26 April 2018
The status of public planning has arguably reached its lowest ebb. Disarmed by decades of deregulation, weakened by funding cuts, and typecast as bureaucratic and obstructive, local authority planning departments have seen their powers increasingly outsourced or contracted out to the private sector. But the Grenfell Tower disaster and collapse of Carillion have raised questions about the risks of putting public planning and construction in private hands. There is a growing consensus that the public sector must now take a more active role in tackling the housing crisis. Against all the odds, a number of pioneering local authorities are delivering some of the best new housing in the country. There are signs that the tide is beginning to turn.
Pooja Agrawal and Finn Williams will present how this context led them to found Public Practice, a social enterprise placing a new generation of planners and architects within government to shape places for the public good. For the first time, they will be joined by associates and authorities taking part in the first cohort to discuss how Public Practice is changing perceptions of planning and improving the quality, and equality, of everyday places.
Pooja Agrawal is co-founder of Public Practice, and works in the GLA Regeneration Team, overseeing strategy, policy and projects in North West London. She previously worked at Publica, We Made That and Studioilse. Pooja is a trustee of the Museum of Architecture, member of Design South East Review Panel, a mentor at the Stephen Lawrence Trust, and a regular guest tutor at architecture universities.
Finn Williams is co-founder and CEO of Public Practice. He previously worked for OMA, General Public Agency, Croydon Council, and the GLA. Finn sits on the RIBA Planning Group, Raynsford Review Task Force, and the ‘Working in the Public Interest’ Advisory Group. He is a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Innovation & Public Purpose, a tutor at the RCA, and was co-curator of the British Pavilion at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale.
Sripriya Sudhakar is an architect, urban designer and urban planning professional with over 17 years of experience in projects including public realm, regeneration, town center development frameworks and master plans both in private and public sector. She heads the Place Shaping Team in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and is responsible for the delivery of design and conservation service in the borough.
Shumi Bose is a teacher, curator and editor based in London. She is Senior Lecturer in Architecture at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and Curator of Exhibitions at the Royal Institute of British Architects. With Finn Williams and Jack Self, Shumi co-curated the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2016. As a graduate of the History and Critical Thinking programme, she also taught at the AA between 2010-17.
Tom Fox is an architect with experience working on projects across architecture, urban design, territorial planning, and environmental activism. Tom recently joined St Albans’ City & District Council as a Principal Planning Officer as part of Public Practice’s programme. In this role, he will be contributing to major residential and employment developments across the City and District.