active space

From asphalt to active space

Diamond Architects, in collaboration with Public Works, an art/architecture collective, undertook a series of workshops with the residents of Braithwaite House, a 19-storey residential tower block part of the 1960s Banner Estate in north-east London. The aim was to develop a brief for the creation of a welcoming new piece of shared public outdoor space, formerly a bare expanse of asphalt.

The scheme's modest budget (just over £150,000) plus complex logistics including the loading issues of the podium's concrete deck, has led to a design focused on a series of interventions and surface treatments. By introducing pieces of furniture, games, planting and surface treatments, the project has created areas for activity, play and interaction, as well as a space for contemplation.

Living Spaces

In recognition of the shared challenge facing a range of professionals, RUDI, the newly formed Urban Intelligence Network and the Institute of Place Management (IPM) have put together a new publication with one key purpose:
to remind ourselves that even though things may currently be tough economically, our towns and cities have a bigger role in society than just providing us with a place to shop.

Good urban design: never more important

By John Dales

John Dales is on the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment’s enabling panel and is also the independent design advisor on streets to the city of Edinburgh Council. He is director of transport and movement at urban design consultant Urban Initiatives.

‘Added value’ is not just doing more for the same money, sometimes, spending a little more on top of the initial assumed budget will achieve additional positive outcomes out of proportion to the extra spend

Shared space: a proper Peer review

By John Dales

John Dales is on the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment’s enabling panel and is also the independent design advisor on streets to the city of Edinburgh Council. He is director of transport and movement at urban design consultant Urban Initiatives.

Even their Lordships are, quite literally, getting in on the debate

Why no city needs a big transport project

By John Dales

John Dales is on the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment’s enabling panel and is also the independent design advisor on streets to the city of Edinburgh Council. He is director of transport and movement at urban design consultant Urban Initiatives.

For the past few years it’s been my privilege to be an advisor to the City of Edinburgh Council, part of the joy of the role being the need to make regular visits to one of my favourite cities. My involvement began with a weekend-long workshop focused on the urban design aspects of the Edinburgh tram project. To cut a long story short, although this project was already fully up and running – with funding, contractors, a delivery programme and of course penalty clauses in place – some council officers, along with the city’s design champion, had recognised that the range of influences on its design had been too narrow. The workshop was an attempt to begin the process of retro-fitting other design considerations into the project.

Better streets – best value

By John Dales

John Dales is on the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment’s enabling panel and is also the independent design advisor on streets to the city of Edinburgh Council. He is director of transport and movement at urban design consultant Urban Initiatives.

John Dales finds a source of inspiration and realism just right for these times of austerity

Defining a new place

Liverpool One, a £1 billion pound retail-led investment, has transformed and re-activated the heart of the city, says Jamie Scott
The major Liverpool One project, initiated by Liverpool City Council in 1999, was completed by developer Grosvenor in 2008. In terms of creating much more than a shopping centre, driving growth and boosting economic viability, Liverpool One has fulfilled client expectations.

Managing activities, harnessing opportunities

There is a range of interventions that can enhance and animate urban spaces and places, from energizing commercial activity and encouraging new forms of retail to promoting specific events and themed activity in the quest to make places distinctive and engaging. Tom Evans and Peter Stonham look at the response of urban centres to recent challenges
Once upon a time high streets, public squares and other parts of the public environment seemed to almost manage themselves. Traditional activity in a town centre - movement, exchange of goods and diversions, such as street entertainment - just happened. Then came a much more structured regime of traffic and highway management, purpose designed shopping centres in the town centre, followed by competitive brand new environments created out of town.