I’d like to say what an honour it is to be the new Chair of the Academy of Urbanism. As an engineer and a transport planner I feel that I probably embody one of the Academy’s greatest values which is that it is a very broad church; there is room in this family for planners, architects, economists, artists and many more disciplines, all of us striving to create better places and healthier (in every respect) communities.
It was good to catch up with so many members at our winter social event in our Cowcross Street office last night and talk about our exciting plans for this year. They include:
Our John Thompson memorial lecture on 13th February, at Cambridge University’s School of Architecture. We’re very much looking forward to hearing Sadie Morgan talk about her experience in community architecture and design advocacy. That evening, we’ll also be announcing a collaboration with Conran & Partners for the London Festival of Architecture.
Further to the success of our Galway Charter event last year, we’ll return to that beautiful Irish city for a follow-up event on the 29-30 May. In Scotland there’ll be the chance for our Edinburgh members to attend an Urbanism Quiz in the spring and, we’ll be in Glasgow for a one-day conference in the autumn. Heading south, we will hold a one-day “Quality of Life” conference in Manchester in the autumn. There has been strong interest in this from the City Council, TfN, universities, private sector developers and many consultants, and we are excited about the role of Urbanism with our colleagues in the north of the country.-
Aside from face-to-face events, our Journal continues to provide thought-provoking articles along with life-enhancing art and personal insights about much-loved places. Henceforth it will be presented as a digital publication and I hope you’ll enjoy the new format.
Our weekly online Urbanism Hours, held almost monthly on a Friday, go from strength to strength, and we have some inspirational speakers waiting in the wings. Next up are Henk Bouwman with Laura Shoaf CBE looking at how metropolitan and regional areas are tackling big challenges at scale (23 February). Exceptionally, this session will be free for non-members (thanks to the support of Metrex) so take the opportunity to see how good these are if you’re not yet a member.
We have already opened our nominations for this year’s Urbanism Awards and I’m keen to participate in as many assessment visits this year as I can. They are a great way to keep up-to-date with some exceptional placemaking initiatives. Make sure to read our weekly broadcasts to see how you can be involved.
Our Academicians are keen to assist with great placemaking and following our successful work for Cork City Council we are aiming to do three more diagnostic visits this year with Kildare Council having already confirmed their interest in benefitting from our expertise. We are also aiming to increase our influence and have consequently set up a Policy Unit.
Finally, our Young Urbanists continue to flourish with learning and networking events as well as their cycle trip. Last year’s ride from Ljubljana to Trieste was extremely popular and there will soon be an exciting announcement about this year’s destination. Our YUs and Academicians come together on our annual mentoring scheme which is always heavily subscribed. We have also embarked on an initiative to take the Academy to as many universities as we can, so do let me know if you have any suggestions on that endeavour.
In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you at our in-person events and hearing about your ideas and experiences in our world of urbanism. If you missed our winter social last night, keep an eye out for details of our summer social, and I hope to catch up with you there if not at one of our earlier events. If you wish to know further details on any of these activities, please contact me on [email protected]
With best wishes
Chair, Academy of Urbanism