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Creative Clusters 2007, London: Transforming Public Space

On Wednesday 14th November, the V&A plays host to our special ‘Transforming Public Space’ session. This half-day event brings cultural practitioners, urban planners and economic development people into a conversation about the role of culture in improving the liveability of city streets.

The seminar is connected with the ‘Shared Space’ public realm improvement scheme for London’s Exhibition Road that goes on site next year: Exhibition Road is home to the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum and the Victoria and Albert museum. It is also a busy through-route for cars, buses and lorries.

Plan are now afoot to strip out the safety barriers, kerb stones and traffic lights which keep pedestrians and drivers separate. This system is designed to ensure that road users “negotiate” with each other through eye contact or hand signals rather than having it enforced by traffic signals and signs.

This seminar looks at the relationship between ‘soft’ cultural interventions and animation alongside the ‘hard’ infrastructure changes such as pedestrianisation and traffic management.

Speakers include:

  • David Anderson (Development Director of the V&A)
  • Daniel Moylan (Deputy Leader, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea)
  • Hans Monderman (‘the father of Shared Space’)
  • Rob Whiteman (Chief Executive, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham)
  • Sarah Gaventa (Director, CABE Space)
  • Adrian Evans (Director, Thames Festival)

Shared Space – Room for Everyone

The first part of the morning will focus on Hans Monderman’s dramatic and conroversial vision for public spaces, Shared Space. Shared Space is a revolutionary approach to the design and culture of urban streets, sometimes called ‘designing for negotiation’. The goal is to make users more conspicuous and predictable, empowering them to cooperate with each cheap oakleys another. In a Shared Space environment, most signs and road markings are removed, and the responsibility for negotiating a safe passage lies with individual drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, all of whom have parity of status.

Hans Monderman is a traffic engineer by background, now working at the Keuning Institute in Groningen, the Netherlands.

The Feast on the Bridge: The Thames Festival

The Mayor’s Thames Festival celebrates London’s river with amazing open air arts, pyrotechnics, illuminations, river events, street theatre, massed choirs and music.

This year marks the festival’s 10th Anniversary, which was celebrated in style – from the Al Fresco Ballrooms in unique riverside settings, to themed feasts on Southwark Bridge, to the festival’s climactic event, a spectacular Night Carnival and fireworks display. The festival was launched in 1997 with a stunning high-wire walk across the River Thames and over the years it has grown incrementally to become one of London’s largest annual events.

Thames Festival Director Adrian Evans argues that participation, and not spectacle alone, is the critical element for transformative public events:

Essentially, we want to provide a celebration for London and its river, a city centre party if you
like, one that is free and open to all. We want to close roads and bridges and transform them with
culture. We want to educate and transform cheap oakley sunglasses people’s ideas about the river, too. Most of all, we want
people not just to be spectators, but to be active participants in this spectacular London event.