Developers, investors, academics, architects and public sector: Yolanda Barnes, Akeel Malik, Sue Morgan, Piers Taylor and Kate Martin are among the judges for new awards for place
Judges have been announced for the inaugural The Pineapples awards for place, which has a final deadline for entries of this Friday, 17 May.
The Pineapples, sponsored by the Design Council, celebrate the urban life of developments and places where people want to live, work and play. The four categories include completed place, place in progress, contribution to place for individual buildings and meanwhiles, and future place, for masterplans.
The awards are unique because all shortlisted projects are visited by the judges, as well as presented to a live audience at the Festival of Place
The awards are also unique in requiring completed projects to be in use for a minimum of two years before being assessed, in an attempt to judge the life of the place.
The judges include Yolanda Barnes of the Bartlett Real Estate Institute UCL, Martin Reeves, Chief Executive of Coventry City Council, Roisin Willmott, Director of Wales and Northern Ireland, RTPI, and Piers Taylor, Invisible Studio Architects .
Further judges include Akeel Malik, Fund Manager, Urban Splash Residential Fund, Brian Ham, Executive Director of the Development, Home Group, Peter Martin, Group Director – Development, Sanctuary Group, Kate Martin, Director of City Housing, City of Wolverhampton Council, Sue Morgan, Director of Architecture and the Built Environment, Design Council and Ben Adams of Ben Adams Architects.
The judges include
Yolanda Barnes, Chair, Bartlett Real Estate Institute UCL
Martin Reeves, Chief Executive, Coventry City Council
Roisin Willmott, Director of Wales and Northern Ireland, RTPI
Akeel Malik, Fund Manager, Urban Splash Residential Fund
Brian Ham, Executive Director - Development, Home Group
Peter Martin, Group Director – Development, Sanctuary Group
Kate Martin, Director of City Housing, City of Wolverhampton Council
Sue Morgan, Director of Architecture and the Built Environment, Design Council
Ben Adams, Ben Adams Architects
Piers Taylor, Invisible Studio Architects
For more information about The Pineapples awards for place, visit www.festivalofplace.co.uk/thepineapples
The Play Strategy was abandoned in 2010 as one of many government policies sacrificed to austerity. But its vision of radical traffic calming, home zones, safe routes to school, less-segregated play areas and residential streets and estates being the natural domain for playing children – the norm for previous generations – was kept alive, not least by a small group of parents in Bristol.
In 2009, neighbours Alice Ferguson and Amy Rose took matters into their own hands, using temporary street closure by-laws to create regular ‘playing out’ sessions, keeping cars at bay and turning over the whole streetscape to children.
“Around 5,000 children under the age of 16 die or are seriously injured on Britain’s roads each year, and nearly two in three when children are walking or playing”
The Playing Out movement, now led by Ferguson’s community interest company of the same name, is a national phenomenon. More than 800 different communities across the UK have adopted the model, leading to an estimated 24,000 children playing in the streets where they live. Its effectiveness is not lost on Commissioner Longfield, whose report calls for local authorities to support parents using the Playing Out model.
Meanwhile, Ferguson and her colleagues are now calling for planning, housing and highways policy to effect the changes to the built environment and traffic management schemes that would make temporary street closures unnecessary.
Both the success of Playing Out and its insistence that temporary, parent-led street closures are not the long-term solution point to a paradox within the child-friendly city discourse.
Advocates for playable public space and child-friendly infrastructure have often positioned their arguments alongside a critique of modern attitudes to childhood, maintaining that society has become too ‘risk averse’.
But this often confuses a child’s need for ‘risky play’ with the real dangers of the street.
There is good reason to support opportunities for ‘risky play’. Over-caution in the design and management of play space may deprive children of this important element of play, when children seek out challenging experiences for excitement and adventure, enabling them to learn how manage risk for themselves.
One abiding success of the English play strategy was a more enlightened approach to managing risk with children. Good practice is now to weigh up risks and benefits rather than aim for maximum safety at all costs (which, as any child will tell you, makes for a very dull life!).
The campaign against bureaucratic caution in children’s play provision often conflates a risk-averse public sector with ‘paranoid parents’ and ‘helicopter mums and dads’; media memes that suggest modern parents want to ‘wrap their children in cotton wool’.
This is an unwise confusion, one which enables reluctant policymakers to blame parents for children’s retreat from public space.
In reality, the deaths and injuries to young people from road traffic accidents alone are sufficient reason enough to think twice before letting children out unsupervised: around 5,000 children under the age of 16 die or are seriously injured on Britain’s roads each year, and nearly two in three road accidents happen when children are walking or playing (AA Motoring Trust, 2014).
The relationship between parental attitudes, societal norms, public policy and the real-world experience of children and families is sophisticated and nuanced. Progressive discourse is not served by cliché or simplistic solutions. Matters of risk and safety, children’s mobility and their access to public space, are complex, requiring concerted and strategic policy responses.
What Playing Out demonstrates, however, is that blaming parents for ‘battery-reared children’ misses the point. It’s time government, planners, developers and the whole built environment sector tackled the real risks to children in the streets where they live. Parents can’t do it alone.
Adrian Voce OBE is president of the European Network for Child Friendly Cities and the author of Policy for Play (Policy Press, 2015). He is an associate board member for Playing Out CiC and a trustee of the Playwork Foundation.