Film of Manchester Salon debate: Modernisation, development and conservation

Modernisation, development and conservation

Dominic Standish, Angela Connelly, Tom Jarman and Alex Solk opened up ‘sustainable development’ to some critical thinking, chaired by Jane Leach.

This debate was organised by Manchester Salon, partnered by Manchester Society of Architects and was hosted at Manchester School of Architecture on 24 April 2013.

The debate addressed topics of sustainability in many locations, including Manchester, Venice, Istanbul, Liverpool, India, Dubai and Tucson (Arizona, USA).

A film of the debate can be viewed by clicking on this link:

Thanks to Dan Clayton the documentary filmmaker from Leeds for producing this film. This is a link to Dan’s website:
Dan Clayton

Some of the key issues are raised in the description below:

Debates about sustainability and development permeate multiple aspects of life throughout the world in the twenty-first century. With increasing urbanisation, those debates are often focused on the life of cities, including Manchester, Venice, Nairobi, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro. Appropriate planning according to the changing character of geographical areas is especially challenging due to social and economic transformation. In addition, as rural areas become more managed, how we balance protecting the environment with development has become a pressing question.

With most worldwide manufacturing employment outside Western Europe and North America, how does this change life in these regions? Can Western cities become cultural, tourist, educational and service centres or is there still a role for industry? What implications do these questions have for western city development versus preserving ancient heritage?

This salon discussion examined these questions in light of how the relationship of humanity to nature has changed. Nineteenth century modernisation applied science and industry to transform nature and Romantic Movement intellectuals reacted. Conservationist organisations were formed to protect places of natural beauty and heritage. Conservationism presumed a separation of society and nature, but in the early twentieth century a “human ecological” perspective integrated natural and social knowledge. Environmental thinkers of the 1960s developed the integration of natural and social knowledge to construct a holistic natural science. This integration was codified through the implementation of sustainable development policies from the 1980s. Sustainable development emphasises that environmentalism should not be limited to protecting nature, but should address economics and politics too.

Dominic put the case for modernisation to fulfil human needs while also achieving preservation. He argued sustainable development constrains modernisation and limits our ability to preserve nature and our heritage. Therefore, future planning should reject sustainable development in favour of full development and modernisation, coupled with preserving nature and heritage. How this approach influences different places was explored in the discussion.

Information about the speakers:

Dr Angela Connelly is a researcher at the School of Environment and Development at the University of Manchester. She is interested in technological and social adaptation in the built environment. Her career began with an architectural history of Methodism’s Central Halls. More recently, she has looked at contemporary challenges to the built environment, such as climate change adaptation in Greater Manchester, as well as flood risk and the promise of new flood technologies.

Tom Jarman joined the Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios Bath office in 2006 after completing his studies at Bath University. He has worked on a wide range of projects in both the private and public sectors including PPS 7 Country Houses, University Buildings and Zoos. Tom undertook a project for MyPlace to design a new Youth Centre in Torbay in 2009. Tom is currently running a project on site for a major new 23m Arts facility at Manchester School of Art.

Alex Solk is an Associate Partner in Sheppard Robson. He leads the Sustainability team for Sheppard Robson in the north. He says that “as buildings emit over 50% of UK carbon emissions, architects have the greatest opportunity to make a real difference to improve the environment”. His role sees him carry out research with his team, and applying a sustainability ethos across all their projects, in the commercial, healthcare, residential, education, science, interior and urban regeneration sectors. Alex was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Construction Future Leaders Awards in 2008. If not an architect, then he’d like to be a racing driver, though at the other end of the speed scale, his hero is the Dali Lama.

Dr Dominic Standish, a British citizen, has been living in the region of Venice since 1997, with his wife, Laura, & now 2 sons. Dominic lectures for the University of Iowa (USA) at its sites in Asolo and Paderno (Italy) (CUIS/CIMBA). His first book ‘Venice in Environmental Peril? Myth and Reality’ was published by UPA in the USA in January 2012.

The debate was chaired by:
Jane Leach, who set up her architecture practice i architect in 2009 and is a Green Register listed Eco Refurbisher. Previously Jane was Chair of the Manchester Women’s Design Group, a freelance architect in Barcelona and lead project architect at Aedas Manchester in the education team, where she designed a number of large BSF Secondary Schools incorporating BREEAM accreditation requirements. Jane’s current focus is on temporary art installations and public consultations alongside her main practice of commercial and domestic projects. She is a council member of the Manchester Society of Architects and CPD Coordinator for the RIBA NorthWest Solo Practitioners Group

The debate was organised by Manchester Salon and this a link to its website for this debate:
Modernisation, development and conservation

About the Manchester Salon:
The Manchester Salon was inspired after a trip to London for the Battle of Ideas in 2007, and a desire to bring some of the flavour of those very engaging debates to Manchester – at least in between the annual Battle of Ideas festival. The Salon organises discussions that happily move from a problematic or tricky topic in current affairs one month, through a morally difficult subject of scientific research the next, followed by unpicking the tensions between the Arts and demands by Policy wonks. There’s no interesting subject the Manchester Salon won’t consider.
The aim is to capture the essence and nuances of the intellectual and moral problems facing society, challenging modern prejudices and debating solutions. With as many views as there are participants, discussions are often ongoing and carry on more informally in the bar afterwards.

Discussion Partners:

Manchester Society of Architects (MSA) was formed in 1865, it was affiliated to become a branch of the RIBA in 1891, and has a membership numbering approximately 800. The Society is the largest in the North West region of the RIBA and our members comprise approximately 45% of the entire region’s total. The illustrious history of the MSA charts Manchester’s rise to prominence from ‘Cottonopolis’ into a pioneering European City. Past Presidents have included many prestigious Manchester architects. For over 140 years through the generations, these architects have shaped the City of Manchester as we know it today.
The MSA represents and supports the architects and the architectural students of Manchester and promotes their work. We are supported by our chapters, Stockport Tameside and Macclesfield and Wigan Bolton and Bury. Manchester Young Practitioners in Architecture are also affiliated with the MSA. It organizes architectural events, lectures, travel scholarships and bursaries to students and organizes the annual MSA design awards which showcases the talents of Mancunian architects and architectural students.

The Manchester School of Architecture was formed in 1996, as an innovative collaboration between Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester. The MSA draws on extensive teaching and research expertise within both institutions, with their students being able to make use of the facilities of both Universities. A decade after its formation, the MSA is gearing up to grow into a leading international centre for research and teaching in architecture and urban studies. The MSA is a joint school of the University of Manchester’s School of Environment and Development (SED), and the Manchester Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Art and Design.

Thanks to all the speakers, Simon Belt of Manchester Salon, Manchester Society of Architects and Manchester School of Architecture for contributing to an important and stimulating debate. Speical thanks also to the architect Mark Iddon for a leading role in organising the debate. Mark is owner of Urbanization Architects and can be contacted using this link:
Mark Iddon

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