Friday, 31 May 2019

The Cynic in me.

This is not original, but I had not seen it before and I really liked it – so I am sharing it.

We all know about giving 100% effort and are frequently exhorted to give 110% effort. But do you know the maths behind it?

If alpha characters: 
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 
are represented as numbers: 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26. 

8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%



11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 

But: A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E  1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%          And then

        B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T    2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%  

But: A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G   1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118% 

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that while Hard work and Knowledge will  get you close, and Attitude will get you there. 
Its the
 Bullshit and Ass Kissing that will put you at the top of the tree. So now you know why some people are where they are!

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Does Good Design Pay

Tremendous thanks to Tim Garratt (Innes England), David Franklin (Franklin Ellis) and David Singleton (DSA Env + Design) for making Landmark Planning's latest pub seminar Monday nights event at the Parcel Yard, Leicester on “Does Good Design Pay” so illuminating and entertaining. I introduced the event with the Planning take on Good Design, stressing the importance of context and providing the latest on public policy at a national level. This then provided the framework for our guests to provide their views from a valuer and designers’ perspective.

We all got so wrapped in the debate forgot to take the guests' photo at the end! 100 professionals heard different sides of the debate in a modified pecha kucha style and then faced questions from an engaged audience. Many meanings to the question let alone the answer. 

One of the big issues is creating and evaluating value over time, with examples of multi award winning schemes failing the test of value within a few years. Do you value internals or externals? How do you value public and private costs? Too many questions to achieve a common consensus, except perhaps that there is a real exercise to be had in educating us and society as a whole, so that the issue can be better appreciated. And then decision makers will put greater value on the design issue in its own right.

And as a total aside, for me, I was very interested that Tim Garratt, as a valuer, reckoned in building sustainability terms that EPC ratings did influence investors significantly  more than BREEAM evaluation.

Any comments from attendees would be particularly welcome?

Friday, 8 March 2019

Citizen Jane: The battle for the City

Still available for over 3 weeks is this brilliant documentary screened last Monday on i player (BBC 4). I recommend it to everyone.

Jane Jacobs
Like most Planners I had read Jane Jacobs book: "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" at university. Even though it was written well over 50 years ago it is still required reading on planning courses. The book is a critique of 1950s urban planning policy, of tearing down existing houses and tenements and replacing them with high rise developments that have little or no relationship the street. Instead it celebrates  community with layered complexity and seeming chaos in active vibrant streets as the ideal location for human interaction.

The documentary brings all this to life so you really relate to the travails and ultimate successes of Jane as an urban activist in both New York and Toronto.

Of course we have all moved on; 50 years is a long time. Jane's views are now the accepted planning wisdom. The rationalists and the decentralists have been totally discredited. But I just wonder how much have we really learnt. We are still creating grand plans, large ’sustainable urban extensions (SUE), with a monoculture of housing divided by roads and parking. Any different use such as schools and shopping still turn their back on the street.

I asked a student the other day after a university field trip to Upton, Northampton a SUE of up to 15,000 people for his impression. The first thing he said was how lifeless the place was, particularly surprising as it was half-term. I think Jane would still be worried that we still have not got it right.

Jane herself is quoted as defining her three key lessons as:

“A city street equipped to handle strangers, and to make a safety asset, in itself, our of the presence of strangers, as the streets of successful city neighborhoods always do, must have three main qualities:

First, there must be a clear demarcation between what is public space and what is private space. Public and private spaces cannot ooze into each other as they do typically in suburban settings or in projects.

Second, there must be eyes upon the street, eyes belonging to those we might call the natural proprietors of the street. The buildings on a street equipped to handle strangers and to insure the safety of both residents and strangers, must be oriented to the street. They cannot turn their backs or blank sides on it and leave it blind.

And third, the sidewalk must have users on it fairly continuously, both to add to the number of effective eyes on the street and to induce the people in buildings along the street to watch the sidewalks in sufficient numbers. Nobody enjoys sitting on a stoop or looking out a window at an empty street. Almost nobody does such a thing. Large numbers of people entertain themselves, off and on, by watching street activity.”

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

South Africa and All That

This is the first day back in the New Year for me and doubtless many others! And its a bit hard to summon up enthusiasm when lucky for me the break was in South Africa. But I do have reflections on my third visit there?
  1. It was wonderful to be away from the British grey in the warmth, light and blue skies of a beautiful country.
  2. How incredibly friendly and helpful virtually everybody from all races and colours were.
  3. How past race policies continue to mentally scar the country. And that is for both the former ‘oppressors’ and ‘oppressed’.  Not surprisingly, there does seem to be a massive amount of 'baggage' around. And those of Afrikaans background seem to be carrying it more than any other groups.
  4. Major disparities of wealth and power always blight a society and cause problems. UK as much as South Africa. But race makes it so much more obvious in the latter, causing even greater issues. Politicians have to be brilliant to deal with this. Very few can.
  5. And if you want to partake in ‘adventure activities’ in South Africa I can recommend Jean Paul Gardelli c. JoBurg and Sally Petersen c. Cape Town. Great people. Give me a bell.

The iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.