Space Place Life 2017, showcasing and celebrating the finalists of the Urbanism Awards with poetry by Ian McMillan, drawings by David Rudlin AoU, and figuregrounds by Lathams.
In this edition:
The European City of the Year
The Great Town
The Great Neighbourhood
The Great Street
The Great Place
At the threshold of our second decade, some might have expected us to be running out of great places to celebrate, having an archive now of 165 assessment visits. This year’s finalists offer, however, lessons that are at least equal to those of previous years.
With our principal sponsor, Grosvenor, we have reinforced our connections this year with current and past Awards winners. We have revisited Bristol, San Sebastián, Rotterdam, Freiburg and Glasgow and engaged with Dublin, Hastings, and Dundee. And of course we have explored in depth our 15 worthy 2017 finalists celebrated here.
There are distinct differences between our three Great Places, but all reinforce the benefit of intensive focus on a specific challenge with strong leadership and long-term commitment; of resources and effort.
Our Great Streets this year have all overcome significant historic difficulties through environmental improvements and the encouragement of a diverse mix of mainly local enterprises serving both the local and the wider community.
Our three Great Neighbourhoods demonstrate what can be achieved through visionary leadership with long term commitment, whether led by community or business interests, or a combination of both.
The three Great Towns for 2017 are all well-known, but for their distinctly different characteristics. They offer an opportunity to compare and contrast, but all demonstrate the value of dedicated leadership; from politicians, professionals and community representatives .
I joined the teams visiting all three of our European Cities finalists this year. They all demonstrate the self-confidence of cities with a clear vision and the support of citizens to get on with it. Their characters are different – reflecting regional and national characteristics – but vitality and complexity are common to all.
Visiting all these places is a pleasure and a privilege. Recording the experience and the lessons to be learned involves a lot of work. I thank the representatives of our finalists who prepared their self-assessments and hosted the excellent visits. I’d also like to thank the Academicians who not only enjoyed the visits but gave their time to drawing together our assessments. Thank you in particular to the Assessment Team leaders: Nick Childs and Francis Newton (Places), Alistair Barr and Geoff Haslam (Streets), Tim Challans and Jef Smith (Neighbourhoods), Michele Grant and James Jackson (Towns), David Lumb, Andreas Markides, Nicholas Falk and especially Kerri Farnsworth, who has invested a great deal in leading our visits to the three European cities.
I’d also like to thank our Artist-in-Residence David Rudlin for the drawings; and the graphics team at Lathams for the figure grounds, which add to the distinctiveness and value of this record of our visits. Once again the sonnets of our Poet-in-Residence Ian McMillan have added his unique perspective to provide a lasting memento for each finalist.
This is my last contribution to Space Place Life as chairman of the Academy. I remain continually impressed by the commitment of those Academicians who participate in the Awards process, and encourage all Academicians who have not yet participated to make time for the experience in the future. As ‘tourism with a purpose’ it turns a city break into invaluable CPD.
Most of all I am impressed by the people we have met in the places we visit – citizens, politicians and professionals who are making better places because they can’t help it; to do otherwise would deny a natural instinct to engage, improve and make a difference. The Academy of Urbanism isn’t looking for award winners; we are looking for better understanding of the urban condition and better ways of improving it. The Awards are a means to this end, and an opportunity to celebrate with those places that are following the same path.
Steven Bee AoU
City: Kerri Farnsworth AoU
Town: Michelle Grant AoU
Neighbourhood: Tim Challans AoU
Street: Alistair Barr AoU
Place: Nick Childs AoU & Francis Newton AoU