Llandudno – Eligible Leasehold Building Land, On Sale On the Gloddaeth Estate, Auction on 28 & 29 August, 1849
The story of the Italian Chapel in Orkney has been told many times, and I have nothing to add to it except my own response to being there. For those unfamiliar with it, it is two corrugated iron Nissen huts placed end to end, and converted into a Catholic chapel by Italian prisoners of war. They arrived in Orkney in 1942, brought there to build four barriers between the islands in order to protect British warships moored in Scapa Flow from German submarines.
San Francisco Plan, 1905, Daniel H. Burnham
As they grow, Cities extend the advantages of urban living to more and more people. The responsibility of City authorities is to nurture this growth in order that society should continue to flourish, and further develop. To that end, I would argue that some of the City’s goals are to keep people from dying, to solve inequalities, to drive shared prosperity, to help people get around, and to build safe, beautiful places as a canvas on which life can unfold.
“Children are a kind of indicator species, if we can build a successful city for children, we will have a successful city for everyone.” I have been thinking a lot recently about how we can better shape cities, to improve the way in which children can engage with them - creating streets and spaces that are safe and enjoyable.
Birmingham 1344-5, drawn by George Demidowicz
Fifty years ago, on 20th March 1969, the magazine New Society published a feature titled Non-Plan: an experiment in freedom, which became notorious and controversial. It derived from a conversation in a pub between the magazine’s editor Paul Barker and the geographer Peter Hall, one of his regular contributors. Discussing the current state of planning and development, Barker floated a subversive idea – could things be any worse if there were no planning at all? They might even be somewhat better.
I referred in the last Endpiece to Jane Jacobs’ ideas about urban diversity, and I am drawn back to the subject again. Ever since reading Death and Life for the first time, in the final year of my architecture course, I have accepted as an axiom of urban design Jacobs’ argument that cities manufacture diversity, and that a big urban concentration of people is necessary in order to create a diverse and rich range of activities and facilities
Parc de la Villette, Paris, ©Bernard Tschumi Architects
As a child in the early 1950s, one of my literary heroes was the great athlete Alf Tupper, who appeared weekly in the Rover magazine. He was a working-class mile runner, whose diet was mainly fish and chips. He worked as a welder in an arch of a railway viaduct, and he sometimes slept there too before a race. Ever since I have been interested in railway arches and the businesses that are found in them. Being an academic, I now refer to their premises as parasitic architecture.
First National Bank of Boston map of Buenos Aires
Taunton Vision 2005
Urban designers like to bang on about the sanctity and the inviolability of public space (well, I do). But there is a sliding scale of value which we put upon different kinds of street. We put a lower value on one which is full of motor vehicles passing through, and a higher value on one where people on foot can move freely and use the street as a social space.
Evolving Lobtau, Reviving the town for Dresden
At a meeting of a design review panel we assessed a scheme for 40 houses, most of which were to be built on two cul-de-sacs. We were all decidedly unpersuaded by the proposal, on the grounds of its internal ‘unconnectedness’ as well as for other failings.
Josef Kleihues’ masterplan for Potsdamer Platz, Berlin
London Underground Map, 1992
In July I gave a talk about early municipal housing in central Birmingham. I showed seven case studies, which went from the first council houses (1890), to the first council flats (1900), and on to the first high-rise flats (1955).
Copenhagen ‘Finger Plan’ (Fingerplanen) 1947 Regional Planning Office (1947, reprinted 1993) Skitseforslag til Egnsplan for Storkøbenhavn (Copenhagen: Regional Planning Office)
The wonderful Flatpack film festival hit Birmingham again in April, with a packed six-day programme of events in 24 different venues. Two documentaries made last year about two parallel lives, those of Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) and Laurie Baker (1917- 2007), were outstanding films for me.