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09/09/2015

Public spaces paper wins top RTPI research award

Words: Simon Wicks
Granary Square, London

A London academic’s study challenging perceptions about the privatisation of public space in the capital has picked up a top prize at the RTPI Awards for Research Excellence.

RTPI research awards logoUniversity College London professor Mathew Carmona’s paper argues that the complex ownership patterns of publicly accessible space “defy any overly restrictive view of what public space should be”.

In Re-theorising Contemporary Public Space (PDF), Carmona says people’s experiences of using privately owned public space in the capital is often more positive than is acknowledged in many of the reports and writings addressing the topic.

The academic, who teaches in UCL's Bartlett School of Planning, mapped 130 spaces and interviewed 650 people for the study. While acknowledging issues around restrictions in some spaces, he concluded that private ownership of public space can sometimes be a catalyst for renewal of neglected spaces.

“Public space today is no longer (if it ever was) straightforwardly either open and public or closed and private, but is instead full of complexity and contradictions that defy any overly restrictive view of what public space should be,” Carmona writes, concluding: “London as a whole looks set to continue on its merry, fragmented, ad hoc, public and private way.”

“Students and academics in our accredited planning schools are working on very relevant research which will make a difference”

Carmona picked up the Academic Award, one of four given out at a ceremony on the South Bank today (9 September). Other awards were given to:

- planning student Emma Thorpe of Cardiff University for her work looking at attitudes to active commuting among school students;

- Dr Paul Cowie of Newcastle University and collaborators for their use of theatre to understand how people engage with planning processes; and

- Dr Mick Lennon of University College Dublin for his study of the use of ecosystem services in land use planning.

The awards highlight the best spatial planning research with clear implications for policy and practice coming out of RTPI-accredited planning schools each year. This year saw a record number of entries across four categories and, said judges, a very high standard of work.

"The RTPI’s awards for research excellence are an important way of increasing the links between practice and research,” said RTPI president Janet Askew. “I am delighted to see that this research, often carried out in conjunction with practitioners and communities, really can make an impact to create better places.

“By recognising this, we can show government and the public that students and academics in our accredited planning schools are working on very relevant research which will make a difference.”


RTPI Research Excellence Awards 2015: The winners

 

Academic Award, sponsored by Routledge Journals, Taylor & Francis Group

Winner: Professor Matthew Carmona, The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London – Re-theorising Contemporary Public Space: A New Narrative and a New Normative

Highly commended: Professor Matthew Carmona, The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London – London’s Local High Streets: The Problems, Potential and Complexities of Mixed Street Corridors

Highly commended: Professor Bo-sin Tang, and Dr Winky K.O. Ho, Department of Urban Planning and Design, The University of Hong Kong – Land-use Planning and Market Adjustment Under De-industrialization: Restructuring of Industrial Space in Hong Kong


Early Career Researcher Award, sponsored by Routledge Journals, Taylor & Francis Group

Winner: Dr Mick Lennon, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin – The Utilization of Environmental Knowledge in Land Use Planning: Drawing Lessons for an Ecosystem Services Approach. This paper was co-authored with Dr Richard Cowell, School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University.

Highly commended: Dr Linda Fox-Rogers, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin – Informal Strategies of Power in the Local Planning System. This paper was co-authored with Dr Enda Murphy, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin.


Student Award, sponsored by The Idox Information Service

Winner: Emma Thorpe, School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University – Getting Wales Active: Exploring Secondary School Students’ Attitudes Towards Active Commuting

Highly commended: Andrew Dowell, Urban Studies, University of Glasgow – An Investigation of Public Realm Provision, in Particular Shared Public Space, within Urban Waterfront Regeneration and Analysis of Success with Reference to Two Clyde Riverside Areas


Sir Peter Hall Award for Wider Engagement, sponsored by The Idox Information Service

Winner: Dr Paul Cowie, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University – The Town Meeting

Highly commended: Dr Lee Crookes, Dr Andy Inch, Marion Oveson, Jason Slade, Department of Town and Regional Planning, University of Sheffield, and Tracey Hawley-Kirkby, Vice-chairperson, Westfield Big Local – The Westfield Action Research Project

IMAGE | MATT KIEFFER

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