YU Small Grants Scheme 2018 Recipients!

Announcing the Young Urbanists Small Grants Scheme 2018 Recipients!

This year we received great ideas and proposals, ranging in originality and diversity. We are pleased to announce the recipients of the Small Grants Scheme. Congratulations to our recipients Lucy Moore & Duncan McNaughton, Lucy Wallwork, and Philippa Banister!!

Lucy Moore & Duncan McNaughton
Fast Track Urbanism

Fast Track Urbanism is focused on the potential to create publicly and environmentally positive projects by piggybacking on the political, legal and economic forces involved in creating logistics parks.

This project will study the fast-tracked planning processes available to logistics park development with the aim of suggesting how they might be used to deliver other works which are in the public interest such as environmental infrastructure, energy infrastructure and housing.

This project engages with themes and issues such as land use, planning processes, commercial development, infrastructural development, housing provision, funding
models, governance structures, community engagement in infrastructure and large project development and collaboration between private stakeholders and public

The project is also concerned with the role that urban designers, landscape architects, architects and planners typically play in large private developments. Often ‘good design’ is applied to logistics parks in an attempt to smooth over concerns about the visual impact on their surroundings and their environmental impact. This project aims to instead put designers and the public in a more active role, offering land for logistic parks (and other large scale projects) in return for other necessary works to be added to the development.

Lucy Wallwork
Retrofitting the khruschevka

The idea for this project began with reflection on emerging news items in the post-Soviet world of a series of political projects to demolish the old khruschevka neighbourhoods of postward mixed-use blocks on the outskirts of cities across the region. This happened most notoriously in Moscow, where President Putin recently
announced a wave of demolitions. Justified using a well-worn narrative of ‘progress’, many of these neighbourhoods are being torn down to make way to allow for a new way of life in so-called ‘novostroiki’ (high-rise neighbourhoods, often of dubious quality), which frequently fragments the mixed-used neighbourhoods, alignment of transit and public space that made these places ‘liveable’ in the first place. This might al sound somewhat to those who witnessed the transformations wrought by the 1960s on UK towns and cities.

The reputation of Soviet architecture and planning tends to be dominated by images of windswept plazas and wide military-style boulevards – anything but the ‘human scale’ we strive for today.

However while khruschevka neighbourhoods today may look shabby, neglected and distinctly ‘unmodern’, if you look a little closer you will see that they fulfil a lot of the principles of ‘human scale’ and transit-oriented urbanism that we strive for today at the cutting edge of urbanism. Most importantly – they are built in clusters around metro stops at a walkable distance, they are mixed-use developments that incorporate not only residential blocks but also libraries, schools, cultural centres, and local shops, as well as generous public space. Of course much of this structure has been deeply affected by the chaotic ‘laissez-faire’ years of the post-collapse 1990s (and subsequent waves of oil wealth), but much of the foundations of these communities remains. Most importantly, despite the high-rises increasingly dotting the skylines of cities in this region, these benighted blocks are still where the vast majority of the post-Soviet population still lives.

The design of this project – which takes the form of a half-day workshop – was inspired in part by the model of the Manchester-based Carbon Coop, which supports the upgrading of older housing stock to low carbon standards as an alternative to demolition and rebuilding, Similarly, this project seeks to explore (in a very early-stage, experimental fashion) the ways in which we might pursue in- situ upgrading of Soviet-era blocks. In this case, the goal would be not purely to make the buildings more sustainable, but will take a broader view to look at the entire neighbourhood and how it could be enhanced, incrementally upgraded or re-envisioned along with improvements to the buildings themselves.

Phillippa Banister
Her Barking

‘Her Barking’ will gather key insights on what the issues are and observe how women
navigate and inhabit spaces and routes through Barking Town Centre, collaboratively design a range of small changes to the built environment and test them to see if they can have any impact on perceptions of safety and increase community cohesion.

Barking Town Centre is undergoing huge transformation as new homes are being built and people moving in to the area. In the last two decades Barking and Dagenham has seen unprecedented growth and change in demographics with the percentage of White British residents living in the borough reducing from 85% in 2001 to 37% in 2017 (Greater London Authority). The pace of this change has had multiple and complex effects and despite Barking Town Centre feeling like a vibrant place of huge opportunity, qualitative and quantitative data gathered by the local authority has identified Barking Town Centre as a place where women, from a variety of backgrounds don’t feel safe.

Currently 51% of residents do not feel safe after dark ​(compared to a National Survey of 21%). The majority of these residents are women. ‘Her Barking’ is an open source project that will engage women from a variety of backgrounds (those who have experienced hate speech and those who have not) in Barking Town Centre and invite them to collaboratively explore, design and test ideas in which small changes to the built environment could have an impact on the number of women who feel safe in the Town Centre.

Stay tuned for more details on how YUs can get engaged in the projects!

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