Urban Design 112 - Autumn 2009

Coastal Towns

Publication Date: 01 October 2009

The main topic of this issue of Urban Design is coastal towns, and our contributors explore how they are tackling often common problems and reshaping their spaces to offer leisure, employment and residential opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

These include Littlehampton, already seeing a change of perceptions with Thomas Heatherwick’s iconic East Beach Café, and now starting to examine its waterfront with a strategy for the public realm, described by Honoré van Rijswijk. Well advanced in developing its vision and partnerships, Rob Allen shows how Blackpool is creating a new outdoor destination at the famous Tower’s Headland area. Eastbourne is repositioning itself for the culture market with its Towner Gallery - home of artist Eric Ravilious’ work, described by Jefferson Collard. This summer Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton have all witnessed a series of temporary public space installations in collaborative projects by the local councils and universities, reported by Miranda Pearce of SEEDA.

Philip Watkins, Chief Executive of 1st East explains how Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth have been reconnecting their waterfronts to their towns and winning young people’s attention in the process. Taking its mandate from local community interests, Nick Taylor of Scarborough Renaissance describes the sustained dialogue creating projects and themed initiatives throughout the town. Leading with its public realm, Marian Barber illustrates how Weston-super-Mare has been improving and linking its destinations to set quality standards for further developments. Lastly Chris Hall, who initiated the topic following the UDG event in July 2008, provides a valuable review of the main challenges facing coastal towns, and the solutions being tested to give them greater vitality and viability.

There is also a selection of challenging viewpoints, largely about urban designers and their role in the development process: Eline Hansen challenges ideas that urban design is about the common good, rather than just benefitting groups of desirable people; Peter Fletcher describes his role in Croydon’s unique Local Asset Backed Vehicle (LABV); and, Jonathan Kendall sets out 10 lessons on integrating practice development in Riga, Latvia. Georgia Giannopoulou reflects on the pressures on Psiri, a quarter of Athens, and its regeneration processes.

Tom Bolton of CABE describes championing of ordinary places, and the Urban Design Interview learns more about Ken Baker, a key designer of Milton Keynes’ city centre. There are also reports of UDG talks, the study trip to Moscow and The Golden Ring, and the 2009 Annual General Meeting. In a break from featuring shortlisted award projects, this issue revisits two places – Ashford and its shared spaces by Sebastian Loew, and the Isle of Dogs by Matthew Carmona. Urban Design is the leading journal in its field.