Tag Archives: Urban design

William Alvis Brogden writes about Aberdeen as a “designed city”

William Alvis Brogden’s book about the development and design of the city of Aberdeen was published earlier this year. You can find out more about A City’s Architecture: Aberdeen as “Designed City” on our website, but in the meantime, here is an extended extract from the author’s preface…

Aberdeen, like other successful designed towns can be seen as The Perfect Pattern for a Town. It, indeed like many cities, despite the palpable sense of excitement felt among those in a train or plane as it approaches the city, takes some knowing before it can be loved. Venice, or Paris, it is not.

That is the first lesson: a city may be an excellent one without being at the top of everybody’s list of best towns. There is another, more profound lesson here too. That the knowing of a town takes time, and it also takes study if it is to be other than local received wisdom. Curiously such studies are rare, and the present book is the kind I would wish to read about any city but am rarely able to do so, simply because they do not exist.

Aberdeen is old and it has been fortunate not to be destroyed by hostile armies. Its prosperity has been slow of growth but sure. It has kept its records moderately well, and much better than many towns. It has been constructed out of the most durable of materials, and it has not stinted itself foolishly by building cheap. Its topography or landscape is friendly but quirky…just awkward enough to encourage leaving it well alone and so ideal designs have been accommodated to local character. And, of course, the work of earlier citizens is always there to guide, or to form a friendly impediment to change. All these have formed over a long time the way the city is, and the way it looks.

Its citizens have been more adventurous than many, and have travelled much for curiosity or fortune, in business or in service. Whatever was the fashion in whatever hot-spot, there was an Aberdonian to note it, and sometimes to bring it back home where occasionally he was able to convince his neighbours to adopt it. Although it has always been remote it has never been ignorant of current thinking, or provincial in applying it.

For its own reasons the city decided to embark on a series of urban improvements in the 18th century, none of which could have been certain of success, and in even the boldest the collateral damage to the town of these improvements was minimized. Apart from being induced to lose one’s house, at a good rate, the creation of the new South Entry at the turn of the century was conducted so fastidiously, that most Aberdonians were little troubled by mess and upset. In that decade the town simply continued about its business.

Once it had broken out of its mediaeval form the opportunities to develop became part of the town’s business, and at each stage…design, reflection sometimes disputatious, usually allowed a deliberate growth in area and population. Always the principles guiding them were, what is the best pattern or model and how does that suit us as Aberdonians. When affirmation was general then the project went ahead. Rarely was it otherwise, and on those few occasions the mess has still to be sorted.

Sadly, our collective memory needs to be tutored and reminded. That is so even in Aberdeen. It cannot be trusted to leaders of politics or business to also have the answers to design matters, and to have mastered the lessons of history. Becoming rich and or powerful is a full time occupation which does not necessarily carry with it wider wisdom.

I have been fortunate in having the job of teaching university students about design and the history of architecture, mostly in Aberdeen. From the most fundamental sharing of the works of illustrious masters such as Alberti or Wren we have engaged more locally with Gibbs, Campbell, and Adam. From them, masters and students, I have learned much, and with them we have explored all kinds of conditions and possibilities, about Berlin, Venice or Aberdeen. Aberdeen has been our focus for the last two decades in studies linking history and design, and in those studies the ideas and knowledge in this book have come about.

About the Author: Bill Brogden is a critic, architectural historian, conservationist and consultant on design policy and master planning. After training as architect at the NC State School of Design, and post graduate study at Edinburgh and in London he has spent his professional life in research and teaching from Aberdeen.

Review of the book:

‘One of the most comprehensive, readable and enjoyable books written about the architectural history of Aberdeen. A herculean labour of love, packed with humour, the substance is impressive and makes for a fascinating and revealing read. Distinguished and eloquent, I recommend this to Aberdonians and scholars alike.’   Ken Hood, Partner, Hopkins Architects, UK

More information about A City’s Architecture: Aberdeen as “Designed City”

‘Learning from Delhi’ wins the Urban Design Publisher award 2012

We’re delighted that Learning from Delhi: Dispersed Initiatives in Changing Urban Landscapes has won the Urban Design Publisher award.

Congratulations to Maurice Mitchell, Shamoon Patwari and Bo Tang!

The winners were announced last night at a presentation event at RUSI. Here is the list (from the Urban Design Group) of all the winners and runners up:

Urban Design Awards 2012 – Winners

(Other entries listed in no particular order)

Practice  Award

Joint winners:

  • Studio REAL – Moat Lane, Towcester
  • URBED – Brentford Lock West

Also shortlisted:

  • John Thompson & Partners – Suzhou Eco-town
  • NEW Masterplanning – Greyfriars, Gloucester
  • NJBA+U – RUSH 2020 Strategic View
  • Richards Partington – Howden Urban Extension Masterplan

Public Sector Award

Winner:  Exeter City Council – Exeter Residential Design SPD

  • Carlisle City Council – Castle Street public realm scheme
  • Partnership for Urban South Hampshire – Quality Places Charter
  • Gateshead Council – Freight Depot Visioning Document
  • Planning Aid for London and Knott Architects – Tactile City Model
  • North East Derbyshire District Council – Urban Design Academy

Student Award

Winner: Ian Brodie (University of Strathclyde) – Gallowgate Renewal

  • Ralf Furuland (Edinburgh College of Art) – Radical Reconstruction
  • Dongni Yao (University of Cardiff) – St Pauls Neighbourhood, Bristol

Publisher Award

Winner: Ashgate – Learning from Delhi: Dispersed Initiatives in Changing Urban Landscapes, Maurice Mitchell, Shamoon Patwari and Bo Tang

  • RIBA Publishing – NewcastleGateshead: Shaping the City, Peter Hetherington,
  • Routledge – Urban Design: The Composition of complexity, Ron Kasprisin
  • Wiley – Urban Design Since 1945:  A Global Perspective, D G Shane

The Lifetime Achievement Award for 2012 was presented to the Responsive Environments team – Sue McGlynn, Graham Smith, Ian Bentley, Alan Alcock and Paul Murrrain

Learning from Delhi – ‘An engaging book, joyful to go through’

Posted by Fiona Dunford, Marketing Executive

For the second year, the UDG Awards Programme will include a Publishers Award. Publishers in the urban design field were invited to nominate one of their books published in the last 18 months.

Learning from Delhi: Dispersed initiatives in changing urban landscapes, by Maurice Mitchell, has been selected as one of the four finalists and is reviewed in the Autumn edition of Urban Design. The review panel which comprises Juliet Bidgood, Marc Furnival, Jonathan Kendall and Laurie Mentiplay and is chaired by Alastair Donald, will choose the winner, which will be announced at the Awards event in February 2012.

Useful and beneficial for student, practitioner and academic alike, Learning from Delhi not only brings together notions of the spatio-physical and socio-economic, but also spatio-temporal and socio-environmental. An engaging book, joyful to go through; evoking the innocence of being a student, yet carried out with thoroughness and professional dedication, as well as the seriousness that such an exploding urban situation demands, particularly with the accumulating implications of not addressing these issues, and highlighting that doing nothing is not an option.   Marc Furnival

An invaluable theoretical and practical guide to ‘thinking global and acting local’, Learning from Delhi is based on a ground-breaking course run by the London Metropolitan University School of Architecture, in which students produce schemes from research undertaken during field trips to India. It provides a comprehensive review of the course and of the schemes produced since 2002, and argues the value of linking practical projects with education in the studio.

The book also received great feedback from The Architectural Review:

‘This book is a powerful wake-up call to all architects. It speaks about the meaning of architecture in circumstances that appear very different to those with which we are familiar in the West. The line of enquiry always revolves around the question of “how might architecture improve the way we live?”… It is a manifesto for an alternative form of architectural practice,… a testament to the value of an education – not a training – and undoubtedly equips students with strategies that are increasingly relevant.

The reader is offered beautiful and mind blowingly complicated plans of existing settlements that have been surveyed, not copied and pasted. Evocatively shady interior views are set into landscapes strewn with debris; all the drawings inhabited by people. This is the landscape of humanity, where architecture serves as a backdrop, not a monument.’

More about ‘Learning from Delhi: Dispersed initiatives in changing urban landscapes’

New books – Geography, Urban Design

Alcohol, Drinking, Drunkenness: (Dis)Orderly Spaces   Mark Jayne, University of Manchester, UK, Gill Valentine, University of Leeds, UK and Sarah L. Holloway, Loughborough University, UK

Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects   Edited by Tim Cresswell, University of London, UK and Peter Merriman, Aberystwyth University, UK

Learning from Delhi: Dispersed Initiatives in Changing Urban Landscapes   Shamoon Patwari and Bo Tang, Written by Maurice Mitchell, London Metropolitan University, UK

Extreme Landscapes of Leisure: Not a Hap-Hazardous Sport    Patrick Laviolette, Tallinn University, Estonia

Integrating Seaports and Trade Corridors   Edited by Peter Hall, Simon Fraser University, Canada, Robert J. McCalla, Saint Mary’s University, Canada, Claude Comtois, Université de Montréal, Canada and  Brian Slack, Concordia University, Canada

Local Heritage, Global Context: Cultural Perspectives on Sense of Place   Edited by John Schofield, University of York, UK and Rosy Szymanski, English Heritage, UK

Rural Housing, Exurbanization, and Amenity-Driven Development: Contrasting the “Haves” and the “Have Nots”   Edited by David Marcouiller, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, Mark Lapping, University of Southern Maine, USA and Owen Furuseth, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, USA

Sports Event Management: The Caribbean Experience   Edited by Leslie-Ann Jordan, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, Ben Tyson, Central Connecticut State University, USA, Carolyn Hayle, University of the West Indies, Jamaica and David Truly, Central Connecticut State University, USA

Swinging City: A Cultural Geography of London 1950–1974   Simon Rycroft, University of Sussex, UK

Towards Healthy Cities: Comparing Conditions for Change   Alexander Otgaar, Jeroen Klijs and Leo van den Berg, all of the European Institute for Comparative Urban Research, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The Politics of the Piazza – Eamonn Canniffe

One of the bestselling titles from Ashgate’s Urban Design list is The Politics of the Piazza, by Eamonn Canniffe. It explores the relationship between political systems and their methods of representation in architecture through a detailed study of the principal spaces of Italian cities, and is illustrated by contemporary photographs and analytical drawings.

‘Eamonn Canliffe’s book is very important. It describes the spatial, political, and historical characteristics of Italy’s heterogeneous public spaces…for any architect in search of inspiration it is tempting to see this as the most relevant book on Italian urban space since Camillo Sitte wrote ‘City Planning According to Artistic Principles’ in 1889
Architecture Today

Continue reading