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Urban renewal - innovation not war

Urban renewal is often carried out as if planning and executing a war. Yet realizing prosperity and progress is often about building trust, peaceful relations and the ground on which creativity can flourish. David Barrie, a producer and director of urban renewal, design and media projects and programmes, presented an approach to urban renewal that is based on building networks of people and institutions, fostering social ties, and so enabling transformational, sustainable change.

Two projects in the UK, which David used to describe such an approach, exemplify the value and use of new social relations to the improvement of public spaces and value uplift of poorly performing towns and cities. In the former mining town of Castleford, a six-year programme of community empowerment and innovative design development has led to the improvement of public places. In the former chemicals town of Middlesbrough, a project devoted to enabling local food production has involved thousands of people from all over town growing, cooking and sharing the food that they have grown.

Both projects have had far-reaching effects on the social, environmental and capital growth potential of their communities. And both projects mark the value of innovative public and institutional involvement in urban renewal.

The event was co-organised by the Centre of Contemporary Architecture