MY OWN VIEW IS…
URBANISM IS ABOUT HOW WE MANAGE THE PROCESS OF CHANGE
by Dr Nicholas Falk AoU
Now that so many excellent places have been selected for the Urbanism Awards, it is timely for the Academy to consider how towns and cities can learn to make the most of whatever assets they have. Clearly it involves more than just the look or liveliness of a place.‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and a Victorian planned town like Saltaire is fundamentally different to a new mixed use quarter in Dublin’s docklands.
Nor it just a question of how well the place in question ties in with the surrounding area, or Lamb’s Conduit Street could never have won the Great Street award. Urbanism is about how we manage the process of change. As Academicians we should be concerned primarily with transformation, that is, how the various stakeholders work together over the years in building a shared vision, attracting the resources, and putting plans into effect.What works depends very much on the context or the league the town or city competes in. Success depends on leadership as well as good luck, but there are many routes to success which the Academy might promote.
Academicians interested in the topic may want to follow my blog ‘postcardfromthefuture’ which draws lessons from unusual places I have been fortunate enough to visit. More can be gained from the book that Peter Hall has just published, ‘Good Cities, Better Lives: how Europe rediscovered the lost art of urbanism’, with my contributions. It sets out lessons for what the UK can learn from cities like Freiburg, Lille or Malmö that have moved up a league in attracting people to live, work and invest in them.
So why don’t we ask the question, what can post-industrial cities like Stoke or Newcastle learn from similar places, and how can the lessons be transferred?
Dr Nicholas Falk AoU is founder director of URBED.