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Architecture Lecture 2018 - Surrey Utopia by Alister Kratt

19th November 2018

Guildford Society’s Architecture Lecture 2018 Surrey Utopia – A Brave New World by Alister Kratt, lDA Design University of Surrey, 6th November 2018 The 2018 Guildford Society’s Annual Architecture Lecture was hosted and supported by the University of Surrey, sponsored by Martin Grant Homes and supported by the Guildford Magazine. The Inaugural Annual Architecture Lecture, "Perspectives in Architecture” was given in 2007 by Christopher Nash. The 2018 Lecture was attended by about 140 people and the excellent post lecture supper in the Lakeside Restaurant gave people a chance to meet and engage with the speaker and guests. Figure 1: Guests Arriving The proceedings were opened by Greg Melly, Senior Vice President of the University of Surrey, who introduced the Speaker, Alister Kratt of LDA Design. Alister is a local man, born in East Horsley and is known for his work on the Olympic Park and Battersea Power Station. Figure 2: Greg Melly, Senior Vice President, introducing the Speaker He also invited people to attend the Surrey Hills Symposium, to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), at the University on the 28th November from 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Figure 3: Surrey Utopia The opening slides of Surrey Utopia featured nostalgic views of Godalming, Box Hill and the home counties and a warning from the poet Abraham Crowley that nice places attracted people and risk turning into overcrowded Cities. The talk focused on five topics: 1) Understanding the Past 2) Fear of Change 3) Drivers for Change 4) Disruptive Technology 5) Intentionally Good Figure 4: Alister Kratt, Battling the Display System Unfortunately, the speaker had to do battle with the projection system, which on several occasions decided to take the speaker back to the first slide. After several attempts to get back on track, the hand held controller was abandoned in favour of using the computer keyboard. Understanding the Past Alister gave credit to the Surrey History Centre’s archives of Maps, Pictures and Histories. Guildford’s position on the River Wey and its topography as it cuts through the North Downs are very important in giving Guildford its character and the reason for its growth. This was reinforced by the coming of the Railways and the enormous growth in housing that followed. We learn from and make our history. This has led Guildford to be constrained not only by the Downs but by the fact that 89% of the Borough is Green Belt, nearly half of which is in the Surrey Hills area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But this is now under increasing pressure. It is interesting to note that it is the Metropolitan Green Belt, not the Guildford Green Belt. This means that the rules are not under local control. Fear of Change There are several underlying behaviours: People protect that, which they belong to. Divisions, towns have grown, but the villages and countryside have seen little change. Growth, by and for whom? Drivers for Change Climate Change is affecting wildlife, many trees are dying from disease. Population growth leads to • The need to improve Health and Wellbeing. • The threat of new technology causing unemployment. • More energy being used, more traffic, more land being used for housing and more consumption of natural resources. Disruptive Technology The Internet’s impact on social behaviour, commerce and the death of the High Street, the internet of things. Robotics Autonomous Vehicles. Intermittent Renewable Energy and the need for Energy Storage. Intentionally Good This concluding section mentioned a number of Projects in which the Speaker was involved and his efforts to include features that made them “Good”. The LDA mantra is “People, Place and Landscape”. They included: Saffron Waldon, a contemporary landscape including, high density housing, not just for the rich. Green Belt Projects in Cambridge, the Cambridge to Oxford Growth Corridor and Centre Parks (Woburn). The Cotswolds AONB Tall Buildings in Oxford. Shrewsbury Town Plan. Harringay Football Stadium with Social & Private Housing. Peabody Trust - Thamesmead. Restore Clifton House, Cliveden near Taplow. Sizewell Nuclear Power Station. Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon. HS2 Euston Station and Coln Valley viaduct. Northala Fields, a country style park including four artificial hills in Northolt. The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – Legacy Project. Restoration of Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets and Burgess Park, Southhwark. Questions Julian Lyon, Chairman of the Guildford Society, thanked Alister Kratt for his talk and invited questions. However, this was limited to two questions, to avoid being late for the supper. 1) John Rigg: After Decades of Mediocracy, How to change? This is difficult because Planners are stretched, they do not have enough resources, often lack local knowledge and quality training. 2) John Markwell: How to provide Green Infrastructure? Unfortunately, Green Belt policies are mostly visual, they ignore quality. Relationships are very important. There is a need for better access, better quality of Green Spaces and the Recreation element is very important. Observations A comfortable lecture, that avoided being controversial. By looking at our history and seeking to make change pleasant, it avoided discussing the problems that arise from continuous growth in a finite world. You simply run out of room. Notes by Doug Scott

Posted by: Doug Scott