Save the Date: Shaping our Cities for the Future – conference 31 Jan – 2 Feb 2018

The third Open House Worldwide conference from 31 January to 2 February 2018 will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first Open House architectural festival in its birthplace, London.

With leading and world-renowned speakers from the fields of policy, governance, design and technology, among others, the conference will bring together international member city representatives, cultural agencies, built environment professionals and researchers to explore the key issues facing cities today. The overall theme will be how to explore new ways to build better public participation in planning, design and regeneration – and the place of Open House as a unique means of giving people a voice to shape the future of their cities. Speakers to include: Maria Vassilakou Vice-Mayor Vienna, Malcolm Middleton, Chief Architect, Brisbane City, Dr Sarah Hall, LSE, Dan Hill, Arup and David Burney, Centre for Active Design.

See : OHWW save the date conference announcement

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The Autumn Season Kicks off

In 2010, six cities joined Open House Worldwide. Today, 36 cities around the world have adopted the unique but simple concept of Open House. Over 3/4 million people get out into their cities and visit over 4000 buildings with some 1000 architects explaining the design of buildings.

The new ‘kid on the block’ in September is Open House Bilbao from 23rd-24th September whilst Open House New York celebrates its 15th anniversary and Open House London, the first Open House  celebrates its 25 years since being founded by Victoria Thornton.

See the attached press release with all the 19 cities’ dates up until end of November.

AutumnSeason2017 3

Further details available from  Christina on info@openhouseworldwide.org

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Open House Worldwide Conference Programme 31st Jan – 3rd February 2018

Take a few minutes to read through and come back to us with your thoughts, suggestions, speakers and anything else you want to share.

36 Open House cities will be coming together – a gathering of the ‘clan’ to share experiences, knowledge and tips!

OHWW conference OUTLINEExternal

 

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‘Open House Worldwide’ Impact Study Presentation’

OHWW CurrentImpactPresentation2017

The launching of Open House Santiago, Chile and San Diego, USA provided a great oportunity to test out the Impact Study and obtain responses from the many stakeholders present.  Her is the powerpoint in a PDF format although as this was in conjuntion with a verbal presentiaton, one can’t get all the nuances, but hope you get the gist of it.

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More than just buildings – Open House Impact Study

OHWW Impact Study 2017 External_Final

Stepping down as Director of Open-City  this year, but continuing as Founder, was the opportunity for me to have some much-needed space and time to reflect on the extraordinary growth and popularity of the Open House concept and more importantly what were the ingredients for its success. Open House London – the original event which now reaches 250,000 people every year in the capital – celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2017, but over the last two decades many individuals and organisations in other cities worldwide have approached me to find out how they can develop and implement the Open House concept in their own cities. As a result, Open House now take place every year in 32 cities* on five continents, with three quarters of a million people participating. Each event is developed by its local community, but the Open House cities – now within the ‘family’ known as Open House Worldwide – share one core common principle: inviting everyone to experience architecture for free and by doing so enabling them to become better informed and champion better design for their cities.

Why has the enthusiasm for this model of public engagement become so widespread and why is it so easily translated across countries and cultures? .

In the age of global urbanisation –when more people live in cities than ever before – there is ever-greater awareness of how the built environment impacts on our daily lives, and the need to support sustainability, liveability and wellbeing is common to every city, no matter its location.

A new impact study has been produced with the aim of showing how the ‘Open House’ concept has been developed and examining how and why it has been so successful around the world.  The Open House concept no doubt enables people to engage with the built environment on their own terms,  one key reason being is that Open House does not rely on specialist knowledge or indeed language – it is open to all, free and democratic and – well before the emergence of what we now call the ‘sharing economy’ – it is also collaborative and inclusive, crossing boundaries and cultural divides.  In addition by providing an independent platform – but one with significant private and public sector support from a wide range of disciplines including planning and infrastructure as well as architecture – it has become a powerful conduit to influence policy and decision-making about the built environment.

For example Jules Pipe, the Deputy Mayor of London asked how under-represented groups can have a greater stake in shaping London’s future, and remarked that Open House has a “set a benchmark for engaging people of different ages and socio-economic backgrounds in architecture and regeneration of London … work like this will be fundamental to encouraging diversity in the built environment industry, but also in supporting young people to be the decision makers of tomorrow and have a greater stake in the future of their City”

But what makes it work? Behind every Open House programme is the idea that direct experience leads to engagement, empowerment and advocacy. Physical experience of inspiring examples allows people the opportunity to explore how architecture, landscape, public realm and infrastructure actually work in real time, and focusing on high-quality design opens people’s eyes and minds to the ‘art of the possible’. Face-to-face, unmediated interactions with volunteers and professionals on hand to explain the ideas and development of their projects encourage dialogue and questioning on site, showing a building or space in context and how it relates to the wider city; this is also extended through debates, talks and other satellite events.

And so by being better informed, people feel empowered to participate more, and are better placed to influence policy decisions, to advocate for better design, and to take a more active interest and role in how their city is shaped.
Watch this space as the Open House Impact Study develops but also let me know if you have examples you want to relate directly connected to Open House or studies that reinforce our belief in this model of public engagement as would be good to share with everyone!

*London, New York, Dublin, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Helsinki, Oslo, Melbourne, Barcelona, Brisbane, Slovenia, Chicago, Rome, Lisbon, Perth, Thessaloniki, Limerick, Gdynia, Buenos Aires, Vienna, Athens, Monterrey, Cork, Vilnius, Prague, Madrid, Belfast, Porto, Lagos, Milan, Zurich and Stockholm

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Architecture in Schools: what are the next steps?

open-city.org.uk/education/index.html
engagingplaces.org.uk

#farrellreview #education #schools
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The recommendations of the Farrell Review published today present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to place architecture and the built environment at the heart of teaching in primary and secondary schools in England. These could be implemented as early as September 2014, helping teachers to deliver the new National Curriculum, promoting regional and national opportunities to engage with architecture and the built environment, and setting the agenda for how we engage with PLACE in the context of formal education.

Education was one of the four main areas looked at in the Review which has reported to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and will inform policy decisions at the Department of Education (DfE).

Learning through the architecture, urban design and open spaces of our towns and cities is a familiar topic in many schools, which have benefited over the past decade and more from the architecture education work of the regional architecture and built environment centres, including Open-City’s Architecture in Schools programme for primary and secondary schools that has reached more than 30,000 young people.

This in turn has led to the development of innovative resources and training modules – in partnership with organisations such as the GLA and London Grid for Learning – that have opened up new ways of teaching and learning. Building on the success of recent years, on strong teacher partnerships and with the backing of the Farrell Review, we want to strengthen the use of architecture and built environment learning in schools across England.

The new National Curriculum for Schools in England

The new National Curriculum Framework will set out the statutory requirements for teaching and learning as well as assessment procedures that schools need to follow. For many teachers this is a time when they will focus on the impact of changes to content and assessment in their own subject area. This will be one of the challenges we face. The Farrell Review comes out a time of curriculum change, but also one when teachers are less receptive to additional influence.

Education reform: where are we and what does the future hold?

Our schools have changed a lot in the past ten years, shaped by past and present education reforms. We now have primary and secondary maintained schools, as well as a growing number of academies and free schools. This means that schools have more freedom to choose what they teach, with the non maintained ones exempt from teaching the new National Curriculum.

The government’s education reform agenda is aimed at raising standards in schools. A revised national curriculum, new qualifications and a new schools accountability structure are the main components of this reform. For the Farrell Review one of the most significant subject changes is to design technology, so that for the first time there are real opportunities for children to aspire to be the next generation of engineers and designers.

PLACE in the context of formal education

Schools are familiar with the importance of PLACE and would welcome the definition proposed under the Farrell Review. Engagement with Building Schools for the Future helped schools to understand landscape, planning and architecture, as has school participation in government backed initiatives such as Learning Outside the Classroom. The Engaging Places online portal, and the work of regional architecture centres and indeed that of Open-City means that growing numbers of schools understand and will be ready to embrace the idea of PLACE in the context of formal education and learning.

From the establishing of a National Architecture Competition and the holding of PLACE reviews, to the promotion of the Engaging Places portal and other teacher development support such as accrediting Continuing Professional Development, the Farrell Review recommendations will position architecture and the built environment as central in our education system. They will offer teachers the right level of support, but also inspire them at a time of curriculum change to explore for themselves the architecture of our towns and cities and to place learning in the context of the National Curriculum Framework for England.

The Farrell Review and teacher training

If successfully implemented the recommendations of the Review will inform the way teachers are trained and use architecture and the built environment in their teaching of each of the core curriculum subjects.

What makes the Farrell Review so exciting for the teaching profession is that for the first time an independent Review of this kind has looked in so much detail at learning in primary and secondary school settings and has come forward with recommendations that can really make a difference.

STEM Learning and the Farrell Review

We know there is a skill shortage in the UK’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) sectors and the Farrell Review can help to address this. In the next five years the changes to education qualifications will be a positive move, in particular changes to design and technology teaching. At the moment one problem contributing to the skills gap for STEM careers is a lack of understanding among teachers and children about the options for jobs and careers in architecture and the built environment professions. A crucial next step will be to explore the major opportunity to align Design more closely with STEM in order to enhance creative and critical problem-solving skills in the next generation.

Schools have a statutory duty to provide independent and impartial careers guidance

The Education Act 2011 has placed schools under a duty to secure independent and impartial careers guidance for children and young people from Year 11 until Year 13. The Farrell Review can build on this new statutory guidance by making sure that as many schools and their leadership teams as possible are aware of the career opportunities for young people, so that more of them have the knowledge and skills to choose to aim for jobs in the PLACE sectors.

Looking forwards

The introduction of the new National Curriculum in September 2014 and the publication of the Farrell Review recommendations offer a great opportunity to start an exciting new phase in education, to inspire our young people and to enhance their skills, confidence and motivation through opening their eyes and minds to the built environment around them. At Open-City we look forward to being part of this new chapter in our nation’s education.

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Women in architecture: what is the way forward?

As a judge of the recent Architects’ Journal 2014 Women in Architecture awards I was of course delighted to see the achievements of so many inspirational women architects being celebrated and at last acknowledged at the Awards luncheon at the Langham Hotel last Friday.

But, the awards aside, what, as many observers have pointed out, is there to celebrate about women’s status in the architectural profession? Only about a fifth of practising architects in the UK are women, and even fewer are directors or partners.

The outcome of the AJ’s annual Women in Architecture survey this year represents a quite depressing picture – and, interestingly, more than 200 of those who filled it in were men. Two thirds of the women who answered say that they have suffered sexual discrimination, 11% once a week or more. And though women architects believed they receive equal pay to men, AJ’s research showed that they can in fact earn as much as £10,000 a year less. Again, two thirds believed that the building industry has not fully accepted the authority of the female architect.

In an age where gender equality is supposedly a given, this shows the scale of the challenge that still remains in the architectural profession, and indeed in many others. How can we respond? At the AJ Awards event, Patty Hopkins made the comment that ‘the role of an architect is so diverse. It can mean so many different things – working on projects with vast differences of scale, working in a big team for a big practice on big jobs, working for self or small office on small jobs … Perhaps the answer is in this diversity. There are roles for all.’

Currently our way of telling the story of architecture is to tell the story of individuals – and naturally because of this the focus remains on those male architects who have become world-renowned figures (yes, there is Zaha Hadid – but incredibly, she has only received this status over the last few years). There are of course other women too, but nowhere near enough. Perhaps what is needed is a greater focus on the variety of roles within the profession and the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Then we may see the contribution of women throughout the profession getting greater recognition, which may go some way further to closing the gap that still so obviously exists.

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People, Place and the Planning Process

As part of its centenary year celebrations in 2014 the Royal Town Planning Institute in London has just published ‘Kaleidoscope City:  Reflections on Planning and London’, a critical collection of essays exploring the past, present and future of planning in the capital.I was asked to contribute an essay to this on ‘Looking Further: Developing a Wider Understanding of the Built Environment’. This provided an opportunity to reflect again on the relationship between the planning process, professionals and the communities they serve.

Today the right of the wider community to be consulted on development proposals has become embedded in law and emboldened in practice. Communities also now have more power to shape local planning policies, in theory at least, because of the legal framework for neighbourhood representation.

Yet there’s still a long way to go to ensure that there is long-term engagement, participation and dialogue. Unfortunately much of the day-to-day contact between planning professionals and the public is still principally through formal legal notices – perhaps out of necessity but a sad situation nonetheless. Indeed, as someone told Open-City  despondently, ‘I am not sure I even know about any new development in the area, let alone how to find out more about it. How would one know?’

Comments like this made me think again about exactly why Open House London has remained so successful over the past 20-plus years: you could say it’s simply a way for professionals and the public to meet informally and discuss and debate ideas, in a way that they can’t really do anywhere else. It gives everyone – whatever their interest and level of knowledge about architecture and planning – a space to think about what ‘good design’ really is and what they want for their local area. Seeing is believing.

If we are going to create vibrant cities we need to absorb and appreciate the messy contradictions of how people relate to the built environment on a day to day level. This is why free and democratic public engagement in planning remains so vitally important today.

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Where do you make the most effort to be sustainable, at work or at home?

Sustainability in its widest sense remains one of the key issues that concern the design of our urban built environment, yet, fundamentally, ‘good design’ and ‘sustainable design’ should be the same thing. ‘Sustainability’ in its widest sense is not only concerned with lowering consumption and reducing environmental impacts through materials, processes and technologies – the ‘ecobling’ – but in addressing social and economic concerns.
Despite the rapid growth of mobile and home working, most of the working population still uses an office. But creating a truly sustainable workplace is still a challenge that developers, designers and employers are continuing to grapple with.

The vast scale of this challenge that remains in creating truly ‘sustainable’ workplaces was borne out by answers to the question ‘Where do you make the most effort to be sustainable, at work or at home?’, part of our regular surveys at Open-City on polling the public for their opinions about the built environment. Of the 300 responses to this question, almost all (92%) said ‘home’ rather than ‘work’.

So what could the reasons for this be? One strong factor evident in the responses was ‘control’, even at a basic level, e.g. ‘The power is in my hands at home. Too much is centrally controlled at work so I can’t turn out the lights in my office’, ‘fewer limitations so I can recycle and reuse as fits me …’, ‘easier to control [at home] what is recycled vs sent to landfill, and easier to control energy consumption by using energy efficient electronics and practices …’

Open-City’s Green Sky Thinking Week programme, which we have just launched for 2014, tries to tackle this complex problem head on. The programme has enjoyed a long-term partnership with the British Council for Offices, and they and many of the professionals and organisations involved in Green Sky Thinking will be continuing to explore and debate how to deliver successful solutions to well-being, staff retention and allowing the employee or office-user to optimise the use of his or her space.

From the employer’s point of view, of course, productivity is directly related to sustainably (and therefore well) designed buildings and interiors: property is only one of the main costs to a business – the other is people. We need to ensure that investment in the user – by effectively engaging them throughout the process of planning, design, construction and operation – is always at the forefront of workplace design, as it is this that will then ultimately lead to sustained business growth, and a truly sustainable working environment.

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Who will fight for good design?

Where is the “Jamie Oliver” who can make architecture a big public issue?’ was a question posed in The Independent and Building Magazine connected to the forthcoming Farrell Review. Architecture is somewhat of a more complex picture than removing fast food and unhealthy ‘turkey twizzlers’ from school menus, but it’s indeed true to say that we have no charismatic champion for design quality in our cities.

We can’t say that there is always a lack of awareness of the value of good design among the public. Architecture has actually entered the public consciousness to a greater extent than one thinks – last year the Stirling Prize, for example, was covered by the BBC for the first time. Having seen how in recent decades high-quality regeneration projects have transformed the lifeblood of their cities, people are demanding more from architects and planners. The problem lies in the apparent disconnect between those who plan, design and construct a building and those who go on to use it every day: where a building doesn’t work for its users, quite often the blame is unnecessarily pinned on the architecture profession, seen as too remote and out of touch with ‘ordinary’ people.

How can we dispel the myths on both sides and create better communication? At the very least we need architects respected both inside and outside the profession who are able to be really articulate to speak out publicly against poor design.  It is heartening to see that Richard Rogers recently lambasted the quality of the Crossrail stations proposed for outer London, because, as he says, “these are important public buildings which millions will travel through … [poor design] could scar a community that uses a station for a century or so”.

Yet who else can articulate the value of good design in a way that speaks meaningfully to the public at large? If we are to match Jamie Oliver’s influence on the public, we must do for architecture what he so famously did for nutrition, and campaign for it to be introduced into schools. What we need is a number of advocates from across built environment professions to inspire future generations and ultimately strengthen architecture’s place in the public consciousness.

 

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The Independent Review of Cultural Education in England

When an independent review into Cultural Education was announced in 2011 it looked promising for the architecture and built environment sector. The inclusion of the subject as one of the defined areas that make up Cultural Education was met with great enthusiasm, both by teachers and by the wider built environment profession.

Over the past decade there has been a real and measurable shift in the way young people learn through architecture and the built environment.  This has been a result of welcome strategic developments in education policy, favouring a move towards the wider curriculum and learning beyond the classroom. It has also been a result of the excellent work that architecture centres have done to work progressively, with a focus on delivery.

Many of the recommendations of the Cultural Education in England report, such as the Cultural Education Passport, and the commitment to training teachers and the new qualifications for cultural practitioners are to be applauded. But to leave architecture and the built environment out of such a pivotal strategic push in our education system is to ignore the current momentum and to sideline a cultural form that is as vital to our cultural and creative industries as any other.

There have been so many positive developments that we should not lose sight of. Teachers now want to take young people out of the classroom and to experience the living architecture of our towns and cities; there is now a place in our primary and secondary programmes of study to learn about architecture in science and maths, as well as cross curricular themes and priorities. We know that teachers want young people to learn about how buildings are designed and made, how town planning shapes communities, as well as how the great structures of contemporary architecture and engineering can be understood in the context of the school curriculum or an out of school cultural experience.

Learning through the built environment is also about learning to value our public spaces. From the Sheffield Peace Gardens to the Eden Project we have some of the finest examples of public space in Europe. Young people have access to great examples of civic spaces as well, to the architecture that shaped our industrial past, to bridges, and to exemplar transport environments.  We can use these to teach a broad cultural education, as well as to inspire the people who will live in and build the England of the future.

In setting out the cultural education landscape at the beginning of his report Henley includes architects in the list of practitioners working with our top performing schools. There are great programmes we can cite to back this up. In London, Open-City has, over the past 10 years, been delivering a highly successful Architecture in Schools programme for primary and secondary. More than 30,000 pupils have participated and we have support from fantastic architects. Activities such as this one and many more that take place in our classrooms across England every day have helped to shape the way young people learn through the built environment.

There has been criticism this week of Gove’s list of 30 buildings young people should see. The intention here is a good one, but even if understanding the historical contexts of our built landscape is the primary aim it makes no sense to leave so many excellent examples of modern architecture and of contemporary urban design off the list. We can be sure that if we asked a group of young people to make their own list that they would include buildings from the past, as well as those built in and before their lifetime.

Henley states that a rounded Cultural Education should have space to include newer art-forms which have yet to pass the test of time. There is nothing wrong with this. It is a surprise though that a cultural form that can be seen not only to encompass art, science and technology, and moreover one that has stood the test of time and will continue to innovate, has been squarely left of the list.

We risk losing all that we have achieved in advocating for and showing how learning can be enriched by engaging with the built environment.  No one would argue that the pledge to open up the heritage environment and show how it shaped the past of our towns, cities and people is not a welcome one.  But how far can we really engage young people with the buildings and spaces around them if we confine what they learn to structures we define as heritage? All contemporary built environments are a mixture of old, new and the in progress. We could take any city or any town in England to illustrate this point. In Manchester a young person can see the great Victorian buildings that drove the industrial revolution; in Bristol they can trace the history of the slave trade through the cities buildings and waterways. But in both these cities they can also see examples of modern architecture, of innovative planning in housing and commercial developments and of cities that evolve. Learning about the whole built environment means learning about our existing culture and places – not about something alien to us outside our culture – and is vital if we are to teach the skills, knowledge and understanding that Henley advocates in his report.

Henley highlights the expert panel for the National Curriculum Review published by DfE in 2011. One of the key recommendations of this review was a commitment to looking to international curricular and learning from the very best in other European regions.

Across the European regions architecture and the built environment are core and flourishing areas in countries where they have a Cultural Education strategy or offer.

Excluding architecture and the built environment from the Cultural Education strategy could well lead to the sector being excluded from the education reform agenda. This would be a loss, not only to the sector, which is so vital to our creative industries, but to the future of our children and young people.

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Localism – what is the ‘community’?

The new Localism Bill intends to put the community at the heart of the planning system, but what constitutes the ‘community’ needs to be more clearly defined. In a city so diverse as London, no two neighbourhoods are the same and not everyone has equal resources, funds or skills to make sure that whatever they approve in the new system delivers a better-quality built environment for all who live and work here (whatever ‘community’ they consider they belong to).

If power is devolved to the people most affected by change, then it’s vital to ensure that all voices are heard. To increase neighbourhood responsibility over planning decisions without providing the means or opportunities for everyone to understand and meet those obligations could create a two-tier planning system. This could lead to even stronger divisions between those that are affluent and engaged, and those that are disadvantaged and disengaged.

Most importantly, if the ‘community’ includes only those who are able to vote, as I suspect it might, then this will only disenfranchise even more the younger generation. We know from our ongoing Open-City campaigns with young people under 18 that they feel strongly that they don’t have a say in taking decisions about how the city is shaped now – but that they will be the ones who have to live with the consequences in the future. Young people must be fully involved in decision-making on planning if they are going to value, respect and take ownership of the spaces and places around them.

We need long-term investment to give every citizen, young or old, the opportunity to build up the expertise, skills and knowledge to be fully informed and engaged in articulating the vision for their local area – and ultimately, to make a better city for everyone.

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Why do we need good design?

The way we plan, design and build our cities can transform our lives for the better in many ways: good architecture can capture our imagination, change the way we relate to our neighbours and fellow Londoners, create new employment and revitalise neglected areas, and improve our health and well-being. The impact of good design is a more attractive environment, stronger communities with a sense of ownership and pride in their local area, and new financial investment.

But … architecture is not a subject taught in the formal education system. From school to later life, we often have no formal way of learning how to express our ideas, needs and aspirations for the quality of the buildings and public spaces in which we live, work, play and learn. Open-City believes everyone should have the opportunity to articulate their views and concerns by having the right tools and language.

Victoria Thornton

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Protected: Venice and The Open House Manifesto!

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Protected: Venice Biennale 2018 & Open House Submission

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