Stewardship of places that enable human interaction and that are sympathetic to the needs of local communities is more than just about maintaining buildings, as important as that may be.The commitment to the long-term future of an area demands not only a strategic vision but careful investment to sustain the right mix of both occupiers and users.
This issue of H&N looks at stewardship from the city scale to the street, across the UK and beyond.
In her reflection on the ‘Long-term stewardship in London: What can we learn from the Great Estates?’ Sarah Yates observes how these great estates have evolved to become more dynamic and proactive. She also identifies several common principles for successful stewardship from taking a strategic and holistic approach towards the urban framework but with a focus on the local, and flexibility, to being proactive.
In many ways Helen Thornton reflects these in her discussion on Saltaire, which as a World Heritage Site presents a unique context where not only is it important to conserve the legacy of the physical environment but also ensure that it remains relevant. It demands, as Thornton points out, striking a balance between a place to live, work, invest in, and visit.
From quite a different and yet no less important perspective, Laura Mazzeo argues that stewardship of a transport system can have a crucial role to play in creating coherent places.The Dragon Tram strategic vision describes how the development and management of a transit system that connects the waterfront at Kowloon in Hong Kong can be a catalyst for change.The point being that it isn’t just the management of the places themselves but the management of a vital artery that will ensure the sustainable economic development of these places.
That stewardship is about taking responsibility is immediately apparent throughout this discussion and as the interview with Andrew Glover from Farebrother shows. It inevitably means that property owners and their agents have to sometimes eschew the easy decisions that lead to large short-term profits in favour of longer term perspectives about community and creating places that people actually want to be.
Communities can also take the initiative as shown in several articles. Simeon Shtebunaev describes how at Portland Works in Sheffield a campaign against a planning application to turn the building into residential accommodation became a co-operative to manage small low-rent workshops supporting an existing small local economy and way of life. In Brixton, Nicola Bacon looks at getting the voice of the community heard and Ben Barker shows how an initiative to use a building for a community centre is spreading beyond that in Bedminster, Bristol.
Effective stewardship demands creative approaches to investment and development as Sarah Yates, Helen Thornton and Laura Mazzeo all point out. Indeed it is implicit in all of the articles. It is appropriate then that as this issue of the Journal goes to bed,The Academy of Urbanism is heading off to Bristol for its 2014 Congress where the city’s stewardship is in the hands of its first elected Mayor – an architect and urbanist. An opportunity, if ever there was one, to show what can be achieved.
The Journal Here and Now
We have rearranged the sections and added some new types of content to reflect what the AoU does, what it knows and what it thinks.We have brought the information on the Academy’s activities to the front – after all these are the things that helps it make a difference.
Of course Academicians are not short of an opinion or two and we have introduced places for these to be expressed. Not only do we have an opinion column but we have also invited David Porter to write a regular column that will round off each issue of the Journal.This time he starts a conversation on ‘Learning to learn from place’.
We have introduced a new section to which we invite all Academicians and Young Urbanists to contribute. It is a space where you can share the great places that you know.We are not too fussy about how you do this – just be creative.
However, the core of the Journal remains the themed section – this time stewardship – for which we will invite contributions from Academicians and Young Urbanists.