Public spaces and Sacred Cows: design, designers and public space production in London
Many voices lament over the ‘privatisation of public space’, and the collapse of the public realm. The majority of these voices are not from the domain of design, but from geography, social and political science and the general media. In fact urban discourse is noisy with everyone but those who actually deliver the material city. This talk will challenge entrenched perceptions about the definition and state of public space in London, from a historical as well as contemporary perspective, as part of a project to recover the importance of the architect in the production of public spaces. What does ‘public’ mean? Who and what are public spaces for? What constitutes a ‘successful’ public space? How does design aid or obstruct the ‘success' of public spaces? What is the relationship between contestation and play in public spaces? Can/should the designer be an agent of change in the functioning of public spaces? Is there any relationship between increasing citizen participation in the design of public spaces and increasing the quality of those spaces? All this and more will be asked, if not definitively answered in this work in progress.
Biography: Professor Susannah Hagan is Professor of Architectural Research in the School of Architecture, developing research projects and seeking funding for staff research and expansion of the PhD programme. She is also the founding Director of R_E_D (Research into Environment + Design), a London-based research consultancy with a European membership that addresses all scales of environmental design, from low cost/low energy prefab housing to environmentally led urban design. Trained as an architect, her academic work addresses the cultural implications of ecological urbanism and the role of design and architects in the production of public spaces.