Ear-boggling – we like!

Following Liane’s talk at EcoBuild, Melanie Thompson of Get Sust! (Twitter: @Get_Sust )wrote a lovely review of it in an article for the RIBA/NBS website about EcoBuild 2013 entitled  “Rules, roles and responsibilities: sustainability comes of age at EcoBuild”

We’ve extracted Melanie’s review below and you can find the link to the actual article here. Scroll down to the end and look out for the words “ear-boggling”!

Rewriting the rules: from building regulations to steampunk

As for making rules, that was the realm of the next generation of design professionals, exemplified by Liane Hartley, director of the think-tank-cum-consultancy, Mend. Hartley’s thesis of “community as client” is underpinned by an evident passion for all things social. For instance, her social enterprise business runs an ad hoc “planning in the pub” event which does exactly what it says on the tin, and is a busy blogger and social networker (Twitter: @lianemendsacity). Crucially, hers is a business model that gets down to street level: Mend is currently helping to deliver responsible and ethical procurement for Crossrail, and coaching community leaders in the Heston West Community Partnership, for instance.

Her ear-boggling presentation in the Ecobuild conference stream “How can design help to create sustainable communities?” rattled through a wide panoply of ideas at breakneck pace. Cities are social networks; cities are parallel universes; planning is a form of “version control”; the age of the physical city has passed – now it’s all about networks, flows, shared contacts, the peer-to-peer economy and “real-time living”. These are just a few of the soundbites from her inspirational talk, illustrated by slides of street art, colourful street-view network maps and classic Steampunk images. On a more serious note, her description of the cycle of development epitomized by London’s “silicon roundabout”, where young software developers and associated businesses have clustered in a hive of creativity, is a timely lesson for urban developers. What began as a couple of microbusinesses near Old Street tube station has mushroomed into a “tech city” which attracts established players until a critical mass is reached, then the bright young upstarts drift away to colonize another area. Urban design, says Liane Hartley, is no longer about imposing a vision; designers need to recognise the importance of mess (the “idiosyncratic-ness” of development) and acknowledge that the future city is “a magic cauldron that helps social networking to take place”.

Catch her if you can! Liane Hartley’s presentation is a great example of what’s really good about Ecobuild. Just as you’re getting bored of the carbon-copy exhibits of insulation materials, window “technologies” and plumbing gadgets, you stumble across a talk you hadn’t put on your itinerary that really strikes a chord and inspires new ideas.

Thanks to Melanie @Get_Sust and look out for more on the topics raised in Liane’s talk coming soon.

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