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Falconer to take centre stage at urban design conference

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The Urban Design Alliance (UDAL) has secured Lord Falconer as the keynote speaker at its national conference next month, a move which the alliance is reading as a sign of the weight the government attaches to the subject. 'It shows the level of importance the government puts on urban design and how it values joined-up thinking between institutions, ' chairman David Whitby told the AJ.

The conference forms the centrepiece of the UDAL-organised Urban Design Week, which runs from 17-23 September. The alliance was formed four years ago by seven separate bodies including the RIBA, RICS and the Institution of Civil Engineers. The conference will look at the construction and improvement of residential environments, transport interchanges and roads. Delegates will hear from a number of speakers including Whitby and Alan Baxter Associates partner David Taylor.

CABE and English Heritage commissioner Les Sparks will weigh up the success of Birmingham in a talk called 'Birmingham Vision 1950 - motor town or flawed vision'.

Urban Design Week, the fourth of its kind, will include a number of seminars, festivals, exhibitions and lectures on the theme of 'urban visions'.

'The week is not necessarily about glorious design but enhancing spaces between buildings at a down-to-earth level, such as deterring builders from digging up York stone paving and replacing it with tarmac. Expectations in the past have been too great, or so low because people feel they can't make a difference, ' said Whitby, adding that the week included 'a lot of little things rather than big 'hooray' things'.

More than 100 events are scheduled for the week 17-21 September, including:

'10 Years: 10 Cities' - an exhibition by Terry Farrell & Partners on Monday 17;

a conference on the relationship between new and old architecture in Leicester on Tuesday 18;

a 'city visions' symposium in Cardiff - examining the cities of Vancouver, Paris, Cairo and Cardiff - on Wednesday 19;

a festival and street party focusing on lighting strategies at London's Lansbury Estate on Thursday 20; and an exhibition on urban renaissance in Bristol on Saturday 22 September.

The national conference will take place in Birmingham on 20 September, price £120. To book a place, contact Caroline Martin at www.

hawksmere. co. uk or tel 020 7881 1847. Details on Urban Design Week can be obtained from Eleanor Silk on 020 7350 5200 or at www. udal. org. uk

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