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Landscape lobby labels Farrell Review ‘a missed opportunity’

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The Landscape Institute has called on the Farrell Review of architecture to focus on ‘liveable cities’

In a statement, the royal chartered body for landscape architects described the high-profile review as ‘backward-looking and too inwardly focused’.

The independent review, backed by DCMS, published an online questionnaire seeking views from across the ‘architecture world’ last week.

Responding to the call for evidence, Landscape Institute president Sue Illman said: ‘In a world confronted by rapidly expanding urban populations, scarce resources, environmental and economic challenges it is disappointing to learn that the first such review since 2000 asks no questions about the role of government in creating sustainable environments or of transport, infrastructure, SMART cities, green infrastructure, water-sensitive design, place-making or many other established features of progressive urban design.

‘The cities in which we live are not composed just of buildings. We have a relationship with the natural and ecological forces that influence the structure and working of our cities.’

According to the institute, any review of architecture and the built environment should focus on creating ‘liveable cities’ which it defined as resilient settlements which are more capable of meeting the social, environmental and economic needs of citizens.

Illman added: ‘Any review of the built environment should be debating not only the role of well-designed and managed public space, but changes in land use, water sensitive urban design, the impact of major infrastructure and sustaining biodiversity, and we will be bringing these views to the Review when we submit our formal response in a few weeks.’ 

Sustainability was mentioned in three questions in the review questionnaire. The first two questions related to exporting UK sustainability expertise in an era of rapid globalisation and the final question asked:‘What is the role of architecture and the built environment in enabling a better public understanding of issues related to sustainability and the environment?’

Responding to the query AHMM director Simon Allford said the question was ‘as clumsy intellectually as it is grammatically’.

He said: ‘Architecture is not the construct of subliminal advertising, whilst the desire to ensure we are on message smacks more of control than enquiry . Designers of the built environment are receiving more than enough messages on sustainability in the form of extensive and ever evolving regulations, standards and discourse.

‘So the need is not to better communicate the message but to challenge current orthodoxies. History advises us that ideas for a better immediate and distant future are most likely to be discovered in the past. We are experiencing an ecological evolution not revolution.

‘Indeed just now so burdensome are current constraints that I am certain that the primary role of architecture is to ameliorate between life and law. Allowing people to enjoy living their lives, aware of ambitions but unconstrained by dogma. Ultimately the most sustainable place is the most delightful place. A place where long into the future people want to live, work, learn and play. A place free of excessive messaging and control.’








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