Panel Discussion at HTA
The evening was introduced by Peter Murray.
The Housing Expo idea originated from Ben Derbyshire who first announced it at the NLA’s The Big Debate: the Next London Plan in January 2017.
Peter Murray and Ben Derbyshire engaged with Deyan Sudjic from the Design Museum, who had been responsible for the 1999 ‘Homes for the Future’ Expo in Glasgow.
The idea of a Housing Expo has GLA support. DCLG has expressed interest and a community Interest Company has been created to run the Expo.
It is hoped the Expo will be for London andthe UK but it will require cities to engage with the CIC.
Deyan Sudjic gave a short overview of the 1999 Glasgow Housing Expo. It was part of the city’s event to widen its reach in terms of arts and design. Originally the Expo would have consisted of 20 extraordinary houses in a row, but it was thought that this would be like a ‘freak’ show. It evolved into a masterplan of 7 blocks and the City worked with a range of architects, including Ian Ritchie and Katherine Findlay. The Expo very much felt like it planted a seed for change in a run-down Glasgow.
Claire Bennie gave an overview of Expos that have taken place elsewhere, explaining that the three key questions should be:
• What is it trying to say?
• Who to?
• Why would they care?
Some very important lessons learned from other Expos include:
• There needs to be simplicity/clarity of theme
• It takes on average 3 to 4 years to plan/deliver an Expo
• Location is important: will it be a single visitor attraction or a range of locations?
• What is the legacy?
Ben Derbyshire gave an overview of the rationale for the Expo as set out in the ‘Expo 2019’ leaflet with the caveat that it had been realised setting a date was foolhardy at this stage, He said the Expo was aiming to achieve positive perceptions of new development by people in a context of:
• an affordability crisis,
• the UK and London being a global centre for excellence for sustainable design quality in the built environment, and
• a call for innovation in the construction industry.
• The need for greater densification
• Its audience was initially thought to be politicians, but it would also be the public and the supply chain.
Jamie Ratcliffe from the GLA expressed the Mayor’s support for the idea of a Housing Expo. Jamie stated that James Murray in particular posed a challenge to the organisers of the Expo to explore desirable density in terms of typologies: finding new forms acceptable to people on infill, small sites and consisting of a mix of uses. It should be all ‘bells and whistles’ but replicable. It should aim to focus on a denser city pleasant to live in.
Ben Derbyshire explained the current envisioned format of the Expo as per the leaflet, consisting of an exhibition and conference in London, a competition with demanding developer briefs and a high bar for innovation and standards - not only to the ‘usual suspects’ - on expo sites which may be master planned/design coded. Ben explained that the programme in the leaflet is likely to be more relaxed.
Peter Murray chaired questions and answers from those in the audience, particularly asking for feedback and to encourage those who would like to volunteer to engage to express it.
David Lunts from the GLA asked (a) what ideas there are to include builders/funders and (b) how younger people will be engaged.