Day Two: Tuesday 14th June 2011

Gareth Sumner’s blog; Urban Designer at TY.

After the information bombardment of the first day, Day Two was a chance to get the creative juices flowing and start to imagine what kind of a place could be created.

But what’s the plan for the site?

Before moving on to the second day’s activities it was important to summarise and ensure that everyone was moving forward together.  There was a concern raised at this point by one of the attendees that they were going to be led down a particular route to approve a pre-agreed future for the site.  Stephen Gleave made it clear that from his point of view there was nothing agreed and that he was as new to investigating a future for the site as the attendees.  He reemphasized the fact that the objective of the week was not to produce a design solution but to interrogate all we know about the site and investigate how we want to prepare the planning system for a positive future for Woodford. be or not to be?

The day began with an interactive session.  The room was split into two and each group given 40 different images on cards.  The task was simple enough (or so we thought!), to stick each image under the headings “For Woodford” and “Not for Woodford” to help us all understand what kind of place wanted to create.

At first I thought I’d spotted a pattern – if there was green space on the image it was for Woodford, if it had any kind of building on it wasn’t!  (hmm, this could be a tough week I thought).  But as more images went on the boards, I realized it was much more subtle than.  The session ended up stimulating some really interesting debates about what fitted in the Woodford context, what was bold enough for Woodford and what was simply irrelevant.

Analyzing the boards afterwards we had a pleasant surprise that although there was disagreement between the two groups on what was “not for Woodford”, there was much more that the two groups agreed upon. Check the photos out below to see what you think…

A long term place…

Adam Broadway kicked of the formal part of the day with a presentation on Sustainability and its importance for the future of Woodford.   This is a massively broad area and “sustainability” is word that seems to be used in almost every conversation about the future.  However Adam did well to cut through it all and present a fascinating view on how a focus on sustainability was simply about making a place “sustainable” and about creating a place that was able to deal with the rapidly changing and developing challenges that the world, as a whole, has to tackle.

A sustainability protocol…

Adam proposed putting sustainability at the heart of Woodford’s future by setting up a “Sustainability Protocol” focused on 4 key areas:

  • Character & identity
  • Movement & linkages
  • Landscape & green infrastructure
  • Uses & activities (social infrastructure)

The room was a little quiet at the end of the presentation, but why? It turned out it wasn’t a lack of caffeine, but because it “was difficult to disagree with” said one attendee.  Great! We thought.  Although this wasn’t quite the universal view with a few attendees pondering whether we really need to bear more of the pain for climate change than we were responsible for.


But hold on, what are we calling this place? The question was raised what area we were talking about, or at least what were we calling it? “Woodford”? “Woodford Aerodrome”? “The Site”? “AVRO”? we settled on (for now) “AVRO” as the historic name for the area in question.

Visionary thinking…

We all then recharged our caffeine levels and after the break begun to try to articulate a vision for the site.  Four tables, five cards each, 5 words needed.  Specifically, 5 adjectives that would describe a vision for the future of AVRO.  The groups got to work trying to work out what a describing word was before, in lightening speed, coming up with 5 surprisingly similar, but at the same time, diverse sets of 5 words.  Sympathetic, bold, achievable, individual, diverse, appropriate, un-ignorable, natural, integrated and village-like were all included in a brilliant display of creative words.

Back in to your groups…

Next up, each group was asked to focus on a different area of the sustainability protocol.  The groups were given 30 minutes to come up with the top 5 priorities in each area and present them back to the group.   The results were really positive with a diverse range of views on each area.

The character & identity group wanted to create a bold forward looking place that referenced the past but created a 21st century “model village”.  “AVRO Park” was suggested as a name and the runway as some kind of central, special place.

The movement and linkages group were careful to consider both the situation now and in the future, looking at improved public transport connections, providing links across the site (breaking down the barrier of the runway) and creating a place in which people could walk around.

Use & activity was an interesting one and came up with a multitude of diverse uses including different types of residential development and numerous recreational and other uses for the green space.  All connected by sustainable modes of transport.

Finally, the group focusing on Landscape started by clarifying that the site today was not a natural landscape but a managed and man-made one.  Importantly the question was asked “what kind of green do we want?” The group outlined the potential to improve biodiversity through wetlands, the potential of a lake or water feature and the opportunity to produce links across the site that made the most of the landscape.

The discussions concluded after another successful day with a good buzz in the room and a desire to make the most of the remaining days ahead.

Tomorrow will focus on place making and Future Woodfords technical parameters…

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.