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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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve just read Jeroen De Flander’s book “The Art of Performance”. He cites numerous examples where people of all ages and abilities have achieved greatness through demonstrating three stages of behaviour: 1. Passion and Purpose 2. Deep Practice and 3. Persistence.
I remember a TV interview with Paul McCartney and (I think) Michael Parkinson where they were discussing the writing of 'I saw her standing there'. McCartney proudly sang his first lines 'She was just seventeen. She could have been a beauty queen’ when John Lennon suggested the second line should be 'You know what I mean'.
I’ve just been listening to Carly Simon talking about the writing of 'You're so Vain'. It's a brilliant pop song - in August 2014, the UK's Official Charts Company crowned it the ultimate song of the 1970s. Like most creations it feels as though it came together easily and perfectly.
The excitement of visiting a new global city is unbounded - the buildings,
the spaces, the infrastructure, the people, the culture - all to be experienced
and explored. First impressions are said to stick, so with a few days in
Toronto supporting the growth of our new studio, I set about making some initial
judgements on how the city made me feel.
I started the run at 10.20 am at Greenwich knowing that I would be running for the next 4-5 hours, which is a daunting prospect. It had been 14 years since my last marathon and although I had trained for this I suddenly felt very nervous. But looking around me, I realised that everyone else would be experiencing the same emotions and gradually started to relax.