types referred to every street in the proposed hierarchy, defines areas for main transformation, defines areas for regulation. In this phase the LUC has not implemented yet. The urban blocks and street are almost defined but any plot has not designed yet. There are just hypothetical values of density according to the theory of 400-800 m for the Neighbourhood Node or the District Node. BOX 17 - Producing a Foundation Masterplan Identifying Transformation Areas Map with boundaries as precise as possible, those areas which will undergo major changes in density, land-use or street layout to deliver and accommodate the strategy (they are termed Transformation Areas), and those that will only be subjected to minor changes (these are termed Confirmation Areas); Confirmation Areas are those which are not supposed to change significantly in density, land-use or street layout in the next 25 years. Do this on your map as another level of information. Assigning Coding types to street fronts. Now take into account only Transformation Areas in your Masterplan Area, and within those: a. Consider densities broadly proposed in the previous step as drawn from the Concept Plan. You have there three levels of density: high, medium and low. b. Transform those broad Concept Plan density indications into specific density indications attributed to every Street Front. Please notice that there is here a crucial passage of scale: i. While information on proposed density drawn from the Concept Plan is schematically represented in terms of circles, through this passage you are now translating them into actual zones for development that of course can not (and should not) take the form of a circle. ii. Moreover, while the Concept Plan indications of density possibly cover entire blocks, now you are assigning different densities to every Street Front. Please pay a lot of attention to this passage which is essential for the whole work of Masterplanning: within the range established in the broad Concept Plan indications you should now attribute higher densities to Street Fronts on main streets and lower densities to those on local streets. In short, it is essential that there is coherence in your proposal linking proposed densities on Street Fronts to both those proposed in the Concept Plan and, within those, to the street hierarchy that characterises every street in your proposal. This should be done by detailing the three levels of density set in the Concept Plan, i.e. high, medium and low, into further sub-levels, i.e.: 1. high+, high=, high-; 2. medium+, medium=, medium-; 3. low+, low=, low-. c. Once you have attributed densities to every Street Front, you should now go back to your Street Front Analysis and consider, for every Street Front, all analyzed cases that belong to the broad category assigned (high, medium and low): now, by looking at those cases, their actual density, their aggregation and building types, try assigning to every Street Front a reference case that will act as an example of what the development of that Street Front should look like according to your proposal. (Porta, Romice, 2011)


The Project


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


The Project

7.8 The Masterplan The masterplan is the final representation of the project. From the foundation masterplan, with the implementation of the LUC, it is possible to design the plots and the buildings. After that, much more attentions and a deeper grade of detail will be given to public realm, streets, green areas, specialist buildings‌ According to the masterplan, several other information should be produced like street sections, perspectives and views, a urban code of the built environment and so on. To sum up, the masterplan has to show how the area will change after the project and to highlight the benefits that the new project will produce both within and outside the masterplan area. The urban structure The main feature of the new Sighthill Masterplan is that a single neighbourhood has been designed instead of two smaller neighbourhoods like Fountainwell and Pinkston were. The previous masterplan has been proposed and realized according to the principles of Modernism which has promoted isolated residential units within an outer circle of vehicular network, all of them served by cul de sacs. The new Masterplan inverts this principle, extending the cul de sacs and connecting them to each other and to the main streets. This operation produce three main consequences: it reduces the urban blocks size, it creates a unique sense of community and it maintains relatively low the number and the density of streets. Blocks and building All the urban blocks in Sighthill have been resized and reduced to promote a higher accessibility. The blocks which face the main square are designed for tenemental residences (4 storey). To emphasize views and perspectives, higher volumes have been designed at each corner which housed offices or pther tertiary facilities. Tenements usually have shops at the ground floor, but some of them have shops and facilities at the basement. On Pinkston road a series of terrace houses has been designed. Some of them own the basement, and others own a private box for car. Further away from the centre, according to the decreased values of densities, the masterplan includes also other tenements (3 storey), double houses and single houses. Close to the motorway some productive lands have been design. Factories increase job opportunities for the residents and they also produce an efficient and vital barrier against the noise and the pollution of the M8. The street network The main two streets of the area remain Pinkston Road and the Springburn Bypass Road. But both have changed their character. Two new roundabouts have been introduced on the Springburn Bypass Road one according to the old access to Sighthill and the other in front of a new access. The car speed between them will be sensibly reduced, providing more liveable places around the bypass. Pinkston Road has also been extended into the southern network. The new 105

Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living

bridge which connect Pinkston Road, Royston Road and Baird Street provide the direct access to the city centre. Pinkston Road, which represents the edge of the Sighthill Park, has also been redesigned with tree lines, car parking, bus stops. Pinkston Drive and Fountainwell Road, the outer ring of the neighbourhood, will remain secondary street. Within the outer ring, other secondary and tertiary roads have been designed. One of them, the central spine, has a different character. The spine can be considered a boulevard with a large square in the middle. This spine, which across the neighbourhood of Sighthill, represents the pedestrian and ecological link between the city centre and eastern part of Glasgow. Some interventions have been planned also for the southern part of the M8. The single urban block of the Caledonian University Campus has been divided in three parts and two new streets have been designed. Dobbie’s Loan has been extended and connected to the St. James Road, producing a new direct connection between Port Dundas and the historical heart of Glasgow, composed by the Cathredal and the Necropolis. N Hanover Street, which today is the main road which connect the city centre with Sighthill, has been reduced in size (from 2 to 1 lane per direction) to accommodate wider pedestrian paths, a cycle route and some commercial activities. Pedestrian links The movements network is substantially divided in two different parts. On one hand the vehicular network which follows the improved and extended Pinkston Road into the city centre, on the other hand the pedestrian network which goes through the Sighthill Park into the city centre. The pedestrian network, rather than the vehicular network, connects all the main area of the masterplan: the neighbourhood, the cemetery, the Leisure Centre and Paddle Sport, the city centre and the park. Every 5 minutes walking pedestrian can reach a sequence of pleasant and well-served public realm areas. The two system-link meet each other in the City Centre and in the Sighthill Neighbourhood: a new and improved connectivity between the two areas has been designed. Facilities Because the area of Sighthill does not suffer of lack of facilities (it already has a post office, two primary school, a nursery, a community centre, a youth centre, an asylum seeker centre, a pub, some shops) the main community facilities have been placed at the ground floor of the tenements which face the main roads. In the strategic place between the new Paddle Sport Centre (PSC) and the new railway station a new Leisure Centre has been designed with a gym and a swimming pool. The idea is to create a sport hub able to attract people from the neighbourhood but also from city. According to this policy, a new centre for Rock climbing has been placed in the upper part of the park. The new towers for climbing will be iconic signs of the presence of activities within the park, improving its safety and surveillance.


The Project

The Park The Park has been preserved as much as possible. Some new facilities have been introduced (rock climbing, Leisure Centre). A new line of tree will redraw the fenced edge of the park in front of the new neighbourhood of Sighthill. The park has been extended and connect both to West (along the Monkland Canal) and to North (up to the cemetery). In the northern part of the park several community garden have been designed in according to the new pedestrian path. Instead of the old neighbourhood of Fontainwell, which is an area characterized by shallow foundations, the extension of the Sighthill cemetery has been planned.


Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


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Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


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Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


The Project




Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


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Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living


First of all, I would like to thank sincerely Professor Francesco Musco (IUAV) for his indispensable and constant role as Supervisor, who continuously supported and encouraged me from Italy. I also would like to thank both Professor Sergio Porta and Professor Ombretta Romice (Strathcylde University) for their crucial contribution to the development of my research and their decisive on-site help. Proper thanks to the staff of the University of Strathclyde of Glasgow and the whole research team of the Urban Design Studies Unit. I would like to mention here Adel, Alessandro, Bryce, Callum, Emma, Erica, Peter and Walid. Special thank to all students of the Urban Design class for all stuffs they placed at my disposal. I would like to underline the precious help I received especially from Alessandra and Jacob. Thank to all my friends in Glasgow who helped me to appreciate and preceive the city as my new, temporary home: Christina, Giulia, Katerina, Micheal, Olga, Shabnam. Last but not least, I would like to thank who supported and encouraged me from Italy during this long period abroad: I would like to spend a few words on my parents Alberto e Nerina, my sister Michela and her family, my girlfriend Silvia and all my friends who are too numerous to be mentioned: whitout all of them, this project would definitely not be possible.






Profile for Davide Consolati

Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living  

IUAV (University of Architecture of Venice) Master publication in collaboration with University of Strathclyde of Glasgow. Topic: analysis o...

Towards an Urban Regeneration: building high ways of living  

IUAV (University of Architecture of Venice) Master publication in collaboration with University of Strathclyde of Glasgow. Topic: analysis o...