A 21st century Agora?

July 28, 2011

Urban Pollinators’ response to Mary Portas’ high streets review makes interesting reading. They recognise the importance of town centres beyond the narrow definition of commercial centres; needing to be ‘multifuncitonal social centres’. They state they need to be for “enjoyment, creativity, learning, socialising, culture, health and wellbeing and democratic engagement: a 21st century agora”.

There is a recognition of the importance of local spatial layouts (here they cite Jan Gehl’s seminal work on ‘Cities for People’: ‘wanting to go into town is different from wanting or needing to shop. It is about an experience. It is about sociability and relaxation, creativity and being part of something you cannot get at home or at work.’

There is also a recognition of the importance of larger scale connectivity and design considerations such as maintaining a diversity of ‘space typologies’ – ensuring a range in terms of ‘ownership, unit size, rental levels and lease types’. This is said to be crucial to make sure that local ventures can have access to affordable and flexible space and thus to the wider market at all stages of the economic cycle.

It’s worth looking at the second part of the report for the range of case studies of local projects that seem to be working.

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