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Editorial Vol. 35 No. 3

Abstract
By : Nicholas Wilkinson

 
Nabeel Hamdi's new book The Placemakers' Guide to Building Community (ISBN 978-1-84407-803-5) published by Earthscan is a very useful book which should be on the shelves of every person involved in building communities and the art of development practices. The outside back cover has a number of short statements which reveal that Nabeel has made a place for himself at the pinnacle of participatory planning and ".….has masterfully woven together notions of place making that have evolved since John Turmer's book, Housing by People, into a new paradigm for professional practice" says Bish Sanyal, Ford International Professor of Urban Development and Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. " He starts with a Prologue with reference to how our combined work at the Architectural Association, London and later at the Greater London Council actually started and developed. For a synopsis of that period read pages xiii to xv . If it can be regarded as a success story which I think it was, it was to a large extent due to a series of coincidences brought about by our own enthusiasm for what we were doing. As Nabeel stated in his prologue it was by chance that Kenneth Campbell of the Greater London Council (GLC) telephoned the AA , the call got diverted to us in Chings yard whereby Nabeel picked up the phone and invited him to our presentation and dinner to the Minister of Housing that evening. It was Campbell who later took our ideas and proposals into the GLC for implementation. Things developed from there into TV Omnibus, Life is Right the Architect is Wrong, professional journals, national newspapers, glossy Sunday supplements and the good old London daily the Evening Standard, headlined on their third page "Don't be Driven up the Wall just move it." Later into the seventies Nabeel went to the United States and I to the Netherlands both of us to research and teach. But the period of time we worked together (roughly 1967-1972) created a partnership which could shift mountains and blaze trails, for the sake of better metaphors. Now some thirty years later (and by no means not entirely due to us) local authority social housing and housing associations produce a new landscape of housing which is usually 3-4 stories and of a human scale with opportunities and possibilities for users to be considered as partners in the housing process. Some Danish examples out of TBA International (Time Based Architecture) in 2008 in the first volume, The Danish Dwelling, March 1988 show the degree to which city infill housing meets peoples requirements at a human scale with courtyard blocks and balconies creating a green and peaceful milieu. Unit sizes come in a wide range in one block. Other important features which can be found in more than one of the projects shown in this TBA Vol.1 are the collection of items for infill units ranging from detachable bathroom units, kitchens, partitioning and façade systems. These detachable items are all part of the technological development which has been going for more than a decade. This silent revolution has brought us a more useable and adaptable architecture which lead to structures which can grow old yet internally can be easily updated.
Nicholas Wilkinson (This Vol. 1 of TBA is still available and can be purchased at 10.00 sterling a copy from Carol Punton at openh@hotmail.co.uk) Other copies still available are Vol.2 From Typological to Time Based, Vol.3 Mixed Living and Working Programmes. Vol.4 (out of print). Vol.5 Time Based Architecture in China. Vol.6 Urban Edges Transformed. Vol.7 Time Based Barcelona.

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