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Peter Murray

 

CIRIA, the construction industry research and information association, is holding its third annual debate on the issues surrounding the urban regeneration of our cities on 21 June at the Royal Society of Chemistry. The event will bring together highly regarded senior professionals from the engineering and built environment sector to discuss 21st Century challenges in regenerating our existing cities by balancing economic growth, environmental protection and social inclusion.

Chaired by Peter Murray, speakers include

  • George Ferguson CBE, Past president RIBA and first elected Mayor of Bristol
  • Dr Steffen Lehmann, Professor of Sustainable Architecture, University of Portsmouth
  • Louise Brooke-Smith, Partner and UK Head of Town Planning, Arcadis

For further information or to book a ticket, visit the CIRIA site here.

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Peter Murray

 

The Travellers Club in Pall Mall were generous enough to invite members of the Society for a private tour. Jo East was lucky enough to get a ticket and reports. 

Our host for the day was Club Secretary David Broadhead. Asked to explain his role he denotes himself as “Headmaster of a Public School for Adults”. Having been in post 10 years he brings with him as a former hotelier all the nous and knowhow to both look after this Grade 1 listed building and its 1300 members.

Assembling in the Outer Morning Room, one of the five major rooms we were to see on our visit, David explained the club’s history: Founded in 1819 after the Napoleonic Wars the club was set up as a meeting place for anyone who ventured 500 miles from Trafalgar Square. Undertaking what we would now know today as “networking” tales would be exchanged, the latest maps pored over and anecdotes shared and bested. Obviously today to travel 500 miles is considerably easier than at its founding so the rules have been changed. Now members must have travelled to four countries! This isn’t the end of the process however: There is a waiting list, members can only be proposed, seconded, gain five additional signatures of support and then dine with the Club’s membership committee before being accepted. Although the Foreign Secretary of the time is offered honorary membership – of which the present incumbent has taken full use.

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Peter Murray

‘Guerilla Geographer’ Daniel Raven-Ellison spoke to the Society in the meeting rooms at Allies + Morrison about his vision to turn London into a ‘National Park City’. Ben Taylor of Hawkins Brown went along to listen.

Dan Raven-Ellison is on a mission. Donning an EEG headset, the self-professed ‘guerrilla geographer’ has walked each of the UK’s national parks and many of its cities – including all 32 London boroughs – measuring the emotional affect of each landscape. Crossing fields, parks, motorways, high streets and wildernesses, his brain activity was recorded every step of the way. The conclusion of this techno-psycho-geographical traverse? Urban greenery can be just as stimulating a landscape as a national park – we just don’t realise it.

Opening with the now well-used primer that in 2007 humanity became a majority urban species, the talk began with a barrage of statistics charting the cost of our growing disconnection from the natural world – and its expensive. In lockstep with our increasing urbanity is our torpidity: obesity costs us £900m a year and one in five of the capital’s children are overweight. Meanwhile, mental health conditions cost London £26bn a year. Both of these issues are exacerbated by limited access to outdoor activity (one child in seven hasn’t visited green space of any quality in over a year, we’re told) and could be greatly improved if Londoners had more frequent access to higher-quality outdoor space. We walk our dogs, Dan jabs, because if we don’t they get fat, unhappy and chew up the sofa; why think children should be any different?

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Peter Murray

 

A free two day workshop organised by architecture practice what if: projects, London Metropolitan University’s Cass Cities programme and Cass Architecture Studio 8, local business association Vital OKR, community group Peckham Weeklies, Livesey Exchange workshop, Treasure House and Southwark Council.

A talking, drawing, making + thinking workshop with residents, businesses, urban designers, and anyone keen on a good future for the Old Kent Road.

Between Peckham Park Road and Burgess Park developers are proposing big scale change, but have forgotten to ask many people for their ideas. This workshop is the start of a discussion that can influence the future. It’s an experiment in collaboration. We don’t know where it will go! Please come and join in, for as much or as little time as you can.

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Peter Murray

 

The latest of the Society’s Saturday walks saw Blue Badge Guide Angela Morgan take 25 members to see the delights of Camberwell. Hannah Murphy reports (and took these photographs).

The tour began in Camberwell Green, a spacious common in the heart of Camberwell. Angela, our Blue Badge tour guide, explained that ‘Camber’ means crooked and that Camberwell literally meant ‘Crooked Well’. Historically Camberwell Green and St Giles Church, a Victorian gothic church on the hill, formed the heart of a village surrounded by farms and market gardens.

We ventured up Denmark Hill, noting the ceramic Camberwell Beauty above a shopfront. The Camberwell Beauty, also known as Morning Glory, is a maroon butterfly with blue spots and a yellow petticoat and was given its name after it was first sighted in Britain in 1748 near Camberwell.

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Peter Murray

 

By 2035, the number of over-60s in London alone is expected to rise by 48%, and the over-80s group is set to increase by 70%.The built environment has a huge impact on the experience of ageing, affecting those who live, work or visit London.

Future of London’s six month research programme asked how older people will afford the housing they want, and as a sector, how we can to provide the amenities they need.

The final report identifies challenges, best practice, innovation and practical recommendations for ensuring a better London to age in.

You can download the report here.

 

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Peter Murray

 

15 May saw the Society meet at Pilbrow and Partners to hear Rebecca Barrett, Principal Adviser of the London Heritage at Risk team at Historic England talk about some of London’s most interesting and unusual sites at risk. Ian Morrison reports.

The event was introduced by Fred Pilbrow of the practice, who described some of the work his firm is doing with heritage sites (including 8 Albert Embankment; the Wren church of St. Mary Somerset; and the old EMD cinema in Walthamstow) before handing over to Rebecca Barrett.

Rebecca heads the team at Historic England which produces the annual Heritage at Risk (HAR) Register. This gives priority to sites (mainly residential buildings and places of worship but also monuments, parks, public buildings, gardens and cemeteries) at risk of falling into serious neglect and disrepair. The causes can range from one-off events such as a fire to functional redundancy through to lack of maintenance.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the register. The current version (2017) contains 5290 assets, which is 97 fewer than in 2016. There is a lot of churn as new ones come on and repair or restoration enables others to be removed. There are still 450 from the first register in 1998. The aim is to see an annual net reduction.

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Peter Murray

 

The Annual General Meeting of the London Society will be held on the evening of Monday, 16 July (6pm). 

Full details will be published shortly, along with the 2017 accounts, but we wanted to give members notice so that you can save the date in your diaries.

The minutes of the 2017 meeting can be found here.

If you have a motion that you would like to be debated at the AGM, or would like to put yourself up for election as a trustee, please email director@londonsociety.org.uk

Motions and nominations must be received before midnight on 23 June so that they can be circulated to members. (Proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Society need to be received before midnight on 15 June.)

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Peter Murray

 

Could you be a Trustee (committee member) for the London Society?

We’re looking for new members of the committee to help continue the Society’s growth, providing guidance, opinion, expertise, knowledge and contacts to support the work of the employees of the Society.

You do not need a background in architecture or planning (in fact, we would welcome interest from such non-professionals, but we are also keen to hear from professionals), but you should be interested in the work of the Society and in the development of London. We would be particularly keen to hear from anyone with a background in marketing or PR, fundraising, writing or editing.

There are generally six committee meetings a year, which take a couple of hours on a Monday evening, so being a Trustee does not require a huge commitment in terms of time.

If you are interested in finding out more, please email the Director who will be delighted to send further information.

 

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Peter Murray

 

This year the London Society has arranged a series of members-only visits to see behind the scenes at some of the capital’s most innovative architectural, design and engineering practices, and to hear the principals talk about the history and the vision of their businesses.

Last month we were the guests of Bob Allies of Allies and Morrison. Barry Coidan reports.

It’s not often you win an architectural competition by having no kids in the drawing, but Bob Allies believes that was why he and Graham Morrison won the open competition to design a new public landscape at the Mound in Edinburgh in 1983. They began working together in the evenings but after this success they formed the partnership the following year.

The design was deliberately austere – not to detract from the landscape of the site and the two public building that dominate it. The design used local sandstone – traditional material in a traditional way. Only fragments of the original scheme now remain.

By the 1990s, the UK was in the midst of a serious economic recession, yet plans for a new Embassy in Dublin went ahead despite government cut backs. Winning the design competition for the Embassy was Allies and Morrison (A&M)’s big break. The design was presented as a hand line drawing – before computer assisted design – an approach which the practice became known for, along with scale models which are an important means the practice uses to communicate its design ideas. An early example of which was the model for the new Abbey Mills Pumping station in east London. The original pump house was designed by Joseph Bazalgette in the 1860s. These public commissions got the practice going, allowing it to weather the 1990’s recession.

Following these early successes, Bob then gave us a taste of some of the work Allies and Morrison has carried out over the years.

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