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Peter Murray

 

In this article from issue 473 of the Journal of the London Society, Sarah Yates looks at the legacy of the 1851 Great Exhibition

‘… we should ensure that the Great Exhibition of 1851 should not become a transitory event of mere temporary interest, but that its objects would be perpetuated, that the different industrial pursuits of mankind, Arts and Sciences should not again relapse into a state of comparative isolation from each other, in which their progress is necessarily retarded …’ Observations on the Application of the Surplus of the Exhibition of 1851 by His Royal Highness the Prince Consort, August 1851

The Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851

 

‘Innovation’ has become the watchword of the global economy in the 21st century. While cities have always been places where people gather to discuss and debate ideas, the production of new knowledge – and from it, novel products, services and technologies – can give a city competitive advantage in this age of automation, disruptive technologies and global communication. Fundamental transformations in the way that we work, live and learn have started to lead to greater interdisciplinary collaboration, and physical location and proximity to other like-minded people have become ever more important in order to support the spontaneous personal interactions, sharing of ideas and inspiration that lead to advances in knowledge. From this has developed the idea of the urban ‘innovation district’: places where universities and research centres cluster, along with cultural and scientific organisations and enterprises large and small; designed to attract the most talented and highly skilled, and with a well-designed and diverse urban environment with high-quality public realm to promote open working and collaboration. New innovation districts are emerging across the capital – from the Knowledge Quarter at King’s Cross to the Cultural and Education District planned for the regeneration of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

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Peter Murray

 

Cook’s Camden: The Making of Modern Housing

By Mark Swenarton (Lund Humphries, £45)

Reviewed by Jonathan Manns

Reviewed in the Journal of the London Society no. 473

Cook’s Camden is a comprehensive, inviting and ultimately appreciative work of scholarship on the borough’s council house building programme from 1965-1973. Well evidenced and attractively designed, it concisely assesses both aspiration and delivery through the lens of those who shaped the programme. In doing so, it simultaneously functions as an introduction, reference and guide.

The book takes its name from Sydney Cook, Camden Borough Architect from 1965 to 1973, who oversaw a period of expansive and progressive public-sector building which pushed the boundaries of design. In 1965 the newly formed Borough of Camden was the richest in London and had a clear left-wing leaning: housing was an expression of its power and politics. A new policy of ‘municipalisation’ (buying existing properties) rather than construction was then introduced in 1973, which marked the beginning of the end; even the architects’ department disbanded in the 1980s amid a backlash against such projects, fuelled by cost overruns and the recessions of the 1970s.

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Peter Murray

 

In another article from the latest issue of the Journal of the London Society, Emily Gee, London Planning Director at Historic England, argues that history provides the roots for great places.

It is a principle of good urban design that before pencil reaches tracing paper, a designer needs a thorough understanding of the history and significance of the place. Great contextual development responds to history and our most successful places have history at their heart. Gillian Tindall’s seminal urban history, The Fields Beneath, continuously in print now for over 40 years, takes one London village – Kentish Town – and applies a thoughtful historical lens to encourage a rich and deep understanding of urban layers. This approach can happen in any place, and knowing that former field boundaries, rivers and earlier settlement patterns have influenced modern routes, street names and architectural design can enrich a development and the lives of people there now.

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Peter Murray

 

We’re pleased to say that the Journal is now available to be read online via issuu.com. You should be able to see it below – if not, click here to go to the site

You are, of course, much better off with the traditional printed copy of the Journal, and there are two ways to get your hands on one.

The best way is to become a member of the Society, which you can do by visiting this page. Not only will we send you a copy in the post, but you will also get priority booking and discounted tickets for all of our events.

Or you can buy a copy for just £7.50 via our online shop. Just click here.

 

 

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Peter Murray

 

The Autumn Winter 2017 edition of the Journal of the London Society is dropping on doormats throughout the capital, and is also available to be bought from the Society for just £7.50 (details here).

New members will receive the Journal free – you can join here.

Editor Jessica Cargill Thompson shares the delights of the new edition.

Ten million. One-zero. That’s how many of us Londoners there’ll be by 2030 – just 12 years’ time. According to figures from the GLA and O ce of National Statistics, we currently number 8.9million, and it’s predicted we’ll pass the 9 million mark some time in 2019.

In relation to other world cities, London thinks of itself as a relatively small city: giant in stature but human in its physical scale. We’re not the neverending urban expanses of Toyko/Yokohama (33 million); the skyscraping canyons of New York; the apartment dwellers of other European capitals; or the squeezed masses of Mumbai (density 23.9 people per sq km compared to London’s 5.1), much as we may admire all of those places. We are traditionally low rise and low density, with a surprising amount of green space. We value culture as much as we value commerce, and pride ourselves on being a place of both hi-tech innovation and ancient monuments. The seemingly unstoppable rush towards 10 million understandably induces palpitations.

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Peter Murray

 

We are looking for stories and contributions for the next issue of the London Society’s Journal.

We also need someone with print production experience to volunteer as a subeditor. This would require carefully fact-checking, editing and styling the copy as it comes in (spread out over end of September and early October).

In particular we will be exploring the theme of:

‘A city for 10 million inhabitants’

We would like to interpret this theme quite broadly and look at the different aspects of London life that are affected by a booming population – not just planning or housing.

We would like to hear about any organisations, thinkers, professionals, community groups etc working on projects – small scale or large – that offer inspiration.

Types of pieces we run:

  • 500 word opinion pieces
  • short case studies of relevant interesting projects by architects, urbanists, artists, academics, community groups,
  • 1,000 word think pieces and reports
  • personal profiles/interviews
  • photography, illustration, graphic data visualisation

Deadlines: Once commissioned, we will need pieces to be written by the end of September in order to have enough time for design & layout.

Sadly we are unable to pay anyone for their contributions, but will happily plug any websites, blogs, recent publications, upcoming events, etc in exchange. And of course you will not only be helping to make the Journal even better, but contributing to informed ongoing debate amongst London Society members and beyond.

If you’d like to contribute, or want to let us know about any projects you think might be worth us covering, do get in touch at info@londonsociety.org.uk

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Peter Murray

 

The Spring/Summer edition of the Journal of the London Society is now available.

Non-members can get a free copy by joining the Society (details here) or buy a copy here.

This issue marks 50 years since the 1967 Civic Amenities Act created the first official ‘conservation areas’ as a way of acknowledging the overall character of an area, rather than the merits of individual buildings. There are now more than 1,000 conservation areas in London alone, ranging from elegant Georgian squares and Art Deco housing estates, to places valued more for their community than their architecture, such as the Walworth Road.

London certainly has much worth cherishing – physically and culturally – but we cannot preserve the urban in aspic. Cities are living breathing organisms, they must grow, adapt and evolve. So how do we marry the concept of conservation with the need for continual change? Who chooses what stays and what goes, and according to what criteria? How do we use the best of the past and present to create a meaningful future? The Journal therefore both celebrates some of London’s most attractive conservation areas and hard-fought battles with the bulldozer, but interrogates the concept of conservation itself.

 

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Peter Murray

 

The latest edition (number 471) of the Journal of the London Society goes to print this week and will be posted out to members within the next fortnight.

If you want to receive your copy, join the Society today. Individual memberships are just £25, students pay just £15 and there are special rates for dual/family memberships and for businesses.

There’s a ‘conservation’ theme to Journal 471, with Peter Murray’s interview with Marcus Binney, founder of SAVE; our guide to eight of the best Conservation Areas; Frank Kelsall reflects on 50 years of the Civic Amenities Act; Tom Coward & Geoff Shearcroft of AOC Architecture explain why historic buildings should be brought back into the community; Emily Gee of Historic England calls for a new heritage strategy; Heather Cheesebrough says that conservation areas are over-zealously policed.

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