Incremental Urbanism workshop with StourValleyArts and Ashford Borough Council

The 'Incremental Urbanism Workshop' explored the themes and strategies investigated and deployed in the design thesis and was evaluated by members of Ashford Borough Council (including Mark Chaplin, the Principal urban designer of Ashford Borough Council) and members of STOURVALLEYARTS (an independent group) . A workshop/consultation meeting had been set up which instigated a conversation and debate about how temporary spaces and strategies could catalyse urban activity and re-generation, how StourValleyArts wish to instigate change in Ashford, aid arts and culture in the town and how incremental urbanism could be an alternative to conventional masterplanning.
The event began with a presentation about a temporary landscape, the design thesis agenda and invited members participated in a series of exercises listing and drawing ideas which were then exchanged verbally.
The Design thesis is a critique of the existing masterplan established for Ashford. Modernist urban planning principles have dominated urban planning in Ashford since the post-war era, which led to the strict separation of land uses, resulting in Ashford becoming a patchwork of monofunctional islands. Since neo-liberal post modern urban planning of the 70’s and 80’s attempts at reversing monofunctionalism and creating a more mixed use context have failed.
The current masterplan, including that of BDP architects at Elwick Place shares the same fundamental urban planning rules of the post modern era aiming to create a more dense and hybrid environment. However, the masterplan is failing to become realised and an alternative form of urbanism needs to be deployed, namely incremental urbanism.
Incremental urbanism (an ‘anti-masterplan’) sheds large scale masterplanning techniques, multi-national investors and dissolves the power of top-down decision makers. Independent groups and small scale investors will occupy Elwick Place and expand their activities which would lead to social and programmatic diversity creating a rich urban environment for the public.
The final report will be presented to the Principal urban designer of Ashford, councillors and members of StourValleyArts for future use.
This workshop forms part of the thesis of Pierre Devlin, Graduate Diploma Architecture