It was suggested that this four day urban design summer school could be an interesting way to extend my skills in urban design, and of getting further experience of working with professionals and practitioners from across the built environment sector.
The programme included walking seminars, site visits, skills workshops and key-note presentations from leading practitioners.
At the core of the summer school was the Big Design Project. In a team of four, together with a principle planning officer, a member of the Locality Assets Transfer team and an urban designer from Singapore I worked for three days to develop a masterplan for a real development site to the east of Birmingham city centre.
We undertook an analysis of the site, considering the site area and boundary, surrounding area and adjacent sites, natural features and setting, character and distinctiveness, historical eature and context, exisiting transport connections and social context, exisiting character, in order to identify the site's opportunities and constraints. Over the following two days we talked animatedly, sketched and shared ideas, drawing from our range of perspectives and skills to develop a sustainable and convivial vision and masterplan for the site.
Considering how people would live, work and enjoy the site remained at the centre of all our thinking.
Our team was selected by the judges to have developed the winning proposal, and each went home with a copy of Robert Cowan's Dictionary of Urbanism, which appears to define and explain almost every word or phrase related to buildings, architecture and urban design I'm ever likely to hear or use.
I built on and utilised my exisiting knowledge, and appreciated the opportunity to engage with my fellow delegates and their different perspectives and skills as much as the formal course work.