Friday, 23 July 2010

Community Right to Build


News today that things are changing and that planning is either getting more or less democratic dependent upon what side of the house you are currently sitting. While the cynical part of me sees the launch of a community 'right to build' as a response to related land owners in the Tory shires and another step in the government unpicking the urban emphasis of the last thirteen years of planning and regeneration policy, another part of me can see the empowerment potential for those with the capacity to use the new powers. The one thing certain behind this is the unfortunate lessening of planning as a profession. Introduction to the initiative can be found at CLG [July 2010] The Community Right to Build [Communities and Local Government, London].

Retro recycling


We like the style and ethos of the retro caravans combined with reclaimed and recycled materials and furnishing at the Larosa camp near Whitby in North Yorkshire. Retro camping and caravans are the eco holidays of the future that fit well with the credit crunch limitations for overseas travel. Almost convinced this is cooler that an Airstream - 'Carry on Glamping'.

Street Art in the White House

For someone like Ben Eine, who was largely unknown in spite of his efforts to brighten up the streets of Britain - a screenprint of his has just been given as a gift to Barrack Obama by David Cameron [really chosen by Sam] on his first official visit to Washington. Is this the coming of age of positive and honest street art or just another attempt at cool Britain? We like colour and we like typeface, so putting him in the mainstream can only be a good thing.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Stamp of Renewal

I was thinking about good 'examples of place' to visit in the north east as a starting point for some urban design training when I remembered this example of then-best-practice from a set of Royal Mail urban renewal stamps from 1984. As I remember, it was at the same time as the series of Garden Festivals around the UK. While the selection of examples for the four stamps and the first day cover does show a thinly veiled need to have regional representation, it is interesting to remember the patience required in renewal for most of the projects where the Garden Festivals became the launch pad for both Liverpool and Glasgow to become European Capital of Culture - with a near miss for NewcastleGateshead on the Dunston Staiths housing site. Even then it is useful to note the different standards for urban regeneration today compared to 26 years ago - who would visit the Durham Riverside as a good example of development today?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Piano Staircase

Interesting experiment in changing human default slob setting through the introduction of some fun and interactivity. Interesting, fun and actually beneficial for health [well a little beneficial]? Check out the piano staircase project and video.

Friday, 2 July 2010

The Ashington Group

Toying with ideas for social enterprise and that are relevant for today we have been looking at the ideas and legacy of the Pitmen Painters - the name given to the 'Ashington Group', mainly pitmen from the mid-Northumberland coal field from the mid 1930s onwards. It is commonly a group called 'an experiment in art education' but has as much to do with social observation and recording community change from a participant position. The interesting approach is in people undertaking the act of creating for themselves rather than relying on a professional artist recording on their behalf. Their 'proudly unprofessional' work at the time attracted the attention of surrealists, modernists, documentary photographers and mass observers but was largely
forgotten about until it was rediscoved in the 1970s when a record of the group became published by William Feaver and in turn inspired a stage play by Lee Hall. The collection is on display in the new Woodhorn Colliery Museum and Gallery and has inspired an number of museum art products designed as part of a national Museumaker project - including the 'soot storm' by artist Rebecca Chitty, interesting for anyone with a snowglobe collection.

Urban Orchard

Interesting highlight to the Festival of Architecture in London was the provision of a community garden and urban orchard on a vacant site on the south bank of the Thames. Interesting for several ideas, it includes the LivingARK by Zedfactory and ProjectARK, and exhibitions on cider making linked to fruit tree planting within the community garden. The temporary nature might by a useful approach for dealing creatively with many urban development sites that have been delayed and / or cancelled within the current economic climate.