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First Farrell Review-inspired 'urban room' set to open

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The first urban room – a recommendation of the Farrell Review – is set to open in Blackburn next month

Blackburn’s room will be a centre to engage people in learning about the built environment and architecture.

According to Blackburn is Open, a creative regeneration scheme funded by Arts Council England and backed by Blackburn with Darwen Council, the space will explore ‘the town centre’s past, present and future covering a range of topics from architecture and leisure, to the night-time economy and opportunities to utilise empty spaces.’

The room will initially set to open for six weeks and host debates, exhibitions and workshops.

The space will be opened by designer Wayne Hemingway at an event featuring talks by Otto Saumarez Smith on the history of the modernist Blackburn Shopping Centre, Carolyn Butterworth of Sheffield School of Architecture, and Max Farrell of Farrells, on 21 October.

Wayne Hemingway, said: ‘When Blackburn is Open was set up we decided we wanted it to be bold, to take creative risks and to experiment with new ways of doing things.

‘This is the perfect project for us and I’m delighted that we are being trailblazers in this area.

‘The Urban Room aims to get people thinking about the creative possibilities of architecture; thinking how they can have their say about the place where they live and thinking the opportunities they can create to do things differently.’

Max Farrell, added: ‘It is fantastic news that the first urban room in the UK is opening in Blackburn.

‘The town is leading the way by creating a hub where people can visit to understand and debate the past, present and future of their place. I know that other towns and cities are watching with great interest and looking forward to learning from Blackburn’s inclusive and innovative approach to placemaking, urban design and architecture.’

Further urban rooms are planned for Sheffield, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Telford. Sheffield has plans for two – a city room and a village room. Birmingham’s is a collaboration between Birmingham City University and the council and will be located at Curzon Station, while Liverpool is planning a mobile urban room backed by the RIBA North West.

The urban rooms were recommended in the recently published Farrell Review. It suggested they should be created in towns and cities across the UK as places where people can become involved in debating the built environment of the cities in which they live.

Farrell added: ‘They are all led by different people from different walks of life.

‘The urban rooms are about urban activism – about engaging people with the planning of their cities.’

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