City & Land Annual Review

/ Andrew Bateman / City & Land

We group our work interests into two bundles. City and Land sits in what we call our 'methodological' grouping, that is the work we do adds up to a way of working common to all projects in the office. City and Land obviously represents our concern for each context. Taken together with 'Conservation' which is the story behind each setting we are working in and 'Briefing and Interiors', the activities in each place, our methodology informs every project. Our mantra then - know the place, it's story and think about the activities that take place.

We became involved in what was called master-planning many years ago because we realised that for many organisations simply planning day by day, reacting to whatever comes up, results in short term solutions that may need to be re-done, or even un-done as the context reacts to other influences. The masterplan was a means of looking further into the future, speculation that allowed us to put short term needs in a broader context so that less needed to be re-appraised. Our experience of these projects has helped us clarify which components of the masterplan are critical to shaping the future of settings so that the plans are 'robust and flexible' quoting Ian White, a long time collaborator.

These plans are never delivered on empty sites. There are, inevitably, historical remnants that need to be understood in making any plan, if not historical reasons for the settings we find ourselves considering. The plan needs to recognise these ideas and what and who has shaped them historically. Rather than seeing ourselves as the beginning of a new story we are part of a continuum that links past and future.

Perhaps what we have realised is that we have to avoid the sense of our plans being hollow shells. Yes we know the story and the people who brought it into being, but what of the future story and people? The best way to populate our future plans is to gather more folk around us to think about how we might populate these shells in the future. Like our business, rather than the lonely figure looking jnto the crystal ball, it is more about gathering people around the table to share the vision. Widening that table rather than narrowing it is the very exciting journey into the future.