AoU Journal #1
The Academy of Urbanism70 Cowcross StreetLondonECM 6EJinfo@academyofurbanism.org.uk T: +44 (0)20 725 8777
Our new publication,
The AoU Journal,
providesa vehicle for Academicians to discuss current issues inurbanism, share insights, challengeassumptions and stimulatedebate. Each of the topics in thispublication will continue to beexplored online through our
A collaborative enterprise
The simple answer is that we do not advocate any singular form or size of urbanism, partly because it is the wrong question. The Academy was founded on theprinciple of distilling the lessons from great places atdifferent scales. What we have learned from studyingnearly 00 locations is that good urbanism is culturally
and climatically specic. Yes, key spatial ideas can be
exported, from Derry to North America or Holland toGothenburg. But whether they take root depends onpeople and institutions, and practical utility over time.The question belies a predilection towards urban form,usually by spatial designers with a leaning towardsenvironmental determinism. There is no doubt thata legacy of good urban components, whether from the Romans, Georgians or Victorians, can providecharacterful ingredients of value.Some of the deeper lessons of good urbanism comenot from overt form however, but from subtler layersof complexity and contradiction; and a fundamentaladaptability that nurtures changing ventures,accommodates diversity and even contrasting opposites.(We have come across the re-use of industrialLacemarket buildings as a university in Nottingham, temporary ‘pop-up’ evening uses in historic Budapest,and places transformed into people hubs by creative transport projects in Brighton and Bordeaux.)It is the ability to be crucible for a variety of economicand social enterprise that seems to distinguish really successful places. Robert Davis, the founder developer of Seaside in Florida, told me recently that the ability to nurture new enterprises, and to enhance the rangeof retail and market ventures, was a key ingredient of
a town’s vitality. That is not to say form is supercial
or irrelevant, just that it is not the whole story. Better places tend to be more tolerant of a diversity of peopleand backgrounds, making people feel comfortable andproviding them with positive stimuli for creativity andcollaboration. Creative collaboration is essential to theart of shaping and managing the city.So the goal of good urbanism may be less about seeking
some idealised form, and more one of nding ways to
realise these diverse wants and needs. Great places that endure, do so because they enable people to live
connected, fullling lives alongside each other. Good
urbanists are therefore charged with liberating the paths to this aspiration, and the Academy will be debating andupdating this mission over the coming months.I hope to see you at the Congress in Derry – in themeantime please join our debates online.
I am sometimes asked what kind of urbanismthe Academy advocates. Are we modernist, post-modernist, enlightenment rationalist, baroqueor even medieval organic in our leanings? Are we top-down corporatists or bottom-up localists? What is our view on James Craig and Haussman, Corband Jane Jacobs, the New Urbanists and the Prince? And do we support Richard Rogers’ recent reassertion of thecompact city model?
Prof Kevin Murray AoU
Director, Kevin Murray AssociatesChairman, The Academy of Urbanism
Kevin Murray Sarah ChaplinDavid RudlinProf Chris Balch Mary KerriganProf David Porter Prof Brian Evans Jon RowlandsStephanie MillsDr Richard Simmons
A collaborative enterprise
Where now for urbanism?
Four recessions & a pottery
AoU European City
Lisbon: The winning formula
The Resilient City
The Rewards of the Awards
Glasgow - all signed up?
The Academy of Suburbanism?
Spirit in Motion
Board & Academicians Getting InvolvedEvents Calendar
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