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Review - Design and Landscape for People: New Approaches to Renewal

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By Robert Holden

Design and Landscape for People: New Approaches to Renewal.
By Clare Cumberlidge and Lucy Musgrave.
Thames and Hudson, 2007. 224pp. £29.95

This is a really interesting pictorial survey of projects worldwide since 1990 dealing with urban and rural regeneration. Written by public art curator Clare Cumberlidge and former director of the Architecture Foundation Lucy Musgrave – who now run the art and public realm consultancy General Public Agency – this is a take on contemporary community action and renewal.

At first glance, the book seems to be a series of snapshots, not an analysis; but the projects are grouped by theme – utility, citizenship, rural, identity and urban – which the introductory essays do explore to some extent.

In the ‘utility’ section, for instance, Cumberlidge and Musgrave note that the creation of water supply or transport networks can result in new structures which cut across urban forms, paying little thought to what’s already there. So they argue for the reuse of infrastructure and for interventions that are sensitive to local needs.

Their examples include the playpumps installed in numerous villages in South Africa. Powered by children playing on roundabouts, the pumps raise groundwater – as much as 1,400l an hour – into big overhead tanks, adorned with AIDS prevention messages and the advertising which pays for the programme. The pumps also help to combat disease: the threat of cholera in open water supplies.

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