Tag Archives: view

On the couch…

Watch Mick being interviewed here on That’s Manchester our briliant new local television station…

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Preview…

Here are two shots of Passport Office. I think it might be finished now. Built around the carcass of a kitchen cupboard I found in a skip.  Most of the over skin is made of found objects painted with textured external paint. If you look closely you will find some small figures standing on the roof.

The name is a reference to Apollo House in Croydon which used to be the UK Passport Office. Built in the late 60’s it too has a wonderful wing on its roof.

Passport office 2Passport office

3 months in…

Today MTUD has been in business three months. It’s going well.

Being back in the city I have made contact with all my old friends, collaborators and colleagues. The new office is great too and I have made friends with barista in the new Albert Square Costa…

Projects are growing. I am working on an interesting strategy for Sandwell Country Park with the Leisure Consultancy, which seems to be leading to more work focusing on concept making and feasibility work.

I am also back designing churches with a nice project in Chorlton.

I am also out, giving talks and workshops. Last month saw me leading a workshop on well being at Lancaster University and next week I am giving a talk entitled Happy by Design for the NW Region RTPI event, ‘Planning for a Healthy Future’, at BDP on well-being and place making. This will be the first time I have put together well being as set out by the New Economics Foundation and place making design tactics…watch this space.

I have finally joined the establishment too. I have just been elected an Urban Academician (about time too) and then directly got roped in as local helper.  I have also become an Affiliate of the RTPI and an Ambassador for Placed based in Liverpool.

I am still drawing and making too. Here is the view from drawing table…

City view

Be prepared…

brian-eno_1355749cHere is one of my heroes talking about ideas and work. Having ideas is not about waiting for inspiration to start. It’s about keeping your eyes open and having what Brian calls a ‘prepared mind’, that will notice things, see things, recognise opportunities when they appear. And they appear all the time. The effort required is simply the need to open oneself up to new things…seeing new relationships etc. No amount of analysis, or ‘doing things because we think we ought to’, will help you open, observant or productive.  I like the fact that Brian says we need to ‘surrender’ to the idea, to the work…. become the work and put any ideas of ownership or ego behind you…. very yogic, and very productive.

Enthusiasm is the key says Brian.  Its infectious but also helps drive forward ideas and solutions. Of course timing and luck is everything as well as a good dose of talent but if you are open, observant and enthusiastic the timing and luck will fall into place…

Its all about the space…

The point about ‘feeling’ a sense of place is intuitively knowing where your place is and what defines it. Most of the time its about boundaries, event, time, enclosure and views. A great example of this can be seen in the painting. ‘A Courtyard of a House in Delft’. Pieter de Hooch (1658). I use this a lot. Just look at how its implied perspective draws you the view into its world. The painting describes space, which spans from the courtyard (from your point of view) through the entrance hall, onto the street outside, across the canal, the next street and then into the opposite house. The view is terminated by another viewer looking out across the street and canal back to us.

Importantly, that space is shaped and defined by a number of events, which in turn changes the character of that space from private to public. From the courtyard to the street. This is key. Notice the threshold, the figure at the doorway in silhouette marking the transition between public and private.  The core however is the woman and child in the foreground. They are the event around which everything happens. It’s quiet, domestic and intimate. A domestic task but against the backdrop of the city.

In this one place/event is everything you need to know about place making. Places don’t exist unless we inhabit them, and we do this through action in space/event. This is the real stuff. If you are ever stuck trying to describe defensible space…. then this is the painting for you.

You can see the original painting in the National Gallery. Trafalgar Square. I go at least once a year. There is always something new to discover.