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One of the many irritations of getting older is observing ideas presented as new which you can remember from many years ago. This happens with increasing frequency. For me recent examples include RIBA reorganisation, Greta Thunberg at the UN (who else remembers Severn Cullis-Suzuki’s speech in 1992?) or the redistribution of opportunities in the UK. In each case I feel it must now surely be time for the talking to stop and greater progress to be made. In this article Chris revisits the 2005 SuperCity exhibition and examines it in relation to the “Northern Powerhouse”
Founding Partner Rob Naybour shares our proposals for remapping HS2 in Manchester at Place North West’s Transport and Infrastructure panel on November 16. The proposals focus on the change from a terminus station to a through station aiming to incorporate Northern Powerhouse Rail.
The London Society host wonderful debates every year and in 2020 these have been successfully adapted to Zoom. Weston Williamson + Partners had agreed to organise and host a debate about The Future of Transport in London before the emergence of Covid 19 and the pandemic’s influence on the topic has obviously been immense. The debate started with an introduction to separate necessary short-term solutions whilst considering longer term aims. Five speakers were invited offering experience from the world of research, engineering, industrial design and service providers. An audience of around 50 submitted questions on line following each of the speakers’ five-minute presentations.
I had a dreadful sense of foreboding and as I closed the door to our studio in Waterloo at the start of the March lockdown. I knew I would miss the exchange of ideas and the casual conversations about our business, about design. I worried that the technology to work from home would measure up. I’ve never been a fan of working from home. I need colleagues. It’s all I’ve known. Whenever one of my Partners over the past 35 years is “working from home” my first thought is “day off”. I fear I may even have expressed that view from time to time. It’s my background. Work means going somewhere to work. Yet here we are 9 months later and although some of us have ventured back to the office, I’ve changed. We all have.
In my role as a mentor for both the RIBA and the Company of Architects I found myself looking through the list of AJ100 Architects over the weekend in order to assist one of my mentees. It was interesting to see just how many were represented by the Architects Company. The Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects (to give it it’s full name) is a modern Livery Company.
It is increasingly important to update our current housing stock as it will account for 85% of that in 2050 according to the CIOB. The social rented sector should be a priority as 17% of English households live in affordable homes (CIB). Figures show that these people have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and other health issues due to poor ventilation, refuse strategies, damp and overcrowding.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the isolation of rural communities from the country’s transport infrastructure.
With a growing elderly and vulnerable population, matched with splintering social structures, many find themselves lacking access to social and communal support. Meanwhile, rural bus services are increasingly underfunded and underused, constantly threatened with closure at great detriment to those who rely on them to support their daily lives.
Digital technology is rapidly changing the way that airports operate, streamlining efficiency and creating new possibilities for improving `end to end’ customer experience. By adopting a more human perspective, airports can spatially respond to the demands of the aging population, in particular passengers with dementia.
In September 2019 when no-one had heard of Covid-19 Chris was asked to introduce a Symposium organised by the RIBA on the subject of ‘The Happy City’ in Kuwait. The introduction has been updated, filmed and is available to watch here.
We are passionate about transport architecture because it shapes cities, helping to reduce reliance on cars and make for healthier streets that people can enjoy. We believe that good public transport is vital to enjoyable, liveable cities.
I was asked to help at a new local vaccination centre next to Wembley Stadium. You will be pleased to know that I wasn’t let anywhere near a syringe. Or even the plasters. I was put outside in the car park to help direct the steady stream of visitors.
During the Covid-19 lockdown many of us have had the chance to appreciate nature a little more than usual. Maybe for some spending time in their gardens, others the local park or walking round the local streets. For others spending time by a river trying to focus on the sunlight glinting on the water in Durham before starting a long journey home.
As I’m writing this (working from home obviously) it occurs to me that it is five years to the day that Bill Gates gave his TED talk predicting the pandemic we are now in the middle of. If you haven’t seen it, you might find it interesting. But even in 2015 it was nothing we didn’t know.
WW+P have closed our UK studios for the next few weeks and set up the technology to ensure business as usual and enable all our work to be carried out at home to help slow down the spread of Covid-19. We have ensured that all our teams have the technology to communicate and to be able to securely access the files which they need to work efficiently. It will be challenging but will teach us to work better.
The Weston Williamson mission statement talks about Creating Civilised Cities so quite often I am asked what constitutes a civilised city. The big picture answer is that our work encourages people to use safe, efficient, convenient, well designed public transport rather than their cars and free the streets for pedestrians and cyclists.
Valerie Le Vaillant, who recently became Master of the Company of Architects, has announced that apprenticeships are to be her major focus for the year. This is a subject close to my heart. I am as passionate about social mobility as others rightly are about race and gender equality. To me social mobility embraces all types of inequality and disadvantage. As a member of Valerie's Education Committee under John Assael as Chair, I will do everything I can to help.
The story goes that Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a novel in six words. His brilliant response was “For Sale. Baby shoes, never worn”. It conjures up a tale of grief, heartbreak and tragedy. All in six words.