July 05, 2009

Liverpool Architecture Society's Integrated City Project

A few days ago I found out about a project that the Liverpool Architecture Society is in the process of launching. The Integrated City Project is a challenge to look at ways of reconnecting the various districts and areas of Liverpool and working out a cohesive set of suggestions and plans for how best to develop the city.

There isn't anything as yet on the LAS website, but the LAS President elect, Robert MacDonald, has kindly agreed to let me publish the details in a web-friendly format here.

I'm not exactly sure how I can help with the project, but it seems that it could be a great opportunity (and possibly that final push that I need) to try out some of the really interesting "civic software" initiatives that are springing up.

Could the findings feed into a set of requirements for some DIYCity.org projects?

Would something like the Sutton Green Map help inform people about amenities, planning and infrastructure issues?

Can we experiment with the recently released source code for EveryBlock?

It also feeds nicely into the sorts of technology and ways of working explored by the Be2Camp group, and that initiatives like Talk About Local are starting to address.

Of course, it's quite possible that this is the sort of technology-focused response that fails miserably because it's targeted at the iPhone-wielding web native. But I think there are ways round that, and that's maybe where the geeks of Liverpool can help - rather than just installing all these whizzy Web2.0 services, we can extend them and look for ways to integrate them into peoples lives. Maybe text-messaging can provide enough interaction and richness to bootstrap the service; or we could integrate with The Newspaper Club to provide hyper-local, customised paper versions of the content; or work with local shopkeepers to install simple information kiosks... We'll need to work out what the problems really are first, but if services like this are useful then the technical challenges can be overcome.

I don't want to publish Robert's email address online, so if you want to find out more or get involved with the project then let me know and I'll happily pass your details on. My email address is over on the left.

Liverpool Architecture Society's Integrated City Project

Map of Liverpool showing the assorted districts within the city

Just imagine a ‘do it yourself’ city. Crises in government organisation and financial development are leading towards the self organisation of people in urban situations. Liverpool Citizens need encouragement to take creative and cultural urban control of architecture and inner city developments.

As an upbeat creative response to the economic recession, The Liverpool Architectural Society (established 1848) and others are planning a positive city wide project as part of the forthcoming cultural years of the Environment and Innovation. The society aims to address architectural, cultural, planning and social issues in the Inner and Outer City of Liverpool. The LAS aims to be inspired by local communities and situations. Multi-professional teams of architects, landscape architects, artists, students and communities will set out to create a series of practical and theoretical urban propositions for the inner city. A locally designed and constructed integrated light rail tram system is also being considered as a way of re-connecting different parts of the fragmented Inner City.

Currently, the Inner City is very much a hollow vessel without people. It needs new urban activity and density. In 1931 the overall population was 857, 247 and in 2002 the population was 441,500. In Merseyside, 83,000 jobs were lost between 1981 and 1986, representing 1 in 3 jobs. The average annual income in Liverpool was £7,363 in 2001, which was £4,127 under the national average. Unemployment is well above the national average. The biggest single knowledge gap is that we do not know whether the vacant land and empty building problem is getting worst, or better, or staying the same. The population increase in the 12,000 of new build apartments, in recent years, has been in the City Centre. Why has the inner city and outer areas been excluded and disconnected from these new developments ? The LAS ambition is to include the Inner City in future speculative visions for the city.

The best way to appreciate the shrinking Inner City and polarisation of Outer City of Liverpool is to just take a short walk out from the City Centre or take a bus ride to The Dingle, Toxteth, Kensington, Edge Hill or Walton or Seaforth. Any number of empty buildings, houses and vacant sites immediately become apparent. These neighbourhoods, districts and locations will be the focus of The Integrated City Project (see adjacent map, copyright James Mellor) This map highlights 33 urban districts including Speke and Garston. There are also numerous zones of vacancy ‘inbetween’ the perceived urban neighbourhoods.


The urban design methodology will be to invite 33 independent and autonomous teams of designers to adopt one the Urban Districts or neighbourhoods. Each group will then be invited, over a twelve month period, to develop local contacts and participate with their communities to create new Urban Models for the neighbourhoods. The community connections might include Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Network for Change, Tenants Spin, City Planners, industrialists,developers, schools, businesses, creative industries, social groups, libraries, hospitals, health centres, GP’s, public houses, cultural, sports and entertainment. This process of design participation will be recorded by public progress presentations.


The objective will be to hold an exhibition in a Major Public Venue in 2010 attracting National profile and publicity. The 33 individual projects will be presented as 1.500 models, photographs of the inner city communities, illustrations of the new projects, interactive multi-media, film and moving image. The Liverpool City Council will be invited to take a lead and participate by displaying the updated Shankland City Centre Model. There will be opportunities for public participation, sponsorship, either financial or in kind with the involvement of various city wide agencies.


Posted by Adrian at July 5, 2009 05:37 PM | TrackBack

This blog post is on the personal blog of Adrian McEwen. If you want to explore the site a bit further, it might be worth having a look at the most recent entries or look through the archives or categories over on the left.

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