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THE ART OF MAKING PLACES
Place-shaping in a new era of civic accountability
‘We’re all in it together, says Prime Minister Cameron.The only problem is that some of us may never be able to get out, quipped one wag on a recent radio panel show. Sad to say, he might well be right. Although we are entering a phase where government, professionals, practitioners, community activists and policymakers all claim to be on the same page when it comes to creating places that work for people, the ongoing spectre of weak economies and struggling currencies still haunts millions of people around the world who are living in environments that see little prospect of regeneration any time soon. We may well say that people are no longer mere consumers of urban space, but are now participants in placemaking, but will the proposed extension of participation reach past the demands of ROI, past the challenges of partnership working, and connect with those who yearn for change – and who have creative ideas about how to drive place-based innovation, given the right kind of support and resource. The coalition government has demonstrated its commitment to raise the status and significance of community-led responsibility, as it asks both professionals and the public to step forward and fill the gap left by a retreating state. But do we really have the the necessary mindset and the tools, skills and experience to do the job? How will professionals and activists involved in the making of better places rise to this fundamental challenge? Participation, consultation and involvement have been concepts espoused in the planning and neighbourhood management fields for many years. But have they been seriously embraced by professionals and political leaders – and will they be this time around? Critics say they that engagement practices are often used as a fig leaf to support decisions made within traditional establishment and organisational structures. How do we change this suspicion?
PLACEmaking 2010/11 explores best practice in local and regional placemaking involvement, participation and empowerment, discusses the solutions to ‘consultation fatigue’ and considers new models for expressing and acting upon the views and motivations of local communities – passing genuine power down the line. The creation of better places goes way beyond planning and design. It relates to selecting our options for living, working, shopping, getting around, meeting up and relaxing. It is rooted in control and empowerment. Place matters. And it will be through supporting community involvement in the development of places that the ‘big society’ will take shape, enabling communities to design, invest in and manage their own places. A new era of people-led place shaping will impact on design, delivery and democracy across neighbourhoods, towns and cities. The issues are complex: working towards place-based budgeting, investing in skills development, enabling access to evidence bases, information and tools, and supporting social inclusion. We will need new practical and professional skillsets, innovative land ownership, development and funding models, improved networks for knowledge-sharing, and effective methods of measuring and evaluating success – and of learning from mistakes and failures.We also need genuine partnerships between local authorities and grassroots activists, and the willingness to put real power in new places. Juliana O’Rourke | Editor
DESIGN & DELIVERY
RUDI: knowledge-sharing and networking
Large scale urban design
Dimensions of a sustainable city A strategic approach to local character
EDITORIAL Juliana O’Rourke, Editor E: email@example.com
CONTRIBUTORS Robert Cowan | Tom Evans Peter Stonham | Tom Moore Biljana Savic | Emily Berwyn Julian Hart | John Brown Suzanna Pembroke
The delivery models are broken...
Demistifying design appraisal 18
Delivering a carbon neutral community 20
Community-focused urban development
PUBLISHER PLACEmaking is published annually by RUDI Ltd (Resource for Urban Design Information) ISBN: 978-1-899650-66-8
Enabling communities to deliver their own futures
Information, individuality and identity
Re-engineering the city: invisible infrastructure
Learning to love shared space
ENGAGING COMMUNITIES & STAKEHOLDERS
Real placemaking? Yes we can 44
Presenting the city: 3D imaging Testing the future
Not a waste of space...
PUBLIC SPACES, PUBLIC PLACES
Open source placemaking
From town to active city
A world class waterfront
Creative and critical: breaking boundaries in Bristol 36
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Cover image: Graylingwell Park carbon neutral community, courtesy John Thompson & Partners. Developers: Linden Homes and Downland Housing Association/Affinity Sutton. Proposals were developed by a team led by John Thompson & Partners, with Joachim Eble Architektur, Studio Engleback and WSP
RUDI: KNOWLEDGE-SHARING AND NETWORKING FOR PLACEMAKERS
RUDI – the Resource for Urban Design Information – is an established international information and knowledge-sharing network for the placemaking professions. Its core aim is to promote best practice in urban design and development, and to facilitate the sharing of information between an ever-expanding circle of professionals involved in making better places. RUDI and partners are pioneering knowledge exchange and good practice through publications, events, exhibitions and via an online knowledge exchange platform, rudi.net
Much more than a website,RUDI facilitates communication across different media, linking the community of placemakers via online and offline networks. Via discussion events, seminars, conferences, publications, training sessions, web events and multimedia, RUDI takes a creative approach to knowledge exchange. RUDI has more than a decade of experience. It is independent, international, authoritative, inspiring and highly regarded by its target audience, regularly receiving messages of appreciation. RUDI supports and promotes a cross-disciplinary approach to quality placemaking as well as playing a key role in educating a wider group of current and new generation placemaking professionals. RUDI works closely with its sister organisation, TransportXtra, which includes publications Transport and the Urban Environment, Local Transport Today and New Transit, plus a major portfolio of more than 30 urbanism, transport and modelling-related events each year.A new initiative for 2010 has been TransportXtra’s Efficiency Network, a resource and discussion forum for professionals at the ‘sharp end’ of reshaping transport service delivery with reduced funding. RUDI:AN INDEPENDENTVIEW BASED ON SHAREDVISION The‘original’ RUDI online resource,since its establishment over 13 years ago, has grown progressively to hold a wealth of information and is supported by its expanding membership network, which contributes ideas, experience and best practice. In a market with
many voices, including government, campaigning agencies and interest groups, promoting a diverse and sometimes conflicting range of policies, perspectives and agendas, RUDI continues to provide an independent view based on shared vision. RUDI welcomes new partners who share its aims and mission: to develop long-term,supportive relationships of mutual benefit in the cause of the better design, management and equitable use of the built environment. The Resource for Urban Design Information (RUDI) main areas of activity include: • www.rudi.net – an established not for profit web-based resource dedicated to urban design, development and placemaking • www.urbandesignjobs.com – a recruitment platform providing a cost effective solution to finding staff with core skills • a series of placemaking-related knowledge sharing and networking events and conferences http://www.rudi.net/urban_design_update/events • tailored training courses, study tours and CPD development http://www.rudi.net/urban_design_update/skills_and_training • a range of specialist publications including PLACEmaking, Technology, space and place and Transport and the Urban Environment http://www.rudi.net/reading_room/bookshop • a publishing/content creation and dissemination service spanning print, web, photography and multimedia.
Support the RUDI mission and join the network today To find out more about RUDI, or to discuss partnership opportunities, please visit www.rudi.net and www.TransportXtra.com
CONTACT DETAILS: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 270 7857 To register for a trial of the resources and to join the network, please visit www.rudi.net/user/register
01 DESIGN & DELIVERY
04 08 12
DESIGN AT THE LARGE SCALE COUNTS MORE THAN EVER DIMENSIONS OF A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY
A STRATEGIC APPROACH TO LOCAL CHARACTER
DESIGN AT THE LARGE SCALE COUNTS MORE THAN EVER
Regional strategies are out under the government’s new planning system – but there’s still a major role for cross-boundary working. Biljana Savic, senior design advisor at CABE, offers a way forward for large-scale projects
Despite the removal of the regional tier and the emphasis on community-driven decisions in the current overhaul of planning policy, local authorities will still need to collaborate across boundaries on some issues. CABE’s recent research, Getting the big picture right, explores ways of tackling issues that cannot be solved through local action alone. These include large infrastructure projects such as transport hubs, energy generation and new urban extensions, or important new facilities like hospitals and universities. Large-scale urban design addresses other issues that also do not observe boundaries , for example climate change. Government itself recognises this continuing need for crossboundary working, of course. In future, some of it will be overseen by local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) which are expected to take over some of the responsibilities of the abolished regional development agencies.They are made up of voluntary partnerships of local authorities and businesses. The government envisages that LEPs will focus primarily on economic development, but also deal with issues such as planning and housing,local transport and infrastructure priorities
and the transition to a low carbon economy. In an early announcement, communities secretary Eric Pickles and business secretary Vince Cable have said that LEPs should reflect the natural economic geography of the areas they serve. Joint local authority working is crucial for making strategic decisions about economic development and infrastructure investment. Getting the big picture right will help the LEPs to recognise that the spatial dimension must be locked in to the economic dimension when they formulate their plans. It highlights some of the best examples from across Europe. CABE has long recognised the need for joint working as critical for making the right decisions about economic development and infrastructure investment and improving the quality of life for people living in an area. Getting the big picture right sets out the case for ‘large-scale urban design’, a new way of designing at the level at which economic and housing markets operate. Large-scale urban design recognises that the way that people live their lives has changed. We no longer live our lives in one neighbourhood: we consistently travel further for work, shopping and for leisure.
ECONOMICS AND LARGE-SCALE URBAN DESIGN Large-scale urban design can be used by partnerships facing significant social, environmental or economic challenges in their areas. These areas may need to plan water or waste management, energy production or green spaces; or they may want to protect or enhance natural or cultural assets. They may be growing in population and need to plan new homes, schools, leisure and shopping centres. Or they may simply want to improve the quality and distinctiveness of local building. In times of austerity, there are economic benefits to planning across boundaries. Large-scale urban design can inform decisions on where to invest limited resources, and can strengthen local prosperity, say by linking specialised centres together to support a knowledge economy. With the economic slowdown offering fewer chances to rectify failures, the decisions on where and how to invest and build or achieve efficiencies through joint action are increasingly important. CABE’s workshop-based process focuses on three phases: prepare and understanding the challenge; the design phase; and the implementation plan, which sets out how the strategy will be delivered and by whom
(left, top)The initial inspiration for CABE’s research project came from the Emscher Landshaftpark project in Germany, where 20 local authorities decided to work together to reverse the economic, social and environmental decline caused by the closure of steelworks and mines.They produced a flexible spatial strategy to guide the work at local level and have delivered over 400 projects on the ground since 1989
(left)The Hertfordshire charette developed a number of spatial options for long-term growth in the county through a seven-day workshop involving local interests groups
A WORKSHOP-BASED PROCESS These issues are the focus of CABE’s new approach to largescale design. It uses a workshop-based process split into three phases. The first phase is to prepare and understand the challenge. The culmination of this phase is a design brief that guides the next phase of work. It will set out the vision statement for the project, and include a summary of the information and analysis, delivery challenges for the wide area, aspirations for design quality and indicators to monitor the forthcoming spatial strategy and/or priority projects. Second is the design phase. This is based on one or more intensive workshops with key stakeholders that are guided by expert facilitators. It is at this point that the critical issues and projects are identified that will need to be addressed at crossboundary level and spatial options explored for their implementation. The key output of this phase is a spatial strategy, which summarises the story of change for the area. It is supplemented by a design guide to support development of more detailed masterplans, development briefs and proposals. The strategy and the guide are then published widely (in formats that are easy to understand) in order to get the public on board. The final phase is the implementation plan which sets out how the strategy will be delivered and by whom. This is based on the earlier exploration of delivery issues and its preparation may culminate in a dedicated workshop with delivery partners. THE INSPIRATION OF COLLABORATIVE WORKING The initial inspiration for CABE’s research project came from the Emscher Landshaftpark project in Germany, where 20 local authorities decided to work together to reverse the economic,
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Interestingly, the most successful of over 30 projects reviewed by CABE were not conceived and developed within the statutory system.This gave them the freedom to explore all possible options and at the same time cemented partnerships taking them forward – probably why they worked
CABE has long recognised the need for joint working as critical for making the right decisions about economic development and infrastructure investment. Getting the big picture right sets out the case for ‘large-scale urban design’, a new way of designing at the level at which economic and housing markets operate
Using a non-statutory strategic approach to respond to the increasing development pressure in and around Cambridge caused by the phenomenal growth of high-tech businesses
social and environmental decline caused by the closure of steelworks and mines.They produced a flexible spatial strategy to guide the work at local level and have delivered over 400 projects on the ground since 1989. In New Zealand, an urban development strategy for Christchurch brought together a large number of sub-regional stakeholders to develop a growth strategy to 2041 through intensive design workshops. And in the UK, a Hertfordshire charette developed a number of spatial options for long-term growth in the county through a seven-day workshop involving local interests groups. Interestingly, the most successful of over 30 projects reviewed by CABE were not conceived and developed within the statutory system.This gave them the freedom to explore all possible options and at the same time cemented partnerships taking them forward – this is probably why they worked. What made these projects successful was the focus on the qualities and opportunities of their area in all its complexity and the spatial, creative and collaborative approach to thinking about its future. With the economic slowdown offering fewer chances to rectify failures, the decisions on where and how to invest and
build or achieve efficiencies through joint action are arguably now more important than ever. Our research shows that with a strong team, the active involvement of all those affected, and a flexible approach, large-scale urban design can strengthen local prosperity. ■ For more information on large-scale urban design, and how to approach it, see www.cabe.org.uk/publications/getting-thebig-picture-right and www.cabe.org.uk/strud On 20 October, 2010, the Department of Culture decided as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review to withdraw funding from CABE. The CABE team is now working with Government and others to try to find a way to ensure the kind of expert, impartial design advice for which CABE has been known remains available to councils, communities and developers across the country. In the meantime, CABE remains the government’s statutory advisor on architecture, urban design and public space. It is continuing to conduct design review and to deliver many programmes. Existing CABE online resources will remain accessible on www.cabe.org.uk
LARGER THAN THE LOCAL LEVEL...
Democratic decision-making that is larger than the local, but smaller than the national, forms a key element in the move towards locallyfocused partnership placemaking As the coalition government moves towards a localism agenda via the Localism Bill, which will devolve greater powers to local authorities and communities, UK planners and designers are keen to ensure that a reformed planning system meets wider than local needs, calling for ‘larger-thanlocal level’ planning to be enshrined in any reforms to the current system.With the impending abolition of regional spatial strategies, an alliance including the Planning Officers Society, the RTPI and TCPA have petitioned Eric Pickles Secretary of State, DCLG, calling for ‘larger-than-local level’ planning to be enshrined in any reforms to the current system. By way of reply, Pickles re-assured the alliance that the government is ‘considering what additional tools or mechanisms can be added to the legislative framework to enable “strategic planning”.’ REINVENTING THE STRATEGIC TIER? Many placemaking professionals are wondering how a localist approach can be relied upon to produce balanced decisions on new development that factor in community need: efficient utilities, green space, mixed use and design quality, and still act in the overall interests of society. TCPA chief planner Hugh Ellis, for example, has expressed the view that the spatial strategy system should have been reformed rather than abolished.‘If we want to go forward we will have to reinvent the strategic tier,’ he said.‘The only question is what shape that tier should be.’ Many have also questioned the effectiveness of voluntary agreements between local authorities and business in the form of local
NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANS The government’s local growth white paper confirmed that neighbourhood plans will form a tier of planning below the local development plan.The plans will need to respect the overall national presumption in favour of sustainable development as well as other local priorities, such as the positioning of transport links and meeting housing need.The Planning Officers Society noted that urban neighbourhoods in particular may be difficult to define. It stressed the need to consult local people and businesses early in the planmaking process to define neighbourhood boundaries. ‘Nevertheless, neighbourhood plans do have a place in the planning framework,’ said POS spokesman John Silvester.
Neighbourhood plans will form a tier of planning below the local development plan.The plans will need to respect the overall national presumption in favour of sustainable development as well as other local priorities, such as the positioning of transport links and meeting housing need.The Planning Officers Society noted that urban neighbourhoods in particular may be difficult to define
Savills head of planning and regeneration, Roger Hepher, said of the plans that ‘a potentially anarchic concept has been tempered by the need to respect local and national strategic priorities’.Town and Country Planning Association chief executive Kate Henderson added: ‘Local and neighbourhood plans will need to have regard to national policy and establish the key strategic framework on infrastructure, as well as other local strategic priorities.’ A survey of local authority intentions, published in October in the planning press, assessed how they intend to handle the new frameworks and the imminent abolition of targets. While less than one quarter of the surveyed sample planned to review housing targets, many more were preparing to revise employment targets, potentially upsetting the carefully worked out balance that the regional strategies aimed for. Many planners, including some who support localism, feel that the current policy vacuum will delay the already geological pace at which many Local Development Frameworks are advancing. Many placemaking professionals, in the UK and beyond, are wondering whether a localist approach can be relied upon to produce balanced decisions on new development that factor in community need: efficient utilities, green space, mixed use and design quality, and still act in the overall interests of society
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enterprise partnerships (LEPs), saying there needs to be obligation within strategic planning. ‘Our view is, said Mark Prisk, minister for business and enterprise, that where Whitehall engages with local authorities on a particular issue, there might be some funding available through a contractual agreement with central government. As to whether the partnerships would receive any basic funding to help them operate, he added: ‘We have to get away from this idea that economic development is all about funding from Whitehall.’ The Centre for Cities think tank has always recommended that economic priorities should be set at the level of ‘natural economic areas’ – smaller than regions, but bigger than single local authority boundaries. It supports the introduction of LEPs and believes that they could give cities the powers they need to shape their local economy. LEPs are able to bid for part of the new £1bn Regional Growth Fund, and the Government is also pledging funds (£5m in 2011/12, £10m in 2012/13, £15m in 2013/14 and £20 in 2014/15) to deliver ‘open source planning’.This as yet rather undefined concept appears to refer to a series of concepts which involve the abolition of the regional strategies and the creation of new local and neighbourhood plans. But concern remains about the lack of detail concerning models for the ways in which top-down planning would meet neighbourhood planning, and there have been calls for a link to national policy.
DIMENSIONS OF THE SUSTAINABLE CITY
Are more compact, higher density and mixed use urban forms more environmentally sound, more efficient for transport, more economically viable and more socially beneficial? Following five years of detailed analysis across five UK cities, the CityForm consortium came up with rather surprising insights. By Juliana O’Rourke
Although our research has shown the complexity of making cities more sustainable, it also identified many trade-offs and a number of potential ways of getting there. The important point is to approach the problems in an inclusive and integrated way, to work in partnership across boundaries and disciplines, and tackle the issues of social, economic and environmental sustainability in an imaginative way Professor Mike Jenks, CityForm consortium
With sustainable urban development now a national priority,this brief summary of a complex and inter-relating series of outputs and outcomes offers food for thought on how planners, designers, decision-makers and policymakers can support moves to more sustainable and socially equitable living. ‘There is an increasingly intense debate in policy and practice about sustainability, and a key issue is to what extent the adaptation of the physical form of cities and the way people live in them and travel around them can improve it,’ say Mike Jenks and Colin Jones, editors of Dimensions of the Sustainable City, a book discussing the CityForm project findings.The consortium’s insights are a key output to emerge from the EPSRC-funded Sustainable Urban Environment (SUE) programme.Compact city arguments have, they say, become attractive to governments in recent years and sustainability policies have focused on increasing the density of urban development, improving public transport, ensuring a mix of uses and containing sprawl.Yet, they add, ‘despite this widespread adoption of these policies, the evidence base supporting them is very limited.’ While noting that the analysis and ‘measurement’ of urban form, along with the concept of sustainability, remain elusive concepts that are widely open to interpretation, the project outcomes suggest that despite apparent simplifications of policy, the concept of urban sustainability has become increasingly
complex.A range of what the editors term ‘contradictions and complementarities’ – social acceptability, environmental concerns and economic viability – seek priority on the policy agenda.‘The planner’s challenging task is to address and resolve the tensions from this triangle of potential conflicts,’ suggest Jenks and Jones. For the parameters of this project, urban form was characterised in terms of five elements – the pattern of land use, accessibility defined by transport infrastructure, density, housing/building characteristics and urban layout. Each of these, to a degree, overlap and it is difficult to completely isolate individual components.The core research was based on five UK cities: case studies comprising neighbourhoods located in the inner, middle and outer city zones were produced.The editors noted that the spatial structure of each of the five cities demonstrated a strong relationship between physical urban form and socio-economic demographic characteristics. ‘Elements of urban form are intertwined, and so are the key domains or pillars of urban sustainability; namely social, environmental and economic sustainability. The aim of this project was to identity the optimum urban form solutions that would be socially beneficial, economically viable, environmentally sound and support an efficient transport system,’ says Dr Shibu Raman, a member of the CityForm consortium.
Higher urban densities in some UK cities were found to be strongly associated with a reduction in total green space coverage. In Europe, urban extensions try to build in green space and SUDs
ENVIRONMENT: ECOLOGY AND BIODIVERSITY Given that an increasing proportion of the world’s population lives in urban areas, the project explored the relationships between urban form, green space and biodiversity in terms of population density, the patterns of coverage of different land use types, and the degree of connectivity of different patches of land cover. Higher urban densities were found to be strongly associated with a reduction in total green space coverage, and to influence their connectivity.‘Increased population density has implications for essential elements of the local ecosystem that are mediated by green space: the regulation of water and temperature regimes, carbon sequestration and the provision of pest control and pollinators across the urban landscape.’ One striking relationship between biodiversity and density is given by the incidence of bird species. ‘Levels of bird species richness showed a hump-shaped relationship with housing density, rising initially as density increased, but then declining sharply at highly
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TRANSPORT:TRAVEL AND MOBILITY Sustainable urban policy has focused on reducing the dominance of private car use. Many designers and planners argue that cities can be designed to create amenity-rich urban neighbourhoods that stimulate the use of public transport, walking and cycling. But such an approach‘faces a number of major hurdles,’ say Jenks and Jones. In the absence of constraints such as road pricing or parking restrictions, the car looks set to remain the king of the road. And evidence suggests, they say, that even if urban neighbourhood design could stimulate greater use of local amenities, it is probable that the savings generated may well be used for wider travel. Overall, the assumption that redesigning urban form can bring about a substantial change in travel behaviour is ‘open to question’. The extent to which residential location choice is the consequence of household travel preferences is a key question, suggests project results. ‘Traditional urban forms characterised by moderately high densities of housing, mixed land-uses, proximity to public transport and grid-pattern road layouts are definitely linked with lower levels of car availability, which in turn are associated with lower trip frequencies and shorter travel distances.’ Overall, add the editors, car ownership levels increase with decreasing population density and increasing distance from a city centre. In the highest density areas, limited parking supply and regulatory control can also play a role in limiting car demand. However, self-selection of residential location on the basis of travel preferences was ‘not found to be a major influence on car travel, with other influences such as household income being a strong influence on car ownership’. Project outputs suggest that although car ownership is lessened in higher density areas, it influences trip-making behaviour but has no measurable effect on distance travelled. Local travel is influenced by the frequency of use of a number of key services and facilities, declining with distance from home. The relationship between travel and urban form is not simple, conclude the editors.‘At the neighbourhood level, the analysis suggests that (re)designing a neighbourhood per se will not necessarily bring substantial change to travel behaviour. Other measures will be needed to secure a fully ‘sustainable’ shift in travel behaviour, for example relating to the higher taxation and pricing of fuel, increased regulation and stronger direct management of travel demand.’
urbanised locations.’ The results also suggested that reductions in the scale and quality of green space through higher densities lead to substantial restrictions on recreation and experiences of nature, especially for children.The analysis suggests that there are opportunities for policies designed to improve the environmental and ecological performance of urban areas for any given level of urban density. SOCIAL ACCEPTABILITY A sustainable city must be a place where people want to live and work, say the editors. Social acceptability comprises two broad concepts: social equity, or ease of access to local services, facilities and opportunities, and sustainable community or positive ‘quality of life’, which takes in high levels of social capital and/or social cohesion (local pride, social interaction, safety and stability). Research findings show that for most aspects of sustainability of community or
quality of life, lower density suburbs appear more popular. ‘These aspects of the social dimension challenge the “compact city” orthodoxy, but there are some counterbalancing benefits of compactness in the equity aspect of social sustainability, particularly access to services,’ say the editors. Social interaction fares best at medium densities, while some aspects, for example community participation, are neutral. The editors also note that housing tenure and the social composition of neighbourhoods influence these indicators: ‘the disadvantages of compactness are more marginal once socio-demographic characteristics of residents are controlled for’. Poverty is often more important than urban form – who lives where, and whether they are able to choose where they live, matters. However, accessibility to key services such as supermarkets within the neighbourhood is identified as important for certain groups of residents such as the unemployed, older people and young families, and plays a significant role in social and community life For open space usage, perceptions of safety are crucial, but management solutions can be complex, and problematic in, for example, shared communal gardens and spaces in higher density flats. ENVIRONMENT: ENERGY USE Cities use great amounts of energy: policies tend to focus on adapting existing housing stock to improve energy conservation and promoting carbon neutral new housing. CityForm explored the issues of domestic energy and its influence on housing type and built form.The analysis found only a weak relationship with built urban form: residential energy use appears to be linked more closely to the level of occupancy within a home and type of appliances used than house type. There is also a slight suggestion that the organisation of a city’s economy and urban form in shaping commuting may impact on energy consumption via home working. Lifestyles and demographics influence energy consumption more than building type, and urban form is of only marginal importance:connection with urban form is an indirect association with occupancy (particularly number of bedrooms) – the smaller the house the less energy used, and the smaller the house the more likely it is to be part of a higher density urban form.
The analysis suggests that there are opportunities for policies designed to improve the environmental and ecological performance of urban areas for any given level of urban density, as frequently happens in Holland
INTENSIFYING NEIGHBOURHOOD DENSITY A major theme of many sustainability protagonists is the need for higher residential densities to enhance sustainability. As CityForm demonstrates, ‘these arguments are not entirely founded on empirical analysis’. The consortium’s detailed investigation of Govan, a working class area of Glasgow, shows that a systematic tool can be applied to restructure cities into a series of sustainable neighbourhoods – featuring amenities within walking distance of peoples’ front doors and local centres directly linked by public transport – although it makes clear that those embarking on such a task will need ‘the courage not to compromise too soon, given the substantial upheaval involved’.
Do residents of new‘sustainable’ housing developments,asked CityForm, behave more sustainably than the population in general? The group’s findings were, perhaps surprisingly, more negative than positive. Households living in ‘sustainable’ developments only appear to behave more sustainably with regard to home-based resource efficiency activities, such as water and energy use.Behaviour toward recycling and frequency of use of local facilities are equivalent to national benchmarks. When it comes to other activities, such as travel to work by car, owning (or having access to) a car, social participation, encouraging wildlife and composting,they behave less sustainably than the population in general. To put these findings in context, the authors note that the nature of high density living may make activities as outdoor composting and encouraging wildlife in gardens difficult. Research into private gardens demonstrates that individual decisions made by landowners can result in large scale effects on environmental conditions, yet conservation biology has yet to incorporate the urban environment into conservation planning exercises, note the authors. The interpretation of some relationships between urban form and dimensions of sustainability must be treated with care. In studying links,for example,between density and social outcomes it is essential to control for the influence of intervening variables that may exert significant influence and so affect conclusions. For example, poverty in particular is a key influence on the social sustainability of a neighbourhood. To sum up more than five years of detailed analysis,the editors conclude that their findings raise as many questions as they answer – although when studied in detail, the analysis can provide strong strategic insight for policymakers. Lifestyles, including the use of cars, are not necessarily determined by urban physical form, suggest Jenks and Jones, although they may be influenced and constrained by it.‘Consumption in its broadest sense is more broadly determined by incomes and social class. This is reflected in the patterns of the spatial viability of new housing development being more dependent on the socioeconomic status of a neighbourhood than any particular feature of urban form.’
■ Dimensions of the Sustainable City is published by Springer at £90 Series: Future City,Vol. 2, Jenks, Mike; Jones, Colin (Eds.). 1st Edition, 2010, XIII, 282 p. 58 illus. in color., Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4020-8646-5
In general, efficiently designed, mixed use and moderately high density development has a lot going for it. It can provide high quality infrastructure, quality of life, richer biodiversity, and has a relatively smaller environmental footprint
Dr Shibu Raman, CityForm consortium
The EPSRC grant was GR/520529/01, and the research involved many people.The key researchers are all acknowledged in the book Dimensions of the Sustainable City, and those who undertook particular aspects of the work are listed as authors of each of the book’s chapters.
‘The CityForm research has made a real impact outside the UK. The research approach and methodology have been adapted to the Indian context, where rapid urbanisation is creating challenges for long-term sustainability.The CityFormIndia research network is jointly funded by the EPSRC, British Council and the Indian Government and brings together academics, practitioners, built environment experts and policymakers from Europe and India in an international research exchange on sustainability and urban form.A similar collaborative research project is beginning to investigate the challenges and solutions of urbanisation inAfrica.Equally there is a need to develop methods and tools that allow an integrated analysis, to find the way through the complex relationships that exists in cities’. ■ Dr Nicola Dempsey and Dr Shibu Raman, CityForm See www.cityform.org for more details
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ECONOMICVIABILITY Economics is a key influence on urban form, and policy cannot work counter to spatial market forces in the long term, note the editors. CityForm explored to what extent the spatial economy is likely to constrain change, and found that arguments in favour of higher densities ‘are based on too simplistic a concept of agglomeration economies, which does not take into account cities as dynamic entities with spatial land use patterns subject to change.’ The urban dispersal ‘alternative’, partly the inevitable outcome of market forces, has the drawback that the existing longstanding urban dispersal trends have substantially increased commuting distances and travel to work, as well as infrastructure costs. These ‘externality’ effects are not considered by individual market decision-makers in their decentralisation decisions CityForm’s evidence suggests that policies aimed at supporting cities’ potential to adapt existing urban form in ways that move towards economic sustainability are welcome. However, analysis of the housing market shows that many households prefer low density housing. There appears to be a household life-cycle element to residential location choice: younger and nonpensioner single households live in the central city areas, but move out to the suburbs as they move through the family life cycle. It may be difficult to encourage more concentrated urban forms without significant changes to the underlying forces of city housing markets,particularly where concentrated poverty makes market-led urban redevelopment unviable.
A STRATEGIC APPROACH TO LOCAL CHARACTER
Localism means starting from the place, rather than from administrative boundaries.The new joint Urban Design Guidance for Newcastle-underLyme Borough Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council shows how a strategic urban design approach and cross-boundary working help realise the potential for local distinctiveness. By Jane Dann and Katja Stille
AREA-WIDE GUIDANCE The guidance outlines area-wide urban design guidance, not something that is commonly produced, says Mick Downs, executive director of Urban Vision North Staffordshire (UVNS). UVNS produced the project brief, acting for a client group comprising Renew North Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, with support from CABE, English Heritage and the Homes and Communities Agency.‘ Urban design guidance is normally created for a master plan area or a town centre, but not for a whole city area with multiple centres, suburbs and industrial developments, mixed use projects and more than one local authority,’ says Downs. Each member of the client group had their own priorities, reflected in an all-encompassing and ambitious brief. The document was to be promotional yet regulatory, and include design guidance at all scales (from sub-regional to detail). Its preparation ‘needed to’ raise design awareness and the skills of stakeholders. It ‘had to’ cover character areas (such as town centres, canal and river corridors); topics (such as residential, public realm); the importance of good design; and how design and procurement processes can promote good design. The aim was to set a common benchmark for urban design quality across the whole area.
A wide range of environments can be found across the conurbation
STRATEGY AND CHARACTER The brief made clear that generic design guidance would not meet local aspirations – a place-based approach was required to respond to distinctive local character. The guidance includes a strategic urban design vision and design principles for the area as a whole. This adds character as another dimension to the spatial vision set out in the Joint Core Spatial Strategy. It is based on a sub-regional character assessment, and is among the first occasions such a holistic approach has been used. This recognises the vital importance of the conurbation’s rich and unique heritage to local distinctiveness, which derives as much from the historic pattern of development as from the appearance of places. The area’s topography and geology supported the development of industries such as coal, iron and potteries, with the central valley of today’s conurbation, in particular, becoming a concentration of industry. A number of towns grew up to serve these industries.The form of development was polycentric, based around the six centres of Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle (already an established market town) and Kidsgrove. Today the
01 DESIGN & DELIVERY: THE CURRENT AGENDA
Quality of place has been identified as crucial to establishing a stronger, knowledge-based economic platform to drive regeneration in North Staffordshire. The conurbation of Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent suffered from the post-war loss of much of its traditional economic base, and quality of proposals for new development declined accordingly, not helped by a degree of competition between local authorities for new development and for jobs. In recent years, public sector agencies have adopted a coordinated approach to economic regeneration and housing market renewal.This extended to include planning policy, with cross-boundary working successfully producing a Joint Core Spatial Strategy. Renew North Staffordshire, the HMR Pathfinder, recognised that Urban Design Guidance, with the status of a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), had a key role to play in raising the quality of new housing across the area.
industries have generally moved on, but the legacy of this distinctive settlement pattern remains. With the loss of industry, the conurbation lost much of the physical ‘glue’ that fixed the settlement pattern. Whilst this presents a significant challenge for economic regeneration, it also represents an opportunity for development to support a new quality of life, to respond to changing aspirations for sustainable lifestyles and to adapt to future climate change. To date, much of the redevelopment of former industrial areas has had a low quality, disjointed and ‘out-of-town’ character, which has made the heart of the conurbation seem a confusing place, with a negative image. The design guidance proposes a new, green character for these ‘in between’ areas so instead they become an environmental asset, create a more positive image, aid wayfinding and support sustainable regeneration. Stakeholders were unfamiliar with the concept of strategic urban design. However, the results of a workshop session devoted to this subject showed that most people felt it to be an important scale for the guidance to address. INTEGRATED TRAINING AND ENGAGEMENT Front-loaded consultation involved council officers, elected embers, representatives of public sector agencies, developers, architects, RSLs and amenity groups.Tibbalds devised and ran a programme of engagement together with Urban Vision’s urban design skills training for local stakeholders. Training elements included an inspirational visit to Sheffield and outside speakers to highlight the benefits of design guidance. Events were aligned with the work programme, so each session included both engagement and training. Progress updates and workshops encouraged people to feed in local issues and concerns, to discuss concepts and debate priorities. At ‘guidance testing’ workshops, planning officers and potential applicants used drafts of the guidance to assess sample planning applications (already determined). This format of workshop, in facilitated groups, provided a productive combination of feedback (to the consultant team) and skills sharing (both between participants and with the facilitators).
JOINED UP DESIGN: STRATEGIC GUIDANCE ACROSS LOCAL AUTHORITY BORDERS AND MULTIPLE TOWN CENTRES
The recently published Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-onTrent urban design vision is among the first in the UK to set out strategic guidance across local authority borders and multiple town centres. But any move forward requires that key local officials be prepared to make robust decisions in the interest of supporting holistic design. The planned growth for Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke onTrent is set to deliver 20,000 homes, 332 hectares of new employment land and 155,000 square metres of retail space in coming years, together with a wide range of supporting community infrastructure.Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design was appointed in 2007 to prepare design guidance for Newcastleunder-Lyme and Stoke on-Trent.‘The key aim of the design guide was to achieve a step change in the design quality of new development, both by the public and private sectors, says Jane Dann from the Tibbalds team. ‘On the one hand, the guidance needed to be aspirational and inspiring, and on the other it had to provide practical and pragmatic advice to prospective developers and their designers on how to achieve urban design quality without compromising development viability.’ ‘We are already using the guidance,’ says councilor Robin Studd, Newcastle Borough Council Deputy Leader and cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration & planning. ‘ It’s going to be of great value to us. Basically, our area has been a bucket shop for poor design over the past years.We urgently need guidance that will help us to raise the game and begin to create the heritage buildings of the future – and that means ordinary homes, not just iconic commercial developments.This guidance will become the vehicle by which we embed new thinking and a new approach.’ ‘We had a lot of discussion about how broad the urban design principles needed to be. It was crucial to get the right balance between contextual issues and general placemaking principles,’ says Katja Stille, urban designer with Tibbalds. Despite the proposed abolition of regional spatial strategies, the evidence base on which they were based is still valid,says Stille.‘The design guide brings together evidence and information from a wide
range of studies carried out over the years, a very useful process that is far too rarely undertaken.’ Strategic planning is necessary, says Stille, to ensure that ‘larger than local’ planning and investment initiatives make sense. It ensures that investment in major infrastructure is cost-effective and serves both the needs of local communities and the wider area. ‘Placed in context with the current reorganisation of planning policy, it seems that design guidance created at the scale of the Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent document becomes even more relevant,’ she adds. Given that producing holistic design guidance at this scale is quite a new approach, we faced several challenges, says Mick Downs, executive director of UrbanVision North Staffordshire. ‘When you’re trying to get a message across to development control officers, they’re not necessarily used to operating at that level.They are more likely used to dealing with a specific site, so they’re not used to seeing a“big picture” of the way development is going to form part of an even bigger jigsaw. It was problematic getting that message across, and we went through several drafts before getting it right; when the local authorities were comfortable that the guidance was sufficiently understandable to be used by planners from day to day.’‘The complete process has taken two and a half years, and the document has been written in such a way that it also has some promotional value,’ says Downs.‘It’s painting a picture of where the area is trying to go,to but obviously achieving aims requires pretty robust decisions by the councils.Their support is the key to the whole initiative.’ ‘I intend to stress the need to use this guidance,’ says Cllr Studd.‘I understand that we may need to apply a little pressure if we want to change things.The guidance shows us what can be achieved. There are a number of policy and decision-makers across the local authorities who are reluctant to embrace change, but I intend to encourage them to take another look at their traditional ways.’ Although guidance rather than regulation, Downs describes the vision as ‘directional guidance’. Enforcement remains a local authority issue.‘I believe that the local authorities need to take
01 DESIGN & DELIVERY: THE CURRENT AGENDA
a robust approach, particularly in the early stages. They may need to refuse a few planning applications that don’t comply with the guidance. But if they draw a line and fight a few successful appeals, then developers will have to take more notice. It really is the local authorities’ responsibility to make this thing work. It’s vital that they take robust decisions, especially in the beginning.’ The Urban Design Guidance has been adopted by Newcastleunder-Lyme Borough Council, and is subject to approval by Stoke-on-Trent City Council. It is soon expected to start playing its part in shaping future proposals for the area. Elected members across the conurbation are positive that progress will be made.‘I am pleased that we have a formal policy approach to design and spatial quality,’ says Councillor Mervin Smith, Stokeon-Trent City Council cabinet member for city development and regeneration.‘This will ensure that future developments will need to be of a high standard and this can only be a good thing for the city, and North Staffordshire. Good architectural quality will do a lot to lift the dignity and esteem of our built environment and will help us to attract and retain residents,’ he adds.‘It also means that developers need to raise their game in order to meet the high aspirations being set by the city.However, whilst we will continue to protect and celebrate our heritage and conserve those parts of the area which need preservation, we shall also modernise wherever possible.’ Achieving such progress may not, acknowledges Downs, always be easy.‘In development control there so many factors to take into account. Many planning officers tend to regard design as just one factor, along with flood risk or traffic issues. But we believe that good design is fundamental to every single aspect of planning. Reinforcing the idea that good design really can solve key problems is our main challenge.’ ■ Juliana O’Rourke spoke with Jane Dann and Katja Stille from Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, and Mick Downs, Executive Director, Urban Vision North Staffordshire www.tibbalds.co.uk
The document, produced in an easily accessible and searchable interactive pdf format, begins with the strategic vision of good design and good practice, followed by area-specific guidance for centres, for transport corridors and for rivers and waterways and thematic guidance for residential development, open space and other policy and design issues
THE DELIVERY MODELS ARE BROKEN...
Soon after taking office, the Conservatives published proposals for a planning system that calls for a more responsive and accountable system. And, judging from the murmurs coming from the urban design and placemaking communities ever since, it’s not a moment too soon Kelvin Campbell of Urban Initiatives, London, has recently criticized the current state of masterplanning in particular as ‘designed to deliver products, not places’.A back-to-basics approach – based on smaller, more viable plots – is required, he suggests. He quotes Sir Bob Kerslake of the UK Homes and Communities Agency:‘The old delivery models are broken’. Einstein’s famous quote;‘insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results’, is
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THE DELIVERY MODELS ARE BROKEN...
DEMYSTIFYING DESIGN APPRAISAL
DELIVERING A CARBON NEUTRAL COMMUNITY COMMUNITY-FOCUSED URBAN DEVELOPMENT
relevant here, says Campbell.‘The private sector can deliver successful products, but struggles to deliver successful places.That can only be the role of those who have a longterm view of a place, and are willing to open up opportunities to a wider group of players, says Campbell. But the spectres of over-commercially minded developers and errant politicians remain. Local communities need new powers to prevent developers and local councils flouting the new neighbourhood-oriented plans promised by the Government, says Civic Voice chair Paula Ridely.‘As the most numerous participants in the planning system, civic volunteers are set to play a central role in the Government’s Big Society ambitions for better planning.‘Change is in the air, as local communities take more control over their own future. Local people know their area best.The civic movement is part of this.We want to play a revitalised role in promoting civic pride and making the places where everyone lives more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive.’ But not everyone is happy.The coalition’s proposed overhaul of the planning system lacks an evidence base and is ‘completely untested’, according to a ‘deeply sceptical’ former housing minister, Nick Raynsford, who has voiced deep concerns over the government’s plans to increase localism in planning and scrap regional spatial strategies. Raynsford said:We are living in a period of unparalleled uncertainty and flux. I’m deeply sceptical about the
02 NEW COMMUNITIES: THE NEW MASTERPLANNING
Change is in the air, as local communities take more control over their own future. Local people know their area best.The civic movement is part of this.We want to play a revitalised role in promoting civic pride and making the places where everyone lives more attractive, enjoyable and distinctive proposition of an overhaul of planning.‘This is completely untested. Not one small locality or community has had this new system tested on it.We are being asked to do something that has no evidence base.The Conservatives claimed that the short-term decline in housing proved the planning system was bust, said Raynsford.‘This apocalyptic critique frankly doesn’t stack up.’ Only time will tell. COMMUNITY-BASED BUDGETS Proposals for community-based budgets will also be outlined in the localism bill, Lord Wei, the coalition’s ‘Big Society’ advisor, has suggested. Four councils have so far been testing the potential of so-called community-based budgets as part of a pilot programme that could lead to radical changes to the way funding is devolved. Many placemakers look forward to the moves: freeing local authorities from ring-fenced grants and centrally-imposed regimes. However, the benefit of community-based budgets would seem to be restricted to the fact that councils can have more control over local government monies and limited sums from other public sector budgets in order to address the challenges of communities with complex needs. Proposals for community-based budgets will be outlined in the forthcoming Localism Bill, Lord Wei has suggested. Again, only time will tell. Borneo Sporenburg, Holland, has been masterplanned as a sustainable and affordable urban extension with good transport links and people-friendly streets. Residents frequently bring tables and chairs into the street for parties
DEMYSTIFYING DESIGN APPRAISAL
The new emphasis on localism suggests that a wider range of people will become actively involved in decisions about design and development, with direct impact on design quality.The Qualityreviewer toolkit can help stakeholders to make better-informed and more thoughtful decisions. By Rob Cowan
One of the government’s first specific announcements on localism in planning has been that land trusts will be allowed to build small numbers of affordable houses without planning permission, if the proposal is overwhelmingly approved in a local referendum.The proposal has been met with some alarm. Will this not mean that people without relevant professional skills will be deciding on the quality of development?Yes, it will. But to some extent that is already the case. Every year one question is asked of hundreds of thousands of planning applications, ranging from household extensions to new settlements: ‘Will this proposal create a well-designed development?’ In many cases the judgement is in the hands of planners, councillors and others who have little or no training in, or experience of, design and who are often unable to draw on specialist support. The difference in future may be that many more people will be involved in considering whether a particular development is suitable for their locality.What they will need is some help in demystifying the process of appraising the design quality of development. This is just what Qualityreviewer has been developed to do. Created for the Homes and Communities Agency, Qualityreviewer helps people to think through the issues. It is not intended to turn every planner, councillor or citizen into a design expert, but it can help them make better-informed and more thoughtful decisions.The Qualityreviewer method assists with getting the best from design and access statements, as well
as helping to determine the planning application or judging the proposal. It supports the development of new skills for planners, councillors, local activists, regeneration professionals, students and anyone else committed to raising standards of design quality. FOCUSING ON QUALITY Qualityreviewer can structure pre-application discussions, focusing on quality, and helping planners and applicants to understand one another. It can structure design and access statements, focusing them on the important issues. It can structure planning applications, and provide a clear and simple basis for appraising their design quality. It can provide the basis for a land trust and its local community to communicate with one another about a proposed housing development. Consider this example of how Qualityreviewer can be used in development control and management. The developer wants to discuss a development proposal. One of the local authority’s staff – let us call her the quality champion for this proposal – sees it as her role to help reconcile the developer’s own interests with the wider public interest, with the hope of achieving an outcome that is better for both sides. The first step is to make sure that the developer understands the site and area, and what policy and guidance apply.The developer’s short written record of his conclusions is useful at this stage in discussions with the local authority’s officers, and will later become part of the design statement.
The planners ask: what is the design concept? In other words: what’s the big idea? The developer explains, and the planners begin to understand how he is thinking. Now they are able to consider the likely impact of the proposed development, and to allocate the local authority’s resources of time and skills accordingly. As it happens, this is both a sensitive site and a fairly large development. Sometimes the local authority’s officers discuss a development proposal in its early stages by exchanging written comments or by meeting to present individual perspectives. In such exchanges or meetings, the highway engineer explains what road widths and radiuses are specified in the regulations; the planner has figures for minimum overlooking distances; the police liaison officer explains which types of layout he or she objects to on security grounds; and so on. In this case the quality champion calls for a different approach. The officers consider what qualities the development could create for the place, and how each of their own particular skills and perspectives could help to create a place with those qualities. The design qualities set out in Qualityreviewer, and the related questions, are used as a prompt for this. The officers start by considering movement and legibility. Who will be able to get around most easily and reach their destinations most conveniently? To whom will the development be easily accessible? How will the proposal
■ Rob Cowan is a director of Urban Design Skills www.urbandesignskills.com
Qualityreviewer can structure design and access statements, focusing them on the important issues. It can structure planning applications, and provide a clear and simple basis for appraising their design quality ... as for the developer, he sees the planning process as having contributed to his scheme’s design quality, rather than having subjected it blindly to a series of unconnected standards, regulations, practices and prejudices ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS…
The Qualityreviewer method explains how to appraise design quality by asking 10 questions.These questions may sound obvious: too often, though, a development proposal goes through the planning process without anyone asking them. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
What is special about the place? How should policy and guidance be applied? What is the design concept? How significant is the scheme’s impact likely to be? What are the design’s strengths and weaknesses? Does the design team have the right skills and approach? 7. How can we ensure that the design will be well executed? 8. Is the scheme likely to be well managed and maintained? 9. Do we need more information and advice? 10. Is the design good enough?
Qualityreviewer is available in book form and, in brief, at www.qualityreviewer.co.uk
02 NEW COMMUNITIES: THE NEW MASTERPLANNING
accommodate existing desire lines for pedestrian movement? How will the proposal promote the use of public transport and cycling? They ask only those questions that seem relevant, and give the issues the attention that is due according to the proposed scheme’s impact and significance. The officers follow on with Qualityreviewer’s questions about space and enclosure; mixed uses and tenures; adaptability and resilience; resources and efficiency; and architecture and townscape. It is not an easy discussion.There will be difficult potential conflicts of opinion and professional perspective to resolve. But by the time the planning application is submitted, the officers – and the councillors who have been involved – all feel that the final development scheme will achieve more for the public interest than they had thought possible. As for the developer, he sees the planning process as having contributed to his scheme’s design quality, rather than having subjected it blindly to a series of unconnected standards, regulations, practices and prejudices.The developer is used to viewing the task of writing a design statement to accompany a planning application as a chore.This time, it is much easier. The design statement has been developing in draft from the start of the project.The site and area appraisal was recorded at the time it was carried out, so now it has only to be accommodated in the design statement.The design principles were carefully thought out, and can now be reproduced in the design statement. This design and access statement, unlike many others, shows a clear relationship between the appraisal and the design principles, and between the design principles and the final scheme. That constitutes a logical story that the local authority, and anyone else with an interest in the planning application, will find easy to understand. The aim of Qualityreviewer is to make this sort of logical thinking more common. It was urgently needed when judgments about design were made mainly through the planning process. The need will be even greater if the government succeeds in involving a wider community involved in approving development.
DELIVERING A CARBON NEUTRAL COMMUNITY
Graylingwell Park will be the UK’s largest carbon neutral development, located on the site of a former hospital near Chichester. Set within 85 acres of parkland grounds, it will provide around 750 new and converted homes along with a range of new community amenities, managed by a Community Development Trust. By Marcus Adams
Graylingwell Hospital was part of network of hospitals and asylums built during the 19th century for those suffering metal illness or with serious disabilities. Many, like Graylingwell, were conceived as self-contained communities, with their own farms and kitchen gardens, orchards, administrative offices, workplaces, chapels, and therapeutic landscapes, in addition to hospital wards and treatment facilities. But as clinical approaches to the treatment of mental health changed, many of these places became redundant, and Graylingwell was amongst 96 hospital sites transferred from the NHS to English Partnerships, as part of the Government initiative to use public sector assets to meet the national housing need. A competitive process undertaken by English Partnerships (now the Homes & Communities Agency) was won by a joint-venture between private developers Linden Homes and Downland Housing Association/Affinity Sutton, primarily because of their commitment to a net carbon zero development, which far exceeded the performance targets.The proposals for the 34-hectare site were developed by a team led by John Thompson & Partners, with Joachim Eble Architektur, Studio Engleback and WSP, and driven by the idea of reinstating Graylingwell as a self-sustaining community by using four key approaches: these are briefly outlined below. 1. COLLABORATIVE PLANNING The winning bid proposed a consensus-led masterplanning process, using techniques pioneered by JTP on their awardwinning Caterham Barracks project, also undertaken for Linden Homes. The Graylingwell Community Planning Weekend was held during March 2008 and involved more than 350 participants including local residents, business people, council officers, arts groups, university representatives and other key stakeholders. The community event revealed great affection for the buildings and landscapes of the former asylum, and served as a reminder of the social importance of these civic institutions. As a consequence, the development team set up the ‘Graylingwell Forum’ for local residents, businesses and interest groups to serve as a platform for regular communication and feedback. From this point, the participative approach to design was effectively an urban ‘change management’ process, with local people having a key role in determining how the Graylingwell site should be integrated into the town, while retaining a sense of identity as a self-sustaining community.
02 NEW COMMUNITIES: THE NEW MASTERPLANNING
2.WORKING WITH THE PAST The masterplan for Graylingwell Park was informed by research into the hospital site, and also the wider urban context, with the final design inspired by the ‘Chichester Cross’ – the cruciform structure of the city centre, which grew up around the crossing point of two main Roman roads.The original hospital was laid out with a strong north-south axis linking the hospital to the orchards/kitchen gardens. A new cross axis was added to this, linking Summersdale Road in the west, to the farm in the east, a strategy that placed the existing listed chapel, and a new green at the very heart of the development. Over time, the clarity of the original hospital had been eroded by a large number of extensions and infill buildings. One of the key urban design approaches was to restore the original structure of the hospital, and then enhance this using new development.This was not only highly sustainable, but also built on the strong sense of place that already existed.A rigorous assessment of all the existing buildings was undertaken to determine what should be retained, with the local community involved in considering appropriate future uses. The original buildings were designed by eminent Victorian architect Sir Arthur Blomfield (1829-99), with the first buildings dating from around 1895. Architecturally, Graylingwell is less institutional in character than other former hospital sites of the same period, due to Blomfield using a Queen Anne Revival style for the design of the core buildings. Existing features were carefully considered in the subdivision of the interiors into a residential mix that includes three-storey houses with gardens, one and two-bedroom apartments, and more quirky ‘loft- style’ attic conversions designed by GillespieYunnie Architects. The new dwellings in the refurbished buildings will be open plan in design, with contemporary finishes used to contrast with the existing period fabric, which will be exposed wherever possible. High ceilings and tall windows will be exploited, and double/triple aspects used to maximise views of the surrounding landscape. In accordance with ambitious eco-homes targets, single-glazed windows will be replaced with double-glazed replicas and inner walls insulated. A parallel study examined the existing parkland which was listed on English Heritage’s Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. Wherever possible, new development was planned around mature trees, and original landscape features such as the patients‘airing courts’, allotments and orchards were
reinstated,and this‘productive landscape’ integrated into a wider network of green infrastructure including ‘edible streets’. 3.CARBON NEUTRAL PLACEMAKING When complete, Graylingwell Park will be the largest carbon neutral development in the UK, with all new building forms designed to maximise daylight and passive heat from the sun. In addition, the demanding energy solution requires each unit, with a south facing roof in phase 1, to accommodate 25m2 of photovoltaic units. Such technological advances place new demands on urban design approaches, with street layouts configured in east-west street orientations,and made wider than usual to prevent overshadowing, and also provide space for the Sustainable Urban Drainage systems (SUDs). Streetscapes are also carefully designed to provide different solutions for the north and south sides in terms of elevational approach, location of habitable rooms, parking, and nature of garden space. This demonstrates how low-energy design demands a greater understanding of unit typologies in the early stages of a project than has previously been required. Graylingwell Park will offer 750 new and converted homes
Graylingwell will offer 750 new and converted homes when complete,
including 300 affordable homes, along with community amenities –
artists’ studios, allotments, a farm shop, gallery space and creative
business office space, all managed by a Community Development Trust. It is estimated the scheme will create around 200 local jobs. Some 622
mature trees have been retained and 1428 new trees, including fruit
trees, are being planted at the scheme
Low-energy design demands a greater understanding of unit typologies in the early stage of a project than has previously been required
Green credentials: residents are encouraged to make the most of cycle
routes and car clubs provided to preserve the ‘green’ environment.
Many of the new homes have photovoltaic roof panels and high levels
of insulation. Heating is provided by a central heating and power plant, all appliances are energy efficient and the homes are expected to use
around a third less water than usual, keeping energy bills to a
minimum.The scheme will meet net zero carbon for the whole
development, Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, Code 6 for Energy, and EcoHomes Excellent on all refurbished buildings
when complete, including 300 affordable homes, along with community amenities – artists’ studios, allotments, a farm shop, gallery space and creative business office space, all managed by a Community Development Trust. It is estimated the scheme will create around 200 local jobs. Some 622 mature trees have been retained and 1428 new trees, including fruit trees, are being planted. Residents are encouraged to make the most of cycle routes and car clubs provided to preserve this ‘green’ environment. Other green approaches in residential design include high levels of insulation and the use of energy efficient appliances. Homes use 33 per cent less water than traditional dwellings, and where possible materials are either recycled, or being sourced within 50 miles of Graylingwell Park to save energy on goods in transit. The existing water tower at the heart of the scheme is a highly visible and a treasured local landmark, and as such, was the natural location for the new energy centre.A combined heat and power plant provides heating and hot water to all homes through gas-powered, low-carbon technology. Excess power generated is fed back into the national grid resulting in lower energy bills for homeowners. An off-site wind farm will offset the remaining CO2 emissions generated. As a whole, the scheme will meet net zero carbon for the whole development, Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, Code 6 for Energy, and EcoHomes Excellent on all refurbished buildings. 4. SEEDING COMMUNITY Good urban form alone cannot guarantee a thriving place, and a range of strategies are being employed at Graylingwell Park to maximize social interaction and engender the sense of belonging required to seed a new community. Some 40 per cent of the homes proposed for the site are tenure-blind affordable units, pepper-potted across the site in small groupings, creating a range of private sale, shared equity and social rented properties. These are all provided in a range of typologies of varying sizes, to encourage the development of a healthy mixed community, made up of people from all backgrounds, and at different life-stages. A cultural strategy has also been developed, in consultation with existing local inhabitants, to bring a sense of energy to the new development in the early phases. Artists’ studios are
therefore included in the mixed-uses located in three ‘hubs’ around the site.The hubs include community facilities, with a listed chapel and mixed-use hall, and commercial uses: a new farm shop, café/gallery, a public house, offices and small local retail outlet. Building on the success of previous experience at Caterham Barracks, it was decided that all the mixed-uses should be owned and operated by a Community Development Trust, run by the new residents and businesses to engender a sense of ownership of Graylingwell Park as a place. A calendar of activities is being developed to act as a catalyst for social interaction. The first Graylingwell Summer fete was held in August with annual events planned for the future. These are intended to draw existing local people into the development, and further nurture good neighbourliness. OUTCOMES:A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO DEVELOPMENT Graylingwell Park represents the latest stage in JohnThompson & Partners’ pursuit of sustainable urbanism: a holistic approach to development in which dynamic new places are created by combining sensitive, but technologically advanced architectures, with existing historic buildings and mature landscapes. It is highly ambitious in terms of low-energy architecture and urban design.The consensus-led approach to design fostered considerable local support, and allowed an outline consent for the masterplan, and detailed consent for Phase 1, granted in March 2009. Construction commenced on site later in the same year, with completion due in 2016. The project has been designed to achieve Building for Life Gold Standard, the national benchmark for neighbourhood design, and has already been identified as an exemplary project by English Heritage in their publication Constructive Conservation in Practice. Graylingwell Park has been awarded Best Low or Carbon Zero Initiative in the Housebuilder Awards 2010 and Sustainable Larger Social Project of the Year 2010 in the Sustainable Housing Awards, organised by Inside Housing and Sustainable Housing in association with the Chartered Institute of Housing. ■ MarcusAdams is Managing Partner,JohnThompson & Partners www.jtp.co.uk/
Community LandTrusts (CLTs) offer a potential solution to delivering development at local scales in urban and rural areas. A typical CLT will acquire land, develop housing and amenities and sell the properties at an affordable price, usually linked to local incomes or fixed at a low percentage of market value. By Tom Moore
In August 2010, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described access to affordable housing as â€˜one of the biggest long-term problems in the countryâ€™. Many people have been priced out of home ownership due to escalating ratios between property values and average incomes.This disparity, coupled with huge waiting lists for the limited supply of social housing, means the trend of rising unmet housing need remains an acute problem. One solution presented is the idea of a Community Land Trust (CLT).A typical CLT will acquire land, develop housing on it, and sell the properties at an affordable price, usually linked to local incomes or fixed at a low percentage of market value. The CLT is able to do this by holding the land in trust, separating its value from that of the building that stands upon it, and leasing it to the home owners on long leases. In this way, a CLT can create permanently affordable housing by fixing the percentage of market value or price the home should be sold at in the future. Interest in the CLT model has grown in recent years and successful CLTs have formed and developed housing across the country, ranging from the north east to the south west. One of the early adopters, St Minver CLT in Cornwall, developed 12 self-build homes which were sold for a third of market value. Resales will be restricted to this percentage, ensuring the homes are perpetually more affordable than the market. With this interest in mind, a National Community Land Trust Network has been created, hosted by the National Housing Federation and supported by Carnegie UK Trust and Community Finance Solutions at the University of Salford.
02 NEW COMMUNITIES: THE NEW MASTERPLANNING
The London Citizens CLT gained overwhelming support for its bid to build a mixed use development in Mile End, east London
COMMUNITY-FOCUSED URBAN DEVELOPMENT
The Network promotes the CLT sector through lobbying and influencing Government and other key partners and supports CLTs by providing much needed training and resources. aims to support CLT development and lobby on behalf of the trusts. URBAN COMMUNITY LAND TRUSTS Capitalising on these developments, the Coalition Government has unveiled plans to support the model.The principal support will be through reform of planning policies intended to create a more enabling structure for CLTs to gain planning permission for small-scale housing developments. However, these plans have so far only referred to CLTs in rural areas and this neglects the interest and development of the model in the urban environment. Urban communities in Leeds and London are particularly keen to utilise the CLT model. Headingley Development Trust is a community-owned trust aiming to promote and develop a sustainable community in north-west Leeds. The area suffers from a high rate of studentification, which is the process and product of concentrated settlements of student housing. As such, the area has a particularly high rate of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs), which are defined as homes shared by three or more unrelated people who do not form a single household. In 2008 a BBC survey identified Headingley as having the lowest level of community cohesion in the country, citing as reasons the high annual population turnover,the transient nature of a large portion of the community, and the demographic imbalances these issues generate. Despite this, the trust has undertaken extensive work and generated widespread community support. It has nearly 1,000 members and manages various projects aimed at stimulating community enterprise and activity.The trust is now seeking to develop a community land trust in order to prioritise local people and families in the allocation of housing. Motivated by the dual aims of providing more affordable housing and rebalancing the community, the trust hopes to create a mixed housing market which can allow a more settled population to thrive and in turn build community cohesion.Backed by the local community and local authority, the trust has explored key strategies to advance their aims.The trust is negotiating to be a preferential partner when private developers are obliged to contribute a portion of affordable housing as part of their
development.This may involve off site provision of affordable housing which could be placed into the community’s ownership, or allocation of a developers’ commuted sum to allow the trust to invest the money and bring surplus student property into use as affordable family housing. Another possible strategy would be to place greater restrictions on the use of properties as HMOs. Although not directly affiliated to the trust, the National HMO Lobby has a strong presence in Leeds and has campaigned for legislation which would allow local authorities more control over the number of HMOs in their area.This would oblige a landlord to gain planning consent for the use of a property as a home of multiple occupation and as such ensure that concentrations of such properties are avoided. This legislation would clearly help the trust’s aims in Headingley as they seek to create a more cohesive and balanced community, but having been agreed by the previous administration the new Coalition Government has decided to repeal the legislation, leaving local authorities unable to exercise any effective control over HMOs.The National HMO Lobby says this‘effectively sabotages’ the campaign’s efforts and undoubtedly runs counter to the problem Headingley Development Trust is trying to solve through their CLT proposal. Another prominent proposal for an urban community land trust is led by the London Citizens group in east London. London Citizens CLT has emerged from the campaigning of the umbrella Citizens UK body which aims to increase the power and influence of communities in public life. The CLT aims to acquire and develop the site of St Clement’s Hospital in Mile End, creating family-sized housing which is affordable in perpetuity. The site is currently owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and negotiations are ongoing as the CLT aims to acquire the land. A team of planners, developers, architects and financiers are on board to provide expertise to the CLT as the scheme develops, while simultaneously the project has a wealth of support from the local community. Schools, mosques, churches and other local institutions are on board in order to ensure the project is not only backed by the local community, but also representative of it. Strong community organising and leadership is at the heart of the CLT’s campaigning.After deciding upon the proposed site, the local community formed a steering group
A team in Digbeth, Birmingham, is proposing to use a small-scale Community Land Trust model to build a small ‘demonstration’ sustainable development, comprising affordable/social housing, green work spaces for environmental organisations and businesses, and a wildlife garden, linked to neighbouring environmental community building,The Warehouse
which attempted, throughout the spring and summer of 2009, to establish contact with the Homes and Communities Agency. When this proved unfruitful, the Mayor of London was propositioned at a London Citizens meting of over 2,000 people at the Barbican in November, at which he pledged to look seriously at the proposal. Queen Mary University’s geography department commissioned an in-depth study of the local area to ask them about community partnerships proposals. Plans were met with overwhelming approval and brought hundreds of new supporters to the campaign, along with potential applicants for housing on the site. The Olympic Park Legacy Company has also met with the group and expressed its potential support for the scheme as a means to create a viable pilot scheme ahead of plans to establish a CLT on its site, post 2012.The community partnership has also
■ Tom Moore works with Community Finance Solutions, an independent CLT research and development unit within Salford University www.communitylandtrusts.org.uk
ST CLEMENT’S URBAN CLT
The London Citizens CLT for the St Clement’s Hospital site brings together planners, urban designers and other practitioners and advisors with an approved HCA delivery partner and an enabling developer.The group has prepared a detailed set of plans for the site, and is currently waiting for the HCA tender process to begin. London Citizens, an alliance of 160 member institutions representing faith institutions, universities and schools, trade unions and community groups, is made up of The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO), South London Citizens and West London Citizens. London Citizens has its roots in the campaign group Citizens UK, which set up social enterprise the UK Centre for Civil Society, which in turn runs the College of Community Organising (CoCO). CoCO offers training opportunities for those who wish to take part in community organising. One of CoCO’s first clients was David Miliband MP, who was advised on how to build a ‘Movement for Change’ within the Labour Party. At the completion of the contract, the Movement for Change had trained over a thousand local leaders in basic community organising skills, and has been hailed by Ed Miliband as an important legacy from the Labour leadership contest. The London Citizens CLT has formed a registered community land trust with 18 trustees, evenly split between potential residents, local community representatives from
schools, churches, mosques, Queen Mary University and professional practitioners.Although community land trusts are mature delivery vehicles in rural contexts, there have been specific challenges inherent in forming an urban community land trust.‘The main issue has been defining the community, especially somewhere as diverse as east London,’ says Dave Smith, Community Organiser for London Citizens.‘Our solution is to work through a really wide range of local social institutions and organisations, all of whom are represented via the trustees.’ The community has already invested considerable work in exploring the area and preparing the plans, and has responded extremely positively to the demands of the development process.‘I hope that, when the bid assessment process is underway, the huge mount of value that we’ve already brought to understanding the potential of this site is appreciated,’ says Smith.‘It’s been a long struggle for political recognition and support, and through building up a great team that combines planners sitting side-by-side with potential residents in our board meetings, it is a fight we know we can win.’ Community-based schemes like this, says Smith, can help to prevent urban drift and gentrification, and provide an in-built subsidy that will grow rather than diminish over time. But above all else, they will stand as a lasting legacy to what organised communities can achieve. Smith hopes that the recognition that this scheme is attracting will make others take note. We’ve had visits from local councilors, then the leader of Tower Hamlets Borough Council, and then the mayor of London at our people’s assemblies, says Smith.And before the recent general election, the three leaders of our main political parties accepted an invitation to the trust’s public assembly, at which 2,500 people put the case to them for community land trust homeownership, live on national television.’ Smith also hopes that more funds will be available for communities in future, instead of ‘going instead to someone who proposes to write a glossy report about national housing policy and the “sad sights” to be found within parts of town they have only ever visited on Wikipedia’. And with Big Society promises just around the corner, maybe this time he’ll be in luck.
02 NEW COMMUNITIES: THE NEW MASTERPLANNING
set up an Industrial and Provident Society that is actively fundraising so that it may become a viable project delivery vehicle. The body has also attracted a respectable and HCA approved investment partner and developer. There is a Mayoral commitment to the delivery of a Community LandTrust in London. Boris Johnson made a pledge in his manifesto to deliver at least one CLT in the capital by 2011, while also agreeing to the possible use of the HCA as a vehicle through which this could be achieved. The possibility of transferring the publicly-owned land in Mile End into community ownership offers the opportunity to fulfil this commitment, but in June 2010 the pledge to deliver a CLT was downgraded to an agreement to ‘investigate opportunities’ for a potential trust. Despite this lowering of ambition, the trust remains hopeful of taking the site into community ownership and using it for the benefit of local people in an area where housing demand significantly exceeds supply. They also intend to explore opportunities for a CLT on the site of the Olympic Park in Stratford, ensuring there is a legacy of community benefit from the 2012 games. Community land trusts offer a practical contribution to resolving the affordable housing crisis. They also offer government the opportunity to fulfil electoral promises of decentralisation of power and influence, empowerment of local communities, and increased partnership working. Policy approaches which allow local areas greater influence in their housing markets or encourage public land transfer can help achieve these aims. The CLTs in Headingley and in Mile End offer workable solutions to problems in their local areas, backed by local communities and supported by a wider community land trust sector that is beginning to mature.The newly-formed National CLT Network will offer practical technical support for trusts as they aim to bring schemes forward and build on the accomplishments of the early adopters. All urban CLTs need now is greater assurance that the reality of the government’s ‘Big Society’ matches the rhetoric.
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ENABLING COMMUNITIES TO DELIVER THEIR OWN FUTURES
INFORMATION, IDENTITY AND INDIVIDUALITY RE-ENGINEERING THE CITY: INVISIBLE INFRASTRUCTURE
CREATIVE AND CRITICAL: BEYOND BOUNDARIES
LEARNING TO LOVE SHARED SPACE
ENABLING COMMUNITIES TO DELIVER THEIR OWN FUTURES
A Big Society goal is to enable communities to deliver their own futures. We believe that if we can provide the tools, skills and resources required to deliver self-sustaining communities, then this goal is achievable and realistic. By John Brown and Suzanna Pembroke Our first consideration is: how can the inherent values of place be identified and used to empower communities to ‘buyin’ to their local areas? The inherent values of a place may be defined on two levels. Firstly, there are those values that have been identified by previous or existing communities, either through legislature (protection), use-association (tradition) or cultural references (commemoration). These may be considered ‘expert’ values, which require prior knowledge or education. Secondly, there are those values which are universally apparent, and may appeal to people on a basic level, with little or no prior knowledge required. Generally these values can be linked to sense-perceptions (awe, comfort, familiarity, beauty, disquiet). Historic places and features play a major role in shaping identity. Communities that have a long history with a place understand, often at a taken-for-granted level, the role certain buildings, places and icons play in their concept of local identity. However ways of translating this sense of heritage to people who are migrants from other places has been more difficult. Conversely, both communities may relate to the nonexpert values of a place, which may gain precedence in any community-led process. Where ‘new’ communities have been entrenched in an area for some time, but have not had past values communicated to them, those values may be lost or unappreciated, or even viewed negatively. In undertaking retrofit or place-making initiatives that
benefit the whole community, we need to be able to account for the presence of new groups, and also challenge our own assumptions about what is considered ‘heritage’ by existing groups. Groups such as BEN (Black Environment Network) recognise the role heritage plays in linking people with place. It is important to define those assets within the landscape that have a cultural value of either an ‘expert’, or a ‘universal’ nature, The model we might adopt is that of Rapid Asset Assessment, based on using values defined by English Heritage’s Conservation Principles for assessing significance. This baseline data survey then allows assets to be assessed spatially, relative to one another, and their value communicated. Our second question is: who are the communities that ‘hold a stake’ in a place, and how can their appreciation of placevalue enhance social capital? In the United Kingdom, our local communities are composed of people with different ages, ethnicity, classes, health and social experience. The way in which these social factors are handled during regeneration and maintenance of the urban environment can lead to opportunities for better equality, better diversity of populations and inclusion of all, thus empowering vulnerable groups and improving the communities’ wellbeing and resilience. Or they can destabilise communities by creating social barriers, false stereotypes and enforcing disempowerment of vulnerable groups. Assisting local communities to take ownership over these projects has been shown to go a long way towards
03 EXISTING COMMUNITIES
enhancing social capital.An exemplar of this is the BoveyTracey Climate Action Community. Places can be shaped to encourage a greater appreciation and valuation by those using that place. If communities understand the value of features within their local space, as outlined above, and not only value but actively engage with these features, it is likely that social capital will be enhanced. The promotion of positive norms and the fostering of community-led projects with reference to placeshaping has strong potential to introduce positive change to urban landscapes. To achieve this, an understanding of the spectrum of social factors present within our communities, and an appreciation of place and what works for them is critical when we engage with them to bring about change. This can be through a combination of open public consultation, multimedia consultation (paper survey, online survey, social media focus groups), reaching less visible groups through ‘already trusted envoys’ of those communities. A third consideration is: what barriers prevent communities from laying claim to values of place, and enhancing their social capital through place-shaping? Historic forces, environmental conditions and social factors, including ideas of social class, hierarchical roles and gender have played a big part in the development of our current urban environments. The communities that inhabit these places have often inherited an urban form which was designed not for their demographic, but usually by a body of people from a different socio-economic background. Therefore the physical space is at odds with their needs and values. One of the tools we use to understand how people engage with place measures the factors that people value about certain aspects of the physical environment.The features being measured range from green infrastructure and public spaces, to museums or arts-focused venues, heritage places and eating and drinking venues. The tool calculates the degree to which our perception of place is affected by external influences such as health, accessibility, ethnic background and employment status. The tool allows us to identify the strength of these external factors on our perception of an area and how they affect our value. The measuring of these factors allows us to
Our tools help us to understand how people engage with place by measuring what they value about certain aspects of the physical environment
identify community profiles that are not benefiting from a place or feature in a positive way, this then allows these communities to receive more attention, and the reason for their lack of positive values to be addressed. Empowering communities to lay claim to places and to enact change, requires the identification of these barriers. Our fourth concern is: how are these barriers and challenges being overcome so as to enhance value and identity of a place for the future? It is in identifying those community groups who will invest in a place that sustainability for the future can best be achieved. Consultation with community groups is aimed at defining concepts of significance of place
from the perspective of all groups claiming interest or investment in a place. Often these interests are based on ‘intangibles’, associated with memory, oral history, and metaphysical perceptions of the place, as well as physical or commemorative structures. Sometimes, although all groups want to be involved in the consultation process, tension between groups can develop regarding rights to speak, and which group’s interpretation of appropriate use is valid. Mediating this potential for tension is a key part of the process of empowerment.Also important is the need to recognise and engage those trusted with the role of speaking for the group, and those with the ability to ‘translate’ cultural norms and
WIRED AND WIRELESS FRAMEWORKS A range of technology and service-driven organisations are increasingly developing concepts of connectivity and ‘invisible infrastructure’ that complement the built environment, both in terms of transport and travel planning – smart cards and real time routing systems – and the wired and wireless frameworks that ensure information, data and knowledge flow freely. Companies like engineering and technology services company Siemens; IBM, the computer, technology and IT consulting corporation; Cisco, providers of networking and communications technology; and Veolia, a leader in environmental services and passenger transport, are now promoting their capabilities in terms of visioning the city as a dynamic whole.This ‘big picture’ take on the city is supported by specialist systems and skills from the fields of telecommunications, advanced transport systems and sustainable energy and services provision, and the related monitoring and comparative data provision. Meanwhile, a growing number of city leaders are beginning to realise that urban success is interlinked with support for knowledge economies, and are investing in programmes that improve the quality of social, environmental and communication infrastructure.This ‘smart city’ approach, underpinned by rapid developments in ICT, is seen as an important advance in the
Cities are getting smarter: improvements in quality of life, economic viability and well-being are achieved through the use of information technologies that support planning and development processes as well as the operation of invisible city infrastructure. By Tom Evans and Peter Stonham
03 EXISTING COMMUNITIES
RE-ENGINEERING THE CITY: INVISIBLE INFRASTRUCTURE
Courtesy of CityEngine
Cities – and people – are changing. New technologies are connecting and enabling us; we’re also gearing up to take matters reaqlting to our towns and cities into our own hands as the Coalition Government throws out proposals to implement ‘open source’ planning and boost social enterprise and social capital. One of the cornerstones of our new positivity is access to ever increasing amounts of data and information; as we enter 2011, it’s remarkable to consider how much data is around us, much of it ‘off the radar’ of traditional urban planners and placemakers. Australian writer Dan Hill puts it well:‘We can see several buildings, a dozen cars, and quite a few people, pavements dotted with street furniture. Observe the physical activity on the street. But what can’t we see? We can’t see how the street is immersed in a twitching, pulsing cloud of data.This is a new kind of data, collective and individual, aggregated and discrete, open and closed, constantly logging impossibly detailed patterns of behaviour.The behaviour of the street.’
process of urbanisation. Pioneering thinking on this approach to city design and management began in the mid 2000s with work at the MIT design laboratory. Back in 2006, William J Mitchell wrote that emerging technologies are poised to reshape our urban environment: ‘These days,’ he wrote, ‘computers are mostly devices in drag, under the surface microchips and software are what make otherwise inert lumps of metal and plastic useful. Our cities are fast transforming into artificial eco systems of interconnected. interdependent, intelligent digital organisms. This is the fundamentally new technological condition confronting architects and designers in the 21st century.’ One of the areas currently is being revolutionised is transport. Smart transportation systems – relating to both private cars and public transportation – open up the possibility of restructuring urban transport and energy distribution systems. As far as the private car goes, the thinking is to remodel its use to dovetail with other transport options and to combine vehicle usage for greater efficiency and economy of space. Power supply is a part of this equation, and the electric car often figures in this process. The communal bike hire schemes now familiar in European cities, and launched in London in autumn 2010, are a potential precursor of similar schemes for motorised transport. One key objective is to make more efficient use of road space, for instance in avoiding wasteful time and energy consumption that drivers spend in the search for parking spaces. Systems are beginning developed that communicate searchable and realtime parking opportunities to drivers via communication systems, just as public transport options are frequently presented in real time, personalised by systems such as Transport Direct and Transport for London’s Journey Planner. Veolia are one company that sees public transportation networks as the lifeblood of a city and essential to sustainable urban development.The company has helped to develop ‘mode integration’ (seamless coordination of a range of transport modes: buses, trains, shuttles, taxis, car-share, bikes) in many cities, such as Bordeaux, Nice and Rouen in France, Limburg Province in the Netherlands, Bogota, and Columbia. Most of these systems are intangible; not necessarily visible to the passenger, but are critical for providing quality passenger and
pedestrian experiences and improving urban movement. Integrated transport relies on accurate and integrated information and new technological developments means that this is now a possibility. Transport service providers are now beginning to see opportunities and, as Ruth Otte of Veolia Transport notes:‘Transportation systems and service providers need to employ technology to make sure there are no gaps; that the system is reliable and runs smoothly.’
(from top): Siemens sustainability centre, London, and wireless Pudong, Shanghai
CONNECTING CITY-SCALE SYSTEMS A leader in information technology development, IBM, defines a ‘smart city’ in terms of the improvements in quality of life and economic well-being that are achieved through applying information technologies to planning, building and operation of city infrastructure. ‘New technologies,’ says Ian Abbott-Donnelly from IBM Big Green Innovations, ‘are capable of understanding and connecting city-scale systems: they can sense, analyse and integrate data, enabling the city to respond intelligently to the needs of citizens.’The company now offers a business model to local authorities in the UK that, it says, could potentially change the way local government is managed. A number of local councils are now working with IBM, who manage the IT infrastructure, procurement, customer service and workforce development functions, with the intention of allowing agencies to focus on delivering critical services to citizens. Cisco has been working with IBM on the Amsterdam Smart City initiative in which citizens, governments and companies are working in partnership to make more efficient use of energy, water and mobility to create a more sustainable city.The initiative forms part of the company’s ongoing work aimed at transforming physical communities into connected communities with the aim of achieving economic, social and environmental sustainability. Their ‘Smart+Connected Communities’ programme encapsulates a new way of thinking about how communities are designed, built, managed, and renewed and is being rolled out in cities across the world. The networking firm even intends to transform the Olympic Park in London into a ‘smart and connected’ community after the 2012 Olympic Games The proposed schemes will see wired services provided to homes, schools and transportation systems in the area and the
SMART CITIES The global engineering company Siemens has developed a portfolio of solutions aimed at helping city managers to develop sustainable urban areas.Their ‘City of the Future’ was launched in March 2009 at the Siemens Center in Singapore and showcased Siemens’ portfolio of smart, green, mobile and safe city solutions.‘The City of the Future,’ says Lothar Herrmann, President of Siemens Singapore, ‘illustrates Siemens’ holistic response to the megatrends for metropolitan cities. Through our technologies, we address challenges of highly urbanised areas including those of mobility, security and efficient city management.’ The company is also set to open a £30 million landmark sustainability centre in London’s Docklands in early 2012.The centre, in the Royal Victoria Docks, will be a flagship for East London’s Green Enterprise District and will showcase new technology from around the world. Andreas Goss, Chief Executive at Siemens plc said: ‘Our aim is to create an attractive focal point that celebrates London’s ambition and leadership in green technologies and sustainability. Siemens is at the heart of providing sustainable solutions from renewable energy generation, to low-carbon transport and urban infrastructure.’ It is evident that by tailoring specific services to the changing needs of cities and their citizens, a growing number of companies are pursuing new business opportunities and are increasingly becoming involved in the evolution of urban areas. Smart innovations in transport face numerous hurdles: investment, standardisation of equipment and co-ordination between public and private sectors. Pioneering work is being undertaken in cities across the world, but it will be through good policy decisions and true partnerships at a local level that cities will make the most of emerging opportunities and become smarter places.
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establishment of an Innovation Centre,creating a hub for technical excellence and development. Phil Smith, vice president of Cisco UK,says: ‘The creation of Smart+Connected Communities will be an important societal transformation over the next 10 years,with global governments and communities creating new possibilities for the way their populations, live, work, play and learn.’
Increasingly, the challenges inherent in highly urbanised areas – mobility, security and efficient city management – are being addressed by technology
CREATIVE AND CRITICAL: BEYOND BOUNDARIES IN BRISTOL
A great opportunity and the will to go beyond custom, practice and precedent – a new shared space scheme in Bristol shows that creative planning and effective risk management can result in the making of a popular and accessible public space. By John Richfield
Serendipity played its part in the creation of the new space. Faced with the potential need to cut down mature trees to accommodate a complex highway redesign, the champions group realised that a shared space scheme was an obvious contender. In addition, a river culvert and underground cabling arrangements pointed to a large, open space as a positive solution
Whilst working on traffic management plans for the Cabot Circus area in Bristol, my colleagues and I realised that we had the potential to turn a complex, messy area of small service roads, clogged with through traffic, from a challenge into a great opportunity: the creation of an attractive new public space, park and walking and cycling routes. Tucked in behind a hotel development close to the new Cabot Circus retail complex in Bristol city centre, the historic, but little-used, St Matthias park had been bisected in Victorian times by St Matthias Park Road, and subsequently cut off from the inner city by the post-war inner circuit road. We saw the potential for an area of shared space that would create a new public ‘square’, enlarge the park and improve access for cyclists and walkers to new residential development. The increased footfall would not only improve pedestrian access to the new Cabot Circus shopping centre from the St Jude’s area, but also help to rejuvenate the residential areas along adjacent River Street and in the surrounding zone, offering a civilised and relaxed transition between the retail core and an area of largely social housing. Our first step was to explore the impact of several ideas on the network and on road safety. The shared space remains adopted highway, and we looked closely at existing regulation and guidance, interpreting this in such a way that parking
restrictions, the removal of existing ‘through’ traffic, and a completely shared surface worked well for us. We tried to challenge traditional thinking. Most guidance is predicated on the need to apportion road space and road time, separate different users and ultimately apportion responsibility. In our risk assessment, we didn’t look simply at the risks inherent in creating the shared space, we also considered the risk of the alternative if we didn’t: the challenge of having a rush of fast traffic using a through road, pedestrians and cyclists trying to cross that traffic stream, and children playing in the same area. We judged the lesser risk to be that of handing back responsibility to drivers by creating a space that looks so unlike a public highway or a typical ‘carriageway’ it creates a level of uncertainty that induces drivers, entirely subconsciously, to take more care. And now, one year on, that’s exactly what has happened, and we have ended up with a very comfortable and democratic space. I’m often asked whether we feel that we stuck our necks out for this project, and I suppose that, in a very calculated and measured way, we did. Sometimes we can be intimidated by rule books. The project did not feel, to me, particularly risky, but, because of understandable caution in the face of radical ideas we were frequently being told that our approach was too difficult. But we had thought clearly about the issues around
shared space and had a common understanding of how it works, so we were able to sift the advice and respond constructively to the genuine concerns and quietly and effectively deal with any unfounded negativity. In our department, about half the people cycle to work and very few drive. We enjoy an atmosphere of wanting to push the boundaries, within the realm of understandable caution. For us, the key to success was in understanding how to be creative with the rulebook.
The new walkways and public spaces around the park, with landscape design by New Leaf Studios, are becoming a de facto playground for a newly-relocated Muslim girls’ school, bringing life and laughter to this part of the city centre. Car parking is available in River Street, the location of new residential development development.Thermoplastic paint is totally absent throughout the scheme, and each parking space has a tow-away warning sign on the kerb
ESTABLISHING BEHAVIOUR FROM DAY ONE The scheme incorporates several distinct zones, but these were designed as one space. We opted for a ‘Restricted Zone’ (no parking at any time on the highway), managing to get permissions from the DfT finalised within three months. I’m aware from other schemes in the UK that establishing new behaviour in a shared space, especially parking enforcement, from day one is very important. We enforced the new parking framework from the beginning with great success. We stuck to a very simple message: don’t park anywhere at any time, and (in the square) don’t load anywhere at any time.We leafleted people for the first week or so, instead of giving out tickets, and then that was it.We’ve no lines or signs at all except for entry signs and half a dozen repeater signs; it’s very low-key.All the parking that is allowed is off highway, under the control of either the City Housing Dept or Solon Housing Association, and is separately enforced by a simple tow-away scheme, at no cost to the land owner, which acts as an effective deterrent. ■ John Richfield is a traffic engineer with Bristol City Council www.bristol.gov.uk/
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The new main space introduces uncertainty to drivers by removing clutter and the familiar language of the highway: lamp posts and trees replace signs and lines.The open areas, surrounded by shaded, leafy green spaces, are well-used by pedestrians, cyclists and cars. Paving defines and articulates the spaces
We tried to challenge traditional thinking ... in our risk assessment, we didn’t look simply at the risks inherent in creating the shared space, we also considered the risk of the alternative if we didn’t John Richfield, Bristol City Council St Matthias park has been re-connected to the city centre.The new park and public spaces are already proving very popular with local residents, and with cyclists/pedestrians enjoying the new access route, gardens and seating areas
PARTNERSHIP WORKING:TRUST,ADVICE AND DECISION-MAKING
The masterplanning of and detail design of the new space was worked out at a series of meetings. For Richard Matthews, Bristol City Council planner, collaborative working underpinned the project’s successful delivery.‘As a result of the re-working of streets necessary for the Cabot Circus development, I had already formed a key group of practitioners that met fortnightly. It brought together disciplines from engineering to urban design to parking managers.We formed a relationship, and trust had been built.’ This key group was specifically referred to as the street design group – not the highways group – and, led by three ‘champions’ (John Richfield from Bristol City Council’s highways department, Richard Matthews from planning, and Ray Brown, a developer with the Bristol Alliance), it looked creatively and critically at the ‘rules’ of highway engineering.‘While we took every opportunity to get expert input into the project, we weren’t asking other people to make decisions, although ultimately we needed complete buy-in when the time came for formal approvals’ says Richfield.The core group of three fundamentally influenced the decisionmaking of the Street Design group, pushing through the necessary changes to existing outline highway scheme.
‘In the past, there have been standard ways of designing roads,’ says Matthews.‘We kept asking ourselves: what sits behind that rule or that standard approach? We sized up the objectives, and looked for ways to deliver them that were not necessarily standardised.We were also fortunate in having a developer on board who supported the scheme; that went a long way to making it happen.’ The space that is now Champion Square was formerly a space ‘left over’ after a large car park was built in the 1960s. So, the great opportunity was to create something that stitched the streets back together, says Matthews.The new spaces are much more flexible in terms of access and connecting busy Bond Street with this area.‘We were very keen to make sure that the major Cabot Circus development did its bit to try and connect, and did not turn its back on other areas of the city.’
For the developer, Ray Brown, representing (at the time) the Bristol Alliance, the space has enhanced the location and access for a new hotel on the site.‘I am very pleased with how it worked out. It’s a great success in terms of enabling the sharing of space for living and working’. But he stresses that getting vital buy-in can be down to good communication and visualisation of the end results.‘At first, the hotel team found it difficult to appreciate the proposals because at the time we had road works, car park works and house building in progress, and it was difficult to visualise how the space would end up. But I feel that we have created a much better space at the rear of the hotel than was originally proposed.’ By Juliana O’Rourke
The new space has created a conduit through from the new public space, Champion Square, to the city centre.The new route represents a major change from plans for a standard highway scheme with carriageways and footways
Five years ago in Ashford, Kent, an innovative public realm and traffic management scheme was set in motion. In late summer 2010, as the scheme ‘beds down’, lead designer Whitelaw Turkington revisits the project to celebrate successes and consider the practical lessons learned. By Juliana O’Rourke ASHFORD: CHALLENGING CONVENTIONS
The Ashford scheme challenged conventional ways of building highways by reclaiming significant areas of public realm once dominated by heavy traffic on the major A292 three-lane Ashford ring road – otherwise known as the ‘race track’ – for use by a mix of pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, buses, taxis and all public realm users. The first phase of the project was completed in November 2008. Shared space removes the traditional segregation of motor vehicles, pedestrians and other road users, creating quality, two-way streets in which drivers, cyclists and pedestrians have equal priority. Conventional road priority management systems and devices such as kerbs, yellow and white lines, road signs and traffic signals are replaced with an integrated, people-oriented public space. Although demonstrably successful in terms of civic benefit and road safety, shared space remains controversial: as it gains in popularity and acceptance across the UK – the recently published Manual for Streets 2 (MfS2) includes a call for the de-cluttering of UK streets – its design, scale and implementation remain hotly debated issues. At a RUDIorganised event in summer 2010 – one of a series of such events – Whitelaw Turkington, lead designer of the Ashford project’s Integrated Design Team (IDT), invited a range of urban, landscape and highways practitioners, politicians, policymakers and representatives of the blind and disabled to Ashford to explore and use the shared space and to share knowledge and ideas about how it works, and how to make it better: key issues are discussed in the following pages.
‘There is no doubt,’ says Ashford advisor and urban movement specialist Ben Hamilton Baillie,‘that when the history of urbanism and public space is written,the scheme inAshford will be seen as an important landmark…the first large-scale scheme to consciously tackle a major traffic issue through shared space…’. For Hamilton Baillie, shared space is a much bigger issue than highway rules and traffic flows. ‘It’s about how we facilitate civility’, he states.The background to Ashford is a landmark shift from streets that are tightly regulated and expensively controlled to ones that rely on the highly developed ability of humans to interact. It’s only relatively recently that we’ve attempted to segregate street and highway uses, he says. Shared space is, for Ashford’s design team, a one-time norm rather than an intrinsically innovative concept. But although informal or shared spaces – and the good behaviour of those who use them – are familiar from any provincial market square or car park, when highways are concerned most drivers have become fully accustomed to segregation and control, complete with a familiar language of signs, yellow lines, white lines and flashing lights. As with so many issues of urban development in a changing world, learning to love shared space is just as much about behaviour change, clear communication and personal responsibility as getting the design, budgets, delivery and management right. GETTING THE DETAILS RIGHT Yet getting the details right is, of course, very important – for local residents,for visitors,for politicians and for local authorities. Hamilton Baillie warns that shared space schemes will rarely be popular in their first months, as they take time to ‘bed down’.Yet getting the details right from the outset goes a long way to gaining positive acceptance: a fact that the Ashford Integrated
Design Team (IDT) freely acknowledges. There are several obvious and very important, big wins: traffic speeds halved to around 20 mph or less,no serious traffic incidents reported since November 2008, the creation of a series of popular new public spaces such as Elwick Square with its totally shared surface. In addition, the creation of attractive rain gardens to calm a residential section of the old ring road,and the delivery of a SUD system in an adopted highway are positive achievements, yet it’s clear that many non-designers have other priorities – and that these need to be acknowledged and discussed.The resistance of blind, partially sighted and disabled people has not been overcome by involvement in extensive consultation, and issues of lax parking enforcement, poor maintenance and confusion over funding have become priorities for someAshford residents. ‘For me,’ says Lindsey Whitelaw, ‘because it was four or five years ago when we were designing this scheme, we didn’t know about mixed messages.’ In one or two parts of the scheme, she says,‘for example at County Square, we were asked to put in a feeder lane for access to car parking and, as a result, the design
Elwick Road, alias ‘the racetrack’, before the transformation
03 EXISTING COMMUNITIES
LEARNING TO LOVE SHARED SPACE
The gateway: the detailed design of kerbs, lighting and paving contributes to ‘visual narrowing’, signalling the gateway or transition zone into the shared space. A report by Kent County Council in September 2010 indicated that, 18 months after the system was implemented, at least 10,000 vehicles a day travel through the shared space zone and the majority travels within the 15 to 20mph range.This puts traffic flow back at pre-project levels after a brief drop, suggesting that locals are becoming familiar with the new circumstances. Research from Europe indicates that it is possible to keep 14,500 vehicles a day moving through complex shared spaces: there is increasing empirical observation of a critical qualitative threshold between human-vehicle traffic interaction at speeds of less than 19-22 mph (Hamilton-Baillie and Jones, 2005) that appears to spring from sensory and communication abilities
Width matters: Road widths and use of materials send powerful signals to drivers.With road widths, every centimetre counts. Crossing a road that’s 6m wide is much more comfortable and easier than one that’s 6.2m wide, says Whitelaw.The 6m width is crucial for two-way roads, as it has been shown to slow traffic down. Elwick Road, however, is 7m wide in order to accommodate buses and cycles, although design features such as kerbs, lampposts and surface materials contribute to effective visual narrowing.The late shared space pioneer Hans Monderman warned designers not to create streets that are between 6m and 7m wide: if you can’t do 6m, go wider than 7m. Many streets in the UK tend to be designed and constructed at 6.5 or 6.6m wide, which is an extremely uncomfortable width for cyclists because it encourages slightly greater vehicle speeds, say designers. If 6m widths aren’t possible, advised Monderman, jump to 7m
03 EXISTING COMMUNITIES
Local authorities simply cannot deliver successful shared space schemes if major divisions between internal departments – highways, landscape and maintenance – involved in the public realm remain. Directors and politicians must learn, as in Ashford, how to overcome these boundaries.When collaborative working takes place, true placemaking happens has mixed traffic management and highway engineering with place-making. We didn’t get it right, and the result is confusing for drivers.’ Minor design changes to this area are now underway – but many local drivers are resistant to change, and some perceptual damage, however easy to fix, has been done. ‘One danger with the shared space approach comes of trying to mix and confuse segregation with integration,’ suggests Hamilton Baillie.‘You can’t do that.The underpinning philosophy must always be clear. We will continue to need highways, motorways and trunk roads, and they need to be segregated as they’re single purpose.’ Public space and the public realm, however, is opposite in every respect. ‘At the outset of any project, we need to be very clear about whether the space is highway, or whether it’s public space. In the middle of a town like Ashford, the arguments are clear that it’s public realm.’ The Ashford scheme, conceived as a shared space exemplar for the UK on a grand scale, was undoubtedly at the more expensive end of the scale at £15.8 million, including off site works, junction improvements, decluttering and the reconfiguration of the ring road to two-way traffic. Although the entire ring road was converted to two-way traffic, just under half was ‘designed’ as shared space. The remainder was decluttered, with underpasses and obstructions (guard railing) removed. The cost for 1.1 km of designed shared space was £9m.The majority of funding came from DCLG, supplemented with a mixture of European,Ashford County Council and Kent County Council funding, section 106 agreements and local stakeholder contributions. But both client and designers are quick to point out that Ashford is a shared space scheme at one end of a spectrum. ‘We were very fortunate in having a client who had the political will and instigated an integrated design team from the outset,’ says Whitelaw. ‘Ashford is about that incredible process of buying in to a vision, getting excited about
Courtesy and controlled crossings: The scheme’s single Puffin crossing caused Hamilton Baillie several sleepless nights:‘Having a green traffic light facing drivers as they enter Elwick Square ‘scared the hell out of me,’ he says.‘I’m glad to say that it doesn’t seem to have unduly damaged the scheme’. Courtesy crossings, unlike controlled crossings, have no legal status, but simply act as a guide for the pedestrian. Feedback indicates that, for drivers and the public, there is some confusion between the two, and the IDT is monitoring both types of crossings to see how they perform over time. Groups representing the blind, disabled and visually impaired would like to see more controlled crossings and more controls
Design detail: Raised bus borders are 165mm high in order to cope with bus access. Bus clearways, if required, are delineated with vanilla blocks instead of yellow lines: where possible material, textures and colour are used to give visual and tactile clues to footways and carriageways. Glass beads in the kerbs glow like cats’ eyes at night. In future, double and triple kerbs, along with more sophisticated transitions between footways and kerbs, could be used to create interim spaces for cyclists, pedestrians and the visually impaired.There are many design implications around creating more accessible environments that designers are only beginning to be aware of, hence the need for ongoing workshops, and study exercises
Establishing new behaviour: One lesson learned is that it is vital to establish new patterns of use at the outset, as the way a scheme is used from its day one will tend to persist.Ashford opted for a restricted parking zone: a reversal of traditional enforcement practice in that lines and signage designate permitted parking practice, and no lines or signage means no parking whatsoever.The unfamiliarity of this approach for many drivers, plus the time taken to introduce appropriate gateway signage, led to problems with parking enforcement from day one.A new approach agreed between highways authorities will see new enforcement practice begin in summer 2010.‘We need to be really careful on the restricted zones, says Kent County Council highways engineer Jamie Watson, a member of the IDT.‘We need ongoing education’
There is an emerging language here: low speed areas, transition zones, visual narrowing. I’m hoping that we can develop a common language between engineers, urban designers, landscape architects and all others to apply these principles, and so improve accessibility throughout our towns Ben Hamilton Baillie, urban movement specialist
how we could change this place,and puttingAshford on the map.’ Whitelaw and the design team stress that local authorities simply cannot deliver successful shared space schemes if major divisions between internal departments – highways, landscape and maintenance – involved in the public realm remain.Directors and politicians must learn, as in Ashford, how to overcome these boundaries. When collaborative working takes place, true placemaking happens.‘The new spaces are also about economic viability,’ saysTheresaTrussell, Kent County Council.‘We needed to break down the ring road as it cut up the town and impeded development. It forced locals to drive into town.We needed to show that we could ‘mend before extend’; to increase Ashford’s marketability and to attract quality development.’ The best thing from shared space expert Hamilton Baillie’s point of view is that the Ashford scheme is up and running, and working well. ‘It provides a precedent and a basis for experimentation and questioning in the UK, which we have desperately needed for many years,’ he says. Judith Armitt, managing director of Ashford’s Future, the agency overseeing Ashford’s £2.5bn public and private sector growth programme, said:‘This bold approach to urban planning has made our town centre more attractive and accessible. It is playing a key role in unlocking the development potential of Ashford and, above all, it has improved road safety.’
Greening and SUDs: Reed beds filter the water run-off from the hard paved areas.The water is filtered and attenuated, with any surplus fed back into the drainage system. Future plans aim to recycle the water for watering the reed beds and other planting areas. In West Street, the IDT worked with the residents to create a central green and SUDs feature, with seating and crossing points, in what was once the centre of a busy road. Maintenance has been an issue in Ashford, although much of Elwick Square, and the SUD system reed beds, have been designed for minimal maintenance. Maintaining the granite surfaces has proven to be the biggest challenge for the highway authority, which is continuing to explore the best options
INCLUSIVE DESIGN Whilst recognising that extensive consultation did happen in Ashford, Geraint Evans from Guide Dogs still feels that the design is excluding some users. He supports the general principles of shared space:‘slowing the traffic down, improving the space, and giving ownership back to the pedestrian, I think it sounds brilliant…’ However he still has concerns about the removal of pedestrian crossings in Ashford (there is one lightcontrolled pedestrian crossing) and the introduction of courtesy crossings. ‘These crossings rely on eye contact, which for certain disabled people, visually impaired people in particular, is very difficult,’ he says. Hamilton Baillie and the IDT do not necessarily agree. There is a widespread misunderstanding that to successfully navigate shared space pedestrians need to make eye contact, says Hamilton Baillie. ‘It isn’t true.What we designers are aiming to do is to change the brain processing of the driver.’
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Responsibility for actions and safety is being passed to individuals, and that process is, by definition, uncomfortable, he adds.‘If we don’t feel completely safe using the space, then so much the better. Because there’s traffic about, and traffic isn’t safe. The worst thing is to establish a false sense of security, for example at pelican crossings, because that way you’re likely to expose yourself to greater danger.’ Drivers anticipate pedestrian movement, and eye contact is not essential. One of the ways of testing this – which several members of the study group engaged with – is to simply walk backwards into the space. There was much discussion of the civility of the majority of drivers, and the instinctive care with which most of them crossed the shared spaces.The majority of pedestrians and cyclists that RUDI spoke with were also very pleased with the new spaces – as are the local police. Says Chief Inspector John Frayne, Area Commander, Ashford: ‘Since its completion, the shared space project has been very successful. There has been only one minor road traffic collision between a car and a lamp-post.Measures are being implemented to prevent selfish and dangerous parking, but, on the whole, both pedestrians and drivers are using the space responsibly.’ We have to constantly assess, suggest shared space advocates, whether the spectacular reductions in speed that shared space brings outweigh the loss of certainty that goes with the loss of formal pedestrian crossings. ‘I feel confident that we can build onAshford to overcome some of the concerns voiced by visually impaired people,’ says Whitelaw. ‘There may be new design details or technologies, or there may be different patterns of behaviour for all parties that take longer than a couple years to change. I think we’re at the early stages of a long learning curve, and we’ve very much taken up that challenge by organising an ongoing series of workshops and study groups. Our aim is to explore design techniques that would help everybody to enjoy shared space, without losing the overall philosophy.’ Recession or no recession, cutbacks or not, we will continue to spend a great deal of money on public space and streets.A clear consensus about what qualities and what characteristics we are aiming for can help inform that process and make sure that the investment, wherever it is, whenever it comes, and from whatever source can be channelled in a consistent way.
Accessibility: A constant flow of pedestrians and cyclists cross Elwick Square. A huge additional benefit for Ashford residents is the new social space: locals and visitors ‘hang out’ in and use the square in ways that would have been unthinkable in the days of the former ring road. New development planned for the south side of Elwick Square and Elwick Road will see tall buildings begin to enclose the large open space, matching the space’s tall, iconic lamp columns
ENGAGING COMMUNITIES & STAKEHOLDERS
44 48 52
REAL PLACEMAKING? YES,WE CAN
PRESENTING THE CITY TESTING THE FUTURE
NOT A WASTE OF SPACE
REAL PLACEMAKING? YES,WE CAN
Will the new localism agenda deliver for communities? Yes, says Julian Hart, but it may take time to achieve the structural and cultural changes required for local communities to influence the destiny of, and take real pride in, the places they live
Ever since publication of Lord Roger’s UrbanTask Force report, now over a decade ago, there has been a great deal of rhetoric about placemaking. Significant elements of our planning policy were subsequently revised to promote better quality places. Yet to many, and particular those working at the implementation end of placemaking, this has proven to be simply more rhetoric. Real and good examples in the UK of both the creation of high quality, sustainable places and/or reinvigoration and transformation of existing urban settings into pleasant, attractive and sustainable places to live have remained the exception, not the rule. The centralised system has failed spectacularly to deliver housing numbers. It has also failed to provide housing quality and real placemaking. Can or will the new agenda of localism deliver instead? It should: but there may well be highlights and pitfalls along the way. Whilst there has been much public debate over whether the new localism will deliver on housing numbers, discussion on its relationship with placemaking has been more muted. In terms of delivering better placemaking, in theory localism and higher quality should be complementary. It is well understood that local control and accountability should naturally give rise to better informed policies, strategies and decisions, a longer term outlook, a more holistic approach and greater attention to detail.All of this should achieve higher quality buildings and
urban environments, designed to respond to local social, environmental and economic needs and aspirations, both now and into the future. It is certainly more likely to deliver on placemaking goals than a society whose culture is dominated by a top-down drive to hit numbers to meet year-end targets, with scant concern of the consequences for next year. That’s the theory. But what about the practice? As recently noted by Tim Williams, Navigant Consulting’s Re-generation and Housing Advisory team, the single biggest barrier to achieving the aspirations of the new agenda is local control and accountability for finance. Localism will only work if the Treasury can be persuaded to loosen its grip on the national finances and allow local areas to invest in their destinies. A quick comparison with our Scandinavian counterparts demonstrates the importance of financial localism. Over in Sweden a city authority receives all tax directly from its inhabitant population and then only passes on the higher taxband increment to the national state.A person paying 40 per cent tax would see the 30 per cent increment (or 75 per cent of tax paid) going directly to the local government, with only the top 10 per cent increment (25 per cent of that paid) going to the central government. Anyone paying 30 per cent of less would see all their tax going locally. In this respect, the local government is in control of its destiny, and can afford to make serious decisions about its future. Any successful investment
04 ENGAGING COMMUNITIES & STAKEHOLDERS
in a local area, to increase economic activity or increase population or both, generates a direct return to the local state, which can be re-invested locally or used to generate a higher ongoing local revenue to pay for local services, cleaning the streets and investing in public amenities. Local control and accountability gives local people, from politicians and business leaders down, the capacity and incentive to value and take pride in the area where they live. When this works well, the result is the pristine and beautifully kept streets and landscapes of towns and cities in Switzerland. As a result of the structure of the tax system, Swedish politicians, for example, behave and think like businessmen – and their business is their town or city. The result is that they have the capacity and mindset to invest properly in the local infrastructure to achieve long-term benefits. It is for this simple reason why, for example, waste systems like the automated Envac vacuum system and district heating systems have been so readily installed across Scandinavian and European cities, in both existing areas and in new developments. Such systems may cost more than alternatives to install, but once running can and should (if designed correctly) significantly reduce long-term running costs for the town. This results in the area becoming inherently more sustainable in both economic and environmental terms: less local revenue is spent on waste management and energy, so more can be spent on health, education and street cleaning. In the UK we have systematically failed to invest in our infrastructure in such ways. The key reason for this is that local areas are unable to consider the long term. Due to centralised control of resources, they are forced to operate on a shorter time horizon, which precludes serious investment in local areas. As a generalisation, in such a context placemaking can at best be superficial and systemically fails to deliver genuinely sustainable solutions. The additional result is that UK politicians are frequently left to tinker with marginal issues relating to their local area. Rather than having real control over the destinies of their town, our local politicians are generally forced into small-minded debates over issues of detail about ‘table-setting’: the deck chairs on the Titanic conundrum. Forward-thinking councils such as the London Borough of
Barking Riverside was a joint venture between the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Bellway
Barnet, which has for some years been championing the concept of the Barnet Bond, are hoping the new political environment might enable a loosening of the Treasury’s grip on local government finance.True localism will ultimately depend on their success. But can we trust our local politicians to take on more influence and accountability for local decision-making and control real budgets for their local area? During the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher waged war for several years with big city institutions: the city governments of Liverpool and Manchester and the Greater London Council (GLC). In the end, her solution for winning the ideological battle was to centralise power. In the case of the GLC, this involved abolishing it entirely.The Treasury gradually assumed more and more control over the state finances, ending with the extreme centralisation polices of ex-Prime Minister Brown. The new localism agenda is simply a question of the pendulum swinging back: the question is, how far should it go?
The approach proposed by the Conservatives is to make local government much more transparent and accountable to the communities it represents. But for this we need better mechanisms to ensure that local politicians are fully accountable to their local electorate: not every four years, but continually. This is where new technologies, data sources and knowledge-sharing initiatives come to the fore: to create the feedback loops essential for democracy to operate at full force. In the context of the physical landscape of our towns and cities: concepts of open source planning and communityled development (local housing trusts) are increasingly entering placemakers’ thinking. Big Society proposals remain hazy in places, especially with regard to where decision-making and control should really lie. The Open Source Planning consultation document clearly muddled the roles of local planning authorities and local communities.The ‘neigh-sayers’ have subsequently capitalised
Playgrounds at Hannover Kronsberg give the new urban extension a sense of identity
on this to suggest that localism is simply another word for nimbyism. There is an expectation from many that the new localism will cause the planning system to close down altogether and that the dribble of new housing, arising from a combination of the centralised system and the credit crunch, will dry up altogether. A more considered argument regarding delivery of housing numbers is that localism will allow local areas to diverge.Where the centralised system sought to force every local area to participate in housing delivery, regardless of how much those in that area wished to, localism will allow those that believe in growth to grow and those that donâ€™t to maintain their status quo. At least in the short-term the likely outcome of this is that urban areas, which have become most accustomed to building new housing, will continue to do so: possibly even increasing the rate of delivery. In contrast, other areas, which so desperately sought to not to grow under the old regime, will take the opportunity to prevent anything new from being built. It can be quite expected that housing numbers in the new localist context will therefore be focused on built up areas, or those that in recent years have been growing fastest.
Longer-term, and assuming the pendulum is swinging towards improved mechanisms for local control, when and if local areas do take control of their own destiny, they will discover that there is a delicate balance to be achieved on an on-going basis between growth (new housing and increased economic activity) and place health (investing in the quality and infrastructure of an area). The need to seek some type of balance is something that our leading housing associations have begun to realise through trial-and-error over the past 20 years. What these more successful associations have found is that it is detrimental to grow too fast and equally detrimental to stop growing at all. What works best is a strategy of slow, planned growth where the proceeds of that growth can be astutely ploughed back into improving the existing stock. A very visible example of this balanced strategy at a local level is the activity of estate regeneration. Many larger estates inherited from the 1960s and 1970s are very costly to maintain and have undergone a spiral of decay. There is no money to renovate; they represent a draining cost on the housing associations and wider society.The solution has been to masterplan intensification of the estate and use the
proceeds of new development to replace or properly renew the existing stock to a design and level of quality, that is more cost effective to manage.This only works, however, when the proceeds of growth can be properly re-invested locally to turn a vicious cycle of decay into a virtuous cycle of improvement. As housing associations have been compelled to iterate towards successful strategies, with several falling by the wayside en route, we cannot allow local authorities to fail. For the localism agenda to work, it will be essential to bring into effect an effective process of common and shared that enables local authorities to gain from each otherâ€™s best practice and encourage everyone else to benefit from this national exploration into local control. Several developers, for example Countryside, have significantly changed their business models towards being development contractors, acting as expert delivery agents for housing associations and local authorities. Will more housebuilders be forced down this route too, and if so, where will safeguards of design quality be found? In the meantime, the intellectual challenge faced by the central policy makers is how to define communities under the new regime. In many urban contexts, the community of geography quickly becomes blurred. In cities, communities are more focused around interests (members of a church, members of a gym or drama school, work colleagues). So, when a new development is proposed in a city setting, which has an impact on local facilities, who should be considered to be the relevant community? Perhaps the trick will be not to attempt to define this too closely in legislation, but through some other, more flexible means. Under the new localism agenda, there is a real opportunity to convert placemaking rhetoric into real delivery and improvement. But we should not be too impatient. It will take time to achieve the structural and cultural changes required to put us all on a path together where local communities can influence the destiny of, and take real pride in, the places they live. â– Julian Hart is Design and Standards Manager, Homes and Communities Agency, London Region www.homesandcommunities.co.uk
04 ENGAGING COMMUNITIES & STAKEHOLDERS
The centralised system has failed spectacularly to deliver housing numbers. It has also failed to provide design quality and real placemaking. Can, or will, the new agenda of localism deliver instead? This urban extension in Amersfoort, Holland, shows what can be achieved
Courtesy of CityEngine
PRESENTING THE CITY
The city of the future will not only look different, but will be represented in new ways. From depicting the dynamics of current urban activity to interpreting the urban form and its uses, 3D imaging technologies are opening up a new era of accessible analysis and presentation. By Tom Evans and Peter Stonham
Three-dimensional image capture, manipulation and presentation offer exciting new ways of documenting, communicating and exploring the built environment. A crossover between the worlds of film and entertainment, industrial design and engineering, along with the recording and animation of places, 3D professionals are creating a continuous stream of innovations and applications. From flythrough displays, laser mapping and interactive planning support to 360-degree building projection, the toolkit of the architect, urban designer and placemaker has been enhanced dramatically over recent years. This exciting world is rapidly changing. Those interested in 3D imagery come together at the Imagina exhibition and conference in Monaco each February. As one of the largest European visualisation and 3D simulation events, Imagina acts as an annual meeting place for the 3D industry and, in recent years, has been focusing on 3D applications for the worlds of architecture, urbanism, landscape and territory. It was evident,
04 ENGAGING COMMUNITIES & STAKEHOLDERS Courtesy of CityEngine
from visiting Imagina in 2010, that many more players from the engineering and entertainment sectors are eying the urban world with skills fine-tuned in their respective industries, and designers are eagerly taking advantage of the technologies to enhance their existing planning and public realm activities. World leaders in 3D and Product Lifecycle Management, Dassault Systemes is one such company. It is using expertise gained in the transportation and aerospace industries to provide software solutions for the worlds of architecture and urban design.The company has become increasingly involved in Digital Cities, and has developed new strategies for addressing the needs of city decision makers and sustainability managers. Meanwhile, a growing number of smaller companies are offering virtual reality expertise for urban planning by adapting high-end video game technology. One such company, ENODO, work creatively with 3D graphics and artificial intelligence to simulate or modify an environment and display all the possibilities generated by a new development. The technology provides decision-making tools that assist throughout the evolution of a project, and allows users to see the impacts of modifications in real-time with a high level of detail and realism. The sophistication of online 3D mapping services has also been moving forward in recent years, with a number of companies now offering products that allow users to explore cities and manipulate images for planning and design purposes. Google has introduced a feature called Earth View, which enables users to access the same high-resolution imagery, terrain and 3D buildings available in the desktop version of Google Earth through a web browser using Google Maps. Peter Birch, Google Product Manager, says:‘Earth View offers a true three-dimensional perspective, which lets you experience mountains in full detail, 3D buildings, and first-person dives beneath the ocean.’ Reporting on Google’s development for Wired magazine, Stephen Shankland of CNET News commented: ‘Eventually Google will have constructed an immersive 3D reproduction of the entire world for exploration. How complete and up-to-date this virtual world will be remains to be seen, but the company is even photographing interiors.’ Infoterra, a leading provider of geographic information products and services, has developed a 3D city mapping online service designed specifically for architects, planners, local authorities and surveyors. The service, called Skape, enables
users to view and download highly realistic 3D environments for visual concepts and interaction, together with building information, from unlimited vantage points. It can instantly create and export 3D model fly-throughs, 3D pdfs, 3D prints and screenshots and allows users to view, manipulate and export pre-built 3D city models, 2D mapping and terrain anywhere in Great Britain. Jamie Ritchie, responsible for the
launch of Skape, says: ‘In today’s environment, architects and planners are dependent on modelling and 3D modelling.Their clients are demanding high quality, 3D visuals to bring concepts to life and to help them with their tendering and commissioning decisions.’ High quality 3D visualisations are also the speciality of software supplier C3 Technologies AB. Its flagship product,
Realistic 3D City Models, enables rapid production of models that cover very large city areas, and include the same high detail in the suburbs as they do in the city centre. C3Technologies AB is a venture-backed spinout from SAAB AB, a leading company in the Swedish Defence industry, and the image processing technology now being used for their cityscapes is based upon technology deployed in missiles and fighter aircrafts. This migration from defence to city mapping is symptomatic of the way that technology is entering the world of placemaking from all sorts of unlikely beginnings. 3D MAPPING APPLICATIONS One of the companies currently using C3 Technologies software is Yell, the people behind Yellow Pages. They have introduced new 3D maps of Birmingham, Leeds, London and Manchester and their service allows the 3D view to be dragged, titled and merged with more standard street level panoramas. The photo-realistic 3D maps were created from actual film footage shot from light aeroplanes, which is then merged with other film taken from ground level. The service can be used for free on Yell’s website. Matthew Bottomley, who heads up innovations at Yell.com says: ‘We all know that ordinary maps tell only part of the story.You can be right around the corner from a building and not realise it’s just over the nearest rooftop. Now you can actually look down and around from every angle from that very rooftop.’ At the end of 2009,The Ordnance Survey unveiled a 3D map of Bournemouth, which they claimed was the ‘most detailed ever’, as part of a pilot scheme for a new generation of maps. The national agency used state-of-the-art laser technology and aerial imagery. In a three year project, more than 700 million laser beams were sent out from Ordnance Survey vans and aircraft patrolling the town. These bounced back off Bournemouth’s hills, buildings and streets, providing precise geographical data about the terrain. Ordnance Survey claims that the results are substantially more accurate than the 3D maps available through online applications such as Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth, and will revolutionise the way it charts the British Isles.‘Three-dimensional maps in themselves aren’t new, but what we’ve achieved in Bournemouth is a level of accuracy and detail that’s never been attained before,’ said Glen Hart, Head of Research at Ordnance Survey. However, the
3D mapping service will not be rolled to the rest of Britain for at least five years, while Ordnance Survey perfects the new method, which will deliver new applications for both public and professional use. Along with 3D imagery, the potential of 3D audio simulation is now being realised, and used to assess living or working environments. Interactive soundscapes have been created by companies such as Arup and Genesis Acoustics, and can be experienced through the use of real-time sound audio systems integrated with simulators and virtual reality platforms. The soundscapes create a sensation of immersion and can help in
the study of noise tolerance levels and in communicating a vision for a building or development. Another evolving area of interest is the presentation of places over time, so as to highlight the change process.The Medieval Dublin 3D Model, commissioned by Dublin City Council, was made available as a DVD and explores a 3D model of the walled city, between 800 and 1540 AD, visiting a Viking house and a medieval street. The city of Pompeii has been brought back to life using the CityEngine software, developed by the Swiss firm Procedural. A 3D model of the ancient site, using building footprint data and architectural information from archaeologists,
04 ENGAGING COMMUNITIES & STAKEHOLDERS
As the Big Society agenda gathers pace, the potential of 3D technology for community consultation, education, training and conservation projects is also being explored re-created its original appearance with crowds of virtual Romans walking its streets. The model illustrates the possibilities of 3D technologies – the CityEngine software itself has numerous applications and functions, including the editing of dynamic city layouts and modelling of 3D streets and buildings. 3D HANDS-ON SCENARIOS As the Big Society agenda gathers pace, the potential of 3D technology for community consultation, education, training and conservation projects is also being explored. Site-specific 3D flythoughs are already being used by local authorities for public consultations, while interactive 3D maps using moveable objects have been developed to give a more ‘hands-on’ experience of placemaking scenarios. I-create, an architectural visualisation and 3D architectural rendering company based in the UK, has developed 3D interactive masterplans which use touchscreens as a communication tool for use in consultations and presentations. The company also offer interactive 3D walkthroughs and virtual worlds that combine advanced computer gaming expertise with 3D architectural visualisation to present realistic models of new developments. This immersive 3D experience presents great possibilities for use in the planning and design process and could become a useful tool to assess the impact of new designs and developments on urban areas. Change happens fast and 3D technologies are likely to become ever more visible in the placemaker’s toolkit. The potential for testing, visualising and communicating plans and designs could lead to more efficient urban developments but, as with all technologies, it should assist and not overly influence decisions. Imagina 2011, the European 3D simulation and visualization event, will take place in Monaco from 1-3 February2011 www.imagina.mc
The CityEngine software, developed by the Swiss firm Procedural, has numerous applications and functions, including the editing of dynamic city layouts and the fast and responsive modelling of 3D streets and buildings
TESTING THE FUTURE
UrbanISM is a ‘scenario testing’ tool that enables stakeholders and the public to rapidly explore and assess the potential of masterplans and options for growth, delivering an empirical evidence base to support planning and development decisions
The model’s strength is in testing a range of scenarios, each of which may attain desired development targets across different configurations. Preferred characteristics such as the percentage of homes within 10 minutes’ walk of green space are factored in.The game ‘score’ becomes higher as the configuration is refined to deliver more desirable outputs
UrbanISM (Integrated Spatial Model) developed through an interactive ‘planning’ board game, first played in Ashford, Kent, several years ago as a means of exploring growth options across the town.The game was then played in many more locations at a range of scales, and has now been refined into a powerful computer-based tool that ‘tests’ the performance of towns and cities; rapidly assessing development potential and proposals for existing and planned streets, green spaces, blocks and pedestrian and vehicle movement. It aids social infrastructure planning by measuring the need, against national benchmarks, for new schools, health centres, energy centres and emergency services. By integrating these key elements, urbanISM users are able to robustly ‘test’ masterplans and growth scenarios, creating and refining layouts time- and cost-effectively. ‘When we originally played the planning game, it was simply a grid-based board, or map, with a series of tiles, each relating to different types of development, that could be “played” on each grid square,’ says Jonathan Tricker,Associate Director at Urban Initiatives, and a key developer of the model. UrbanISM is a sophisticated extension of the game: an algorithm-driven spreadsheet interface mirrors, captures and records screenbased game activity – relating to constraints, demographics, place asset – as the game is played. Each ‘game’s’ development ‘rules’ and ‘values’ are rooted in best practice policy and guidelines, and linked to local design frameworks and plans. The model uses standard GIS data, which many organisations already own. The model is robustly
tested and fully transparent: game parameters are calibrated to an existing place based on census data, allowing third party scrutiny as needed. When a game scenario is ‘played’, the outputs arising can be understood very quickly. ‘If we then change the scenario, we can see how those outputs change in real time,’ says Andy Sheldon, a co-developer of the system. Scale is important: at the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, London, the game explored development at a fine grain because the team were required to double the density of a large social housing estate in order to bridge funding gaps. In Ashford and Taunton, however, the games were played to explore key decisions about growth.‘We build up to a critical mass. We see at what level development becomes viable. Once contextual rules are defined, the game begins to deliver potential outcomes very quickly,’ says Tricker. CARBON FOOTPRINTING The urbanISM team has been using the model to explore carbon footprinting. Along with partners such as Transport Research Laboratory, work around transport carbon emissions and trip rates has led to an understanding of travel patterns, car trips and transport carbon emissions. Using the model adds transparency to the carbon impact of development decisions, says Tricker.‘This became clear when we played with councillors and stakeholders.When they placed tiles for potential employment centres in certain out of town sites, the transport carbon levels increased
DESIGN FINGERPRINTING The team has used the model to explore specific scenarios. For one client, for example, it was able to demonstrate that typical low density development was not efficient: such configurations scored very poorly on proximity to local centres and transport carbon. An ‘urban village’ model of the type favoured by the Prince’s Foundation, with defined green space around the edge to establish character, scored as an improvement over the typical developer model – but still
04 ENGAGING COMMUNITIES & STAKEHOLDERS
exponentially.The councillors were seeing this for the first time.They began to realise why certain places were not good candidates for development.’ To extend the model’s communication abilities, urbanISM can be combined with map-based board games to be played with the public, helping a wide range of participants to understand the results of different planning decisions. In itself, the game/model is a simple interface between a stakeholder and ways of approaching masterplanning. ‘It helps to bring our thinking together and then stakeholders understand our specialist advice in a better way – we’re not just a bunch of a consultants telling them what to do,’ says Tricker. The model’s strength is to test many scenarios, each of which may attain desired development targets, across in a range of different configurations. Preferred characteristics such as the percentage of homes within 10 minutes’ walk of green space, or within 20 minutes’ walking or cycling distance of employment opportunities, are factored in.The game ‘score’ becomes higher as the configuration is refined to deliver more desirable outputs. Custom-collated GIS, street, cycling route and road network data underlies and informs the generation of actual walking, driving and cycling times. The model also assesses the requirement for, and viability of, infrastructure and amenities: development for housing and employment would normally use the national grids for energy, for example, but once a critical mass is reached, as indicated b y the model, the creation of new energy centres becomes an option. These can deliver 20-25 per cent savings on energy consumption across a development. Once the energy centre option is ‘triggered’, the model records a reduction in energy consumption and related carbon savings.
Complexity mode: measures land use diversity and catchments
Compactness mode: measures development compactness
Connectedness mode: measures grid permeability and accessibility
wasn’t as efficient as it needs to be, notes Tricker. Another interesting possible use for the model in future is design ‘fingerprinting’. Using a custom-designed scoring set, the model can affect a direct comparison between different types of development on sites across the UK and Europe. The model’s interactive process can generate a framework for an objective analysis of place, and an objective way of looking at different spatial arrangements. Another possibility is generative design: by repeating, weighting and manipulating game scores for specific scenarios, the model can begin to deliver optimised arrangements for that context. Sheldon sees this aspect of the model as a cost-effective and rapid means of reaching optimum arrangements. EVIDENCE-BASED DEBATE UrbanISM remains an integrated,‘broad brush’ tool, with a balance to be struck between scope and depth of modelling. It facilitates discussion and ‘evidence-based’ debate for development trade-offs. A web-based version of the game, able to engage a wider range of people for broader consultation is also a future possibility. ‘Instead of playing the game with a live audience, people could play independently and submit their own solutions online during a consultation process,’ says Tricker. The model currently has five key modes (land use mix and density, accessibility, social infrastructure, constraints and deliverability) that work together to assess place performance. ‘The way that we’ve approached the creation of urbanISM is that we are urban designers and transport engineers and planners,’ says Tricker. ‘The ways in which these core relationships integrate has been determined through our range of experiences. We wanted to create a model that educated people about the planning process.’ The model will grow as we grow, he adds.‘New people get involved and bring new things with them: an economist could add new modules, for example. It is people and skills that make it what it is.’ ■ Jonathan Tricker and Andrew Sheldon spoke with Juliana O’Rourke UrbanISM is available through consultancy from Urban Initiatives www.urbaninitiatives.co.uk
UrbanISM uses five key modes to assess place performance.The potential of the system lies in its ability to bring these modes together through a series of core relationships, developed through Urban Initiatives’ masterplanning and place-making experience:
(above and below) A key model output is compactness, says Urban Initiatives’ Jonathan Tricker. ‘Compactness is more than simply density. It’s about the number of people and things happening within a neighbourhood. We measure, for example, 800m around each “tile” and assess the population within that zone. We correlate compactness and accessibility. With high levels of compactness, we can normally achieve high levels of public transport; be it bus, rapid transit or tram or rail.’ The model above counts the number of units within 800m of a cell for new developments; below the model counts the number of units within 800m of a cell for both new developments and existing developments
Constraints mode Within the constraints mode, the process collates base data about a place including planning, physical and environmental constraints
Accessibility mode Within the accessibility mode, UrbanISM is able to examine urban structure and movement patterns. Using a series of standard transport planning techniques, the system is able to asses public transport accessibility, walking isochrone catchments and road danger/street environment indices. Each grid square within the study area is given an index score
Land use mix & density mode This mode captures the existing spatial arrangement of land use mix, along with residential and employment populations, in order to assess urban densities Social infrastructure mode (SIM) SIM provides a means to assess demographic change and the need for schools, libraries and healthcare resulting from planned growth. It reconciles this with existing provision, ensuring that development is fully inclusive and sustainable.The spatial dimension enables future-proofed planning Deliverability mode Within the deliverability mode, the process assesses existing land value and performs development viability calculations on proposed development
(left) The original planning game was simply a grid-based board, or map, with a series of tiles, each relating to different types of development, that could be ‘played’ on each grid square. The UrbanISM model is a sophisticated extension of the game: an algorithm-driven spreadsheet interface mirrors, captures and records screen-based game activity – relating to constraints, demographics, carbon impacts and place assets – as the game is played
NOT A WASTE OF SPACE…
Meanwhile is a way of thinking; a way of seeing the natural pauses in the property process as opportunities. It’s about animating and activating places and spaces while something else happens. By Emily Berwyn Meanwhile use, although similar to temporary uses and involving temporary occupation of a space, takes the concept further to recognise vacancies as wasted space that could be put to use as an activity, or resource for the community, that can contribute to a better quality of life and better places. Meanwhile encompasses the use of a space while something else is waiting to happen, for example awaiting planning permission, a new tenant or a change in the economy – meanwhile use recognises that the search for a commercial use is ongoing. The Meanwhile Use: Business Case and Learning Points report by SQW Consulting (2010), commissioned by the Meanwhile Project and available online, defines meanwhile use as the ‘temporary use of vacant buildings or land for a socially beneficial purpose until such a time that they can be brought back into commercial use’. Via meanwhile use, empty sites, shops and buildings that would otherwise be left unused can become reanimated, providing outlets for community enterprise and activity, whilst complementing the efforts of surviving businesses and becoming a key part of place-making strategy. The core benefits of meanwhile uses are their impermanence and the freedom to experiment. Temporary uses offer opportunities for experimentation: a chance to take risks and test ideas. Meanwhile became part of the Revitalising Town Centres policy inApril 2009,launched to promote temporary community uses of vacant shops (and later sites and housing) in response to the challenges brought by the recession.The Meanwhile Project is an initiative led by the Development Trusts Association and Meanwhile Space CIC since 2009, initially funded by a grant from Communities & Local Government (CLG). It has combined
policy intervention,ground-level projects and development tools to enable the process to activate spaces: including development of customisable leases, handbooks, funding and guidance. Supporting social enterprises,community groups or enterprising individuals to access and create activity in empty spaces, the project seeks to highlight how empty space can be turned into a cost-effective and accessible resource. It’s a stretch to say empty spaces up and down the land are bursting with Meanwhile activity. But it is fair to say that meanwhile use is much, much more commonplace than it was eighteen months ago. Check out the report No Time to Waste, (www.meanwhile.org.uk) to see the evidence. Although it’s unclear whether Meanwhile has the ongoing support of the coalition government, but with the meanwhile community now numbering more than 700 members, interest is continuing to grow. The concept of the Big Society, and the coalition government’s plans to enable the third sector to enjoy more control over their areas and the public services within them, may provide a valuable testing ground that meanwhile can be part of. Meanwhile activity is a great way to test the feasibility of community activity and delivery potential, and can support innovation in the temporary use of vacant assets. For those drawn to Meanwhile activity, resourcefulness and creativity are second nature, so ‘meanwhilers’ are unlikely to be daunted by the challenges of spending cuts. It’s a growing sector too, as social enterprises and other organisations are beginning seek out and use vacant space as community resources. In recent years, temporary activity has become increasingly acceptable. A ‘resource base’ is being to grow, with reports,
04 ENGAGING COMMUNITIES & STAKEHOLDERS
Via meanwhile use, empty land, sites, shops and buildings that would otherwise be left empty can become reanimated, providing outlets for community enterprise and activity, whilst complementing the efforts of surviving businesses and becoming a key part of place-making strategy
information and analysis regarding temporary uses – duration, location and benefits. It is estimated that 250 temporary use projects are currently underway in England, in every region of the country, and the majority of them are occurring in urban spaces in deprived areas.These project spaces tend to be used by social enterprises, development trusts, local community or voluntary groups for periods lasting from a few weeks up to five years, with many of the projects relocating to other temporary or permanent spaces once the current unit becomes unavailable. Nearly 75 per cent are in vacant retail units, but other types of empty spaces are increasingly finding new leases of life, including offices, vacant lots, empty homes, pubs, car showrooms, garage forecourts and stalled building sites. A wide range of uses take place within these meanwhile spaces, with the creative industries leading the way (art and culture related projects total 56 per cent of meanwhile uses).At the most basic level, these uses seek to reduce the blight of vacancy, but most achieve much more, creating new enterprises, skills, capacity and destinations. Temporary spaces offer a stepping-stone for start-up businesses and entrepreneurs, enabling them to take risks with ideas and potentially enter the commercial market with an established business.They also offer the opportunity to activate sites while they lay dormant to create community activity and open space instead of the typical hoarded blight. Once such example is a delayed shopping centre development site in the centre of Bradford (see panel). We were delighted when pressure by local people, in the form of an Art Attack led by Spartacus, brought retail developer Westfield, Bradford council and arts organisation Fabric together to create an urban garden – with support from Meanwhile. The Lewes Road Community Garden, near Brighton, came into being when a group of local people became so fed up with the blight of abandoned fridges and debris they instigated a community clear-up, planning to use the space as a growing area. The garden went from strength to strength as a venue for parties, film viewings and a place for the community to interact – so much so there are were many sad faces when site owner reclaimed the site for development. This highlights one key issue: does temporary use that integrates with the community merely highlight the void it
Across England, meanwhile projects are turning neglected spaces or stalled development sites into animated community spaces, in Lewes, (top), and in Bradford
replaces, and leave a hole in the locality’s character when it is removed?What local people achieved on Lewes Road was truly fantastic, and although the space is no longer available, the project will continue through the friendships that have been formed. Now that the group have created a precedent for transforming a space, with careful planning the hard work can be transplanted to new sites as they become available. We urge the coalition government to continue to support the Meanwhile Project.The model leases for land and stalled sites produced by the Meanwhile Project enable the creation of food growing, gardens and play spaces, boosting the confidence of all concerned. Meanwhile activity is relevant to urban design practice in that it focuses on the ingredients that contribute to a sense of place, form and functionality. It is important to consider the wider responsibility of urban design as a means of understanding and improving the built environment so that we may seek to create places that serve the people that use them. It is the nature of urban environments to change and evolve over time, and we should support this process rather than restrict it. The high street has suffered as a result of the recession, but neither have retail-dominant town centres always been successful. Urban design may help to make difficult decisions of where to focus or shrink commercial areas going forward, perhaps encouraging a re-categorisation of the planning system to allow for more flexible grouping of what happens at ground level. This could allow a design for a certain looseness of uses with primary commercial activity focused in particular areas and other community facing uses such as doctors, dentists, architecture practices, workshop spaces, galleries, libraries, pubs, cafes gravitating towards secondary commercial areas where a buzz of innovation is intended. In recent years investment in the built environment has been plentiful and it is likely that as the UK recovers from the credit crunch and recession and moves into an era of debt reduction, it will be some time before regular six figure masterplans and multi-million pound regeneration schemes are considered the norm.Where scarce resources and attentions are focused will be doubly important therefore and the prospects for direct action are palpable. Meanwhile as a concept has the potential to take hold of the Big Society notion and guide it to support the
■ Emily Berwyn is Director of Meanwhile Space CIC www.meanwhile.org.uk | www.meanwhilespace.ning.com www.meanwhilespace.com
GETTING THE MOST FROM MEANWHILE:A CHECKLIST FOR URBAN DESIGNERS
■ ‘Scenario-testing’: long term visions for an area: how place usage, desire lines, nodes and demand for activity could be explored and adapted through live testing ■ Make the most of opportunities for bringing services and uses out in to the open, as test beds or marketing opportunities that would expand their accessibility and people’s awareness of them ■ A chance to explore alternative processes for designing our towns and cities. Meanwhile could assist with managing big ideas that can be implemented incrementally and innovatively
Artists at Fabric created an impression of how the site might look, says Seymour, and all parties were quickly sold on the idea. Bradford residents were tired of having a gaping hole at the heart of their city. The developing garden is a popular place to stroll and relax
FIXING A HOLE IN THE HEART OF THE CITY Bradford city centre has stagnated in recent years,partly because of a large physical hole in its heart – land in limbo,for the past four years, awaiting the development of Westfield’s Broadway retail centre. With the site sitting idle, and no signs of potential progress, Gideon Seymour of Fabric, the arts development organisation for Bradford,approachedWestfield to begin dialogue about temporary uses. In October 2009, the hoardings around the site were subjected to an ‘art attack’ proclaiming the site to be a ‘wastefield’. By the following week, the conversation had begun.‘People in Bradford were fed up with walking round a huge hole in their city centre, and wanted the land to be used for something they could engage with – not car parking or advertising hoardings,’ says Seymour. Once the Fabric-driven plan for an urban garden gained momentum,bothWestfield’s directors and the council,along with Yorkshire Forward, proved to be enthusiastic about the project, each contributing £100,000 and,and helping to ready the site for its transformation into the Bradford Urban Garden (BUG). ‘Westfield deserve credit for getting involved in this,’ says Seymour,‘especially as they have no obligation to help the town. They were generally very helpful and positive. It was a great example of everyone working together and adopting a “can-do” attitude.’ Meanwhile also facilitated the project, supporting it to the tune of £25,000, and using lessons learned from the experience to adapt the buildings-oriented Meanwhile lease for use with land-based projects. The council is a key player in the scheme, having leased the site fromWestfield for five years,and in turn leased it on to Fabric, which has responsibility to‘animate’ BUG,on a year-by-year basis. ‘I think that there would be disappointment in the city if no progress is made on the retail centre within the next two years,’ says Seymour.‘Until then,we hope to maintain the garden and its activities until summer 2012.We have an interesting opportunity to use this hiatus to have a conversation locally about how local people would like that site to look.There is a consensus that a standard shopping centre-type “box” is not the right answer for that site.We can engage people in the exploration of ideas that are a bit more imaginative and appropriate,possibly incorporating elements of BUG.’ ■ www.creativebradford.co.uk
04 ENGAGING COMMUNITIES & STAKEHOLDERS
processes and potential for local action by enabling groups to take on major assets to test out feasibility for longer term asset transfer. Research into the practicalities of initiating temporary uses, and getting over barriers that restrict activity, could enable the findings from meanwhile activity to shed light on the bureaucracies that inhibit spontaneous and flexible activity, and why. In particular, there is an opportunity to explore potential for modifying the planning system to allow for alternative categorisation of policies, and to explore whether Local Development Orders are suitably placed to facilitate ‘Meanwhile Zones’.
PUBLIC SPACES, PUBLIC PLACES
58 60 62
OPEN SOURCE PLACEMAKING
FROM TOWN TO ACTIVE CITY
A WORLD CLASS WATERFRONT
OPEN SOURCE PLACEMAKING
The built environment sector is obsessed with designing frameworks for economic development, rather than creating adaptive, flexible stages for entrepreneurial networks and fertile communities to grow. David Barrie outlines his ideas for ‘open source’ placemaking to Juliana O’Rourke There is a growing appetite in industrialised countries for socially-focused enterprises. Put this together with a dramatic rise in the use of digital online technology for social networking, says David Barrie of David Barrie & Associates, a production company that designs, directs and consults on initiatives that enable capital growth, social innovation and transformational change in cities and communities, and you begin to see new possibilities.‘Our focus should be towards embracing ‘citizen demand’; creating places that unfold over time through programmes of low-cost capital investment.’ Barrie describes many current masterplanning approaches as very structured; very defined. He speaks of ‘analysis paralysis’. We should be looking at place-shaping in a more ad hoc and pragmatic way, he suggests.‘We invest lots of money into public places, yet often the approaches that work the best are those that are considered to be operating at the margins,’ he says. Guys like Eric Reynolds who helped to set up Camden market, he adds, have been around for years, doing something slightly different and unusual. These people are achieving great things that really make a difference to places like Camden, yet they are sitting in the wings. ‘They’ve achieved something that is ‘make do’; that lends an area a definite personality, as well as generating excitement and investment, says Barrie.The focus of their approach has not been on the infrastructure, but rather on content, and not always mainstream content at that.‘This leads me to suggest that the traditional ways in which we have approached the planning of our towns and cities are credible, but not as effective as they could be.’ The political message of the coalition government is to put more power and opportunity into the hands of people, notes Barrie, in part by supporting co-operatives, charities and
social enterprises. A framework has emerged to support this movement: featuring the scaling back of regional government, the formation of a Big Society Bank, funding support for community organisation, and the promotion of open source planning.When linked with the rise of the internet as a model for communicating and doing business, and a modal shift in demand to localism in response to climate change and increasing awareness of the value of community to sustainable development, the time is ripe to explore ways in which we might change the ways in which we deliver a key public service – the built environment, he says. SOCIAL ENTERPRISE As we witness ever greater investment in social enterprise, and see people coming together online to begin ventures and do business and make money, says Barrie, we’re acting in a very chaotic,‘swarmy’, unpredictable manner.We carry data across platforms, stick with some things and not others, he says, and feels that this looser culture could influence the way we plan our cities.‘Some web platforms “stick” with the public, some don’t. It’s unpredictable.This makes me think that we should be reviewing the ways in which we zone, plan and create our cities.We should be taking a much looser approach to the making of places.We could be enabling the ad hoc occupation of places and spaces, encouraging markets to build and, out of the experience, allowing places to acquire their own personalities.’ Obviously, he adds, there are key bits of infrastructure, such as energy and water that need to be in place to service public space activity, but the whole delivery process tends to be a bit ‘fetishised’ he says.‘Servicing takes over, and I’m asking for a slight correction to that equation. Our spaces and places
ADDING VALUE WITH INTERIM USES We need to explore ways of doing more with design and development on an interim basis.We need more ways of adding value to developments so that they can offer a particular advantage.We also need to enable communities to have a degree of control over budgets. People will often make surprising choices – but ones that work, he says.‘In the current context, we are looking at the capacity of culture, principally the visual arts and the excess capital that follows it, to re-purpose redundant urban environments.’ A new approach can work, he insists, as he makes a detailed case on his popular blog, http://davidbarrie.typepad.com.‘In the UK, a country with a powerful tradition of mutualism and state provision but a weak culture of philanthropy, we have witnessed an increase in value of the charities sector, and the rise of development trusts to support regeneration.’ Citizen-driven partnerships, he suggests, offer a serious alternative to the central design and delivery of governmental services. Both public institutions and government have been impressed by the participation of people in social sector initiatives such as community land and development trusts. The rise of social enterprise prioritises human relationships and transactions of social, not just commercial value, says Barrie.‘It shifts the narrative of renewal from the provision of space to services, with sites acting as places that enable change, rather than dictating them via a masterplan.’ ■ http://davidbarrie.typepad.com
05 PUBLIC SPACES, PUBLIC PLACES
need to stimulate us, Barrie points out.‘This is not about being nice, it’s about the economic argument. Cities need to respond to us. Or we won’t bother to go out for a walk.We’ll go online instead.The rise of online social networking looks set to change the value we attach to physical place.’ We have an opportunity at this point in time for more people to get involved in placemaking in this looser, less structured way, says Barrie. Community action should be part of the toolkit.The community has a key voice and a role to play in design and development.And although we do have some very positive co-production and collaboration processes, far too often engagement is ‘about public relations designed to get planning permission’.
(above, left) Working to create a truly shareable ‘urban living room’ in the streets of New York City, Balmori Associates embraced social media to begin a truly public discussion of public space.The intention was to reclaim the city’s streets for pedestrian use in a way that was flexible, inexpensive and contextually appropriate to the site in question; (above) Conventionally, says David Barrie, tectonic (and titanic) plates of funding from central government have been manoeuvred in to position and a process of masterplanning has followed. Development frameworks, spatial, business, action, entry and exit plans have been drawn up. In next to no time, regeneration has tended to become a complex bureaucratic process, a closed system of proposal, appraisal, planning, revised planning and Cobra-style discussions and negotiations.This has been an approach that engenders caution and breeds ‘analysis paralysis’.When people go back to basics and work together, good things happen, as in Holland’s urban extensions; (left) Open source placemaking in action: a community group in Brixton, London, build a network and reclaim their estate to create a flourishing urban garden
FROM TOWN TO ACTIVE CITY
The landscape-led approach to the refurbishment of Inverness city public realm clearly identified ‘people’ and ‘place’ at the forefront of the design process.The city centre now has a growing economic confidence, a new café culture and active, pedestrianfriendly streets. By Duncan McLean Inverness is Scotland’s newest city and the centre of Highland culture.As such it is undergoing rapid transformation through development, environment and cultural initiatives. Largely in response to Inverness’ new city status in 2000, the concurrent rapid growth and development, and the perception that Inverness City Centre was an unattractive destination and suffering economically, The Highland Council commissioned Land Use Consultants (LUC) in October 2005 to develop a design and administer the contract for the comprehensive refurbishment of the city centre streets and public realm, traffic management, a public art programme and new lighting. The LUC design team and The Highland Council worked together to develop a number of key design objectives to guide the development of the streetscape project: improve the pedestrian environment; facilitate safe access and movement throughout the city centre; decreasing traffic
The design focused on the creation of a series of civic pedestrian-orientated spaces to accommodate informal and formal social events
LUC developed a proposed hierarchy of public space with clear criteria. Primary civic spaces are pedestrianised areas, representing important gateway and
landmark spaces where people can congregate, partake in cultural activities,
orientate and appreciate artworks or temporary displays.These spaces will also have potential for street markets and outdoor café culture. Artworks were
incorporated at key ‘gateways’ or transitional routes, and as focal features within new civic spaces
pedestrian-orientated spaces to accommodate informal and formal social events. The street patterns of Inverness represent the legacy of the medieval town, modified significantly by Victorian interventions in the middle to late 19th century. Typically, the older streets are less consistent in their width, building lines and the scale and age of buildings.They include a variety of building types dating from the 14th century but also many modern infill developments. The Victorian streets are conversely straight and consistent in width, building line and scale, creating different spatial and visual characteristics. The streetscape design sought to respect these characteristics by adopting formality on the Victorian streets, but allowing informality of street geometry and the use of materials in streets, lanes and closes of earlier origins.
Secondary civic spaces relate to important buildings and access routes.They have generous pedestrian areas but are subject to through traffic. Pedestrian priority is increased in these areas and road crossing is facilitated by low kerbs and paved carriageways as traffic calming devices.The widened footways accommodate
furniture components enabling these areas to function as congregation/orientation places.The design pioneers philosophies contained with the Department of
Transport Manual for Streets (2007) and the Scottish Government Designing Streets (2010) in advance of their publication
TOWARDS SHARED, PEOPLE-FRIENDLY SPACES The project sought to achieve improved pedestrian access and movement, and to facilitate safe access, by discouraging through traffic, particularly car traffic, narrowing the carriageway to facilitate road crossings at key locations on pedestrian routes, and creating shared and pedestrianised civic space areas where pedestrian priority is to be introduced. Footway areas were increased, obstacles and clutter removed, and new, clearly defined road crossing points legible to pedestrians (including the blind and partially sighted) and to motorists were created. The obvious choice of the main paving material was ‘historic’ Caithness stone, procured from within 100 miles of the site. White granite was used as the main kerb and trim material to provide contrast. Pink and brown granite cubes and setts were used in parking, loading and bus bays to provide an element of colour. The clearly defined design principles that led this project have resulted in a greatly enhanced city centre, supporting distinctiveness and added vitality, as well as encouraging environmentally sustainable travel choices. ■ Duncan McLean is a Senior Landscape Architect with Land Use Consultants http://www.landuse.co.uk/
05 PUBLIC SPACES, PUBLIC PLACES
dominance, and facilitating increased use of public transport, in particular 500 bus movements per day. The project has addressed an extensive variety of urban streets and spaces within the historic ‘Old Town’ of Inverness. The design focused on the creation of a series of civic
With the world famous Three Graces buildings, a great statement of Liverpool’s civic pride, as a backdrop, a 2.5 hectare public space facing the river Mersey has become a vibrant destination and a triumph of regeneration. It is a piece of urban landscape with a broad appeal and varied uses, incorporating sunken water basins as part of a new canal link along with open-air performance areas for cultural celebration. The project has been enthusiastically received, winning no fewer than 11 national and regional awards since completion in 2009. In 2000 Liverpool’s Strategic Regeneration Framework identified improvements to the Pier Head as a key priority. With a range of major initiatives identified, a masterplan was prepared to maximise the benefits of the proposed extension of the Leeds Liverpool Canal into the city centre.A new Mersey ferry terminal, proposals for an iconic new museum of Liverpool, and a cruise liner facility were other areas of focus. AN INTERNATIONAL GATEWAY The public realm project, valued at £9m, was led by Liverpool City Council and implemented in a combined delivery with the Pier Head section of the Liverpool canal link, delivered for British Waterways by Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Ltd. Funding came from NWDA and the Merseyside Objective One programme. Urban designer AECOM Design and Planning (formerly EDAW) was charged with creating a distinctive and vibrant space as a new heart for the waterfront.A world-class stage for the city was called for: a place to enjoy festivities, host civic events and welcome visitors .The new space needed to reinvent the site as an international gateway to the city. On a practical level, the revived public realm was intended to strike a balance between canal users and those enjoying the public space yearround, together with the capability to accommodate large crowds at special events.The canal was designed to allow two open waterway basins separated by an expansive lawn. The proposals were to respect the UNESCO World Heritage Site status and underwent rigorous scrutiny by English Heritage, the local planning authority and a local design review panel. It was important to reintegrate the city’s historic statues and memorials into the new design. The council worked closely with the Canadian High Commission over the
A WORLD CLASS WATERFRONT
In 2008, Liverpool celebrated its year as European Capital of Culture. Public waterfronts, squares and streets transformed by quality design have helped to attract £1.6 billion of visitor spend to a now thriving city with international appeal. By Rosey Paul
In an epic feat of engineering, the canal extension has been excavated in front of theThree Grace buildings.While a large portion of the new waterway runs beneath the plaza, it becomes visible at two large open basins, separated by an expansive lawn.These three elements echo the scale and presence of theThree Graces, now reflected within the public realm. The scheme has awards from CABE Space and the Landscape Institute, among several others
ENCOURAGING ACTIVITY The paving beneath which the interlinking culverts pass enables unhindered pedestrian access to the river edge, and provides ample space for civic festivities to occur.This stretch of busy waterway brings movement and interest to the waterfront and provides sheltered places to sit, watch the passing narrow boats and enjoy the views. At 650 metres in length, this is the first major urban canal extension in the UK in a generation. For navigational reasons the canal’s water level needed to be several meters below the surface of the public realm itself.This potentially divisive situation has been ingeniously overcome by conceiving the entire space as a gently folded surface, akin to a beautiful piece of origami, fluidly enabling access for all to the water’s edge. The crease lines that create these folds run the length of Pier Head, yet seamlessly change their nature as they move through the space.These are highlighted with a warm-
The new-look Pier Head is a key highlight when visitors promenade the Liverpool waterfront, and is highly successful in terms of bringing new animation to a once desolate space.The liveliness of the canal with its boat traffic, rippling water and reflections attract visitors to sit in shelter from the wind and enjoy the new spectacle.The ferry terminal creates vibrancy, with an outdoor café overlooking the river, rooftop restaurant with outdoor terrace and Beatles Story attraction.Visitor numbers are on the increase, and visitor spend has increased since the completion of the public realm regeneration project (see below for details)
Providing a contrast with the pale stone, mid-grey varied-tone granite paving forms a rich, textured pattern that takes its inspiration from the variety of stone sizes used in the surrounding historic docks. Within the scheme a gradation of five module sizes are used, with large flagstones in open expanses of paving blending to cobbles in areas requiring an intricate finish or where the surface is required to take particularly high weights such as river wall maintenance cranes.A subtlely varied colour palette of mid-grey granite not only highlights these unit changes to great effect, but also masks surface dirt. The effect is the creation a rich patina across the plaza surface, the subtle colouration being brought to life when wet.The centre-piece of the design is a new lawn surrounding the restored statue of EdwardVII which sits on the central axis of the space between the Cunard Building and new Mersey Ferry terminal. In spring, purple crocuses provide a dramatic splash of colour; in summer it is hard to see the grass for people enjoying the sunshine
THE VALUE OF QUALITY DESIGN
Recent economic impact figures tracking the success of Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture, 2008, reveal the city region’s visitor economy is on target to be £2bn a year by 2020.These days, it is hard to remember now how unattractive the centre was to visitors and shoppers before comprehensive public realm regeneration transformed the city. Official data compiled under the tourism industry’s STEAM model show visitor spend during the city’s year in the international spotlight rose from £1.4billion to £1.6billion.The figures also highlight the number of jobs supported by businesses in the visitor economy: a rise of 11 per cent from 7,697 to 8,521.
05 PUBLIC SPACES, PUBLIC PLACES
re-planting of the memorial avenue dedicated to the Battle of the Atlantic. More than 90 semi-mature trees were planted and existing plaques and interpretation carefully salvaged and reinstated. The palette of materials and construction method adopted standards from Liverpool’s Public Realm Implementation Framework. All pavements were designed to take vehicular loadings. Finally, the work at Pier Head was to be fully integrated with the adjoining mixed-use Mann Island development, also masterplanned by AECOM Design and Planning.
toned natural stone chosen to complement the facades of the Three Graces, and used for rainwater collection through much of the space. As they approach the canal basins, however, they splay out to dramatic effect creating a series of seat walls which accommodate the change in level, elegantly morph into flights of steps, then finally re-converge to continue their journey through the space. DIGITAL CRAFTSMANSHIP The seating provides inviting and sheltered places to sit close to the water’s edge, watch the barges and enjoy the views. In addition to being sculpturally attractive, this inbuilt seating is robust and much less vulnerable to vandalism than traditional benches, while embodying a high degree of refinement and craftsmanship.The team worked with Marshalls to develop the design concept and ensure buildability. In terms of implementation, computer-generated 3D models created by the design team were used to cut complex stone shapes with great accuracy and cost-effectiveness using computer numerically controlled (CNC) milling machines.This closed the loop between designer and end product in a successful piece of digital craftsmanship. Project implementation presented many challenges, with extensive archaeology and the difficulty of working alongside concurrent construction projects. Indeed, waterfront project managers and contractors groups were set up to ensure joint working and effective coordination between the projects. These brought many benefits, for example sharing fill across sites to cut down on imported materials and coordinating construction traffic to reduce disruption.Among the greatest strengths of the project is that the grand scale of the design, which sits well with the majestic Three Graces and the worldfamous setting on the River Mersey.And yet, despite this large scale, there are also moments for intimacy, tranquility and reflection, the latter being especially important given the number of memorials here. ■ Rosey Paul is Principal Public Realm project Manager at Liverpool City Council http://www.liverpool.gov.uk Follow link to City Centre Movement Strategy in A-Z for further information on public realm improvements in the city
Liverpool has transformed itself into one of the UK’s top visitor destinations, but there is no room for complacency.We must now maintain the momentum and continue to improve our offer if the city is to compete at an international level Nick Brooks-Sykes, Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA)
An exciting scheme of night-time illumination uses warm white light in decorative columns along the main thoroughfares and in innovative recessed light fittings within the canal and seat walls.These create attractive feature lighting within the basin areas, which is overlooked by the new museum and restaurant terrace of the ferry terminal and provides a wonderful backdrop at night. All equipment was chosen to be energy-efficient and to minimise light spillage.The area is a successful venue for hosting large events, for example an annual ‘On the Waterfront’ music and dance festival.The site was also used for the final event for Liverpool’s Capital of Culture year when 35,000 gathered at the waterfront for entertainment and fireworks
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