Matthew Carmona AoU
Professor of Urban Design, UCL, The Bartlett
The Place Alliance
22 July 2015, London
The Place Alliance formed at the tail end of 2014 to bring together the myriad organisations and institutions involved in promoting, influencing and shaping England’s built environment.
Described as a movement, the Alliance is currently being led by Matthew Carmona AoU, professor of urban design at UCL’s The Bartlett. In his talk at the Academy’s Mid-Year Review, Carmona presented a potted history of the movement’s origins, coming directly as a result of the Farrell Review and with the aim of addressing the void left by the winding-down of the government’s architecture watch-dog: the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.
Carmona talked about his ongoing research at The Bartlett into the effectiveness and perception of Cabe. Created at a time when design had risen to become one of the presiding government’s top agendas, winds inevitably changed and the organisation’s demise was confirmed. But despite some revelling in Cabe’s downfall – many were critical of its ties to government whilst wielding powerful influence across the industry – Carmona was keen to stress that its impact was hugely positive for the built environment.
And from this, Carmona said, comes the Place Alliance’s main aim. To take up the role in which Cabe really excelled: offering leadership to a deeply fragmented industry. Hearing his talk, one would struggle to argue with this quest, let alone suppress the enthusiasm it has already generated.
But where the alliance goes, Carmona admitted, he is not yet sure. What was clear from his talk, however, was that its biggest battle may be to once again force the focus of ministers’ whims.