David Page recently contributed to the RTPI ‘Doors Open Day event’ at St Andrew's in the Square, Glasgow. Amongst a variety of speakers asked to consider the achievement of planning over the last 100 years, he tackled the subject using the evolution of the Gorbals in Glasgow as a template. What he showed was that when planners and architects adopted the principles of ‘conservative surgery’ advocated by Patrick Geddes, a new empathy emerged with the environments being created or reworked.
Moreover, he said that in extending Geddes’ principles we should see the cities and towns as a metaphorical ‘living body’, operating on it from the professional perspective of the surgeon. Demolition becomes like ‘amputation’, repairing fabric appears like ‘stitching’ together, renewal seen as ‘transplant’ and extending the urban form resembling a ‘graft’.
Implicit in this analogy is the requirement for extreme care, the patient needs to be kept alive - the living city should not be allowed to become a corpse.