“The Milton Keynes presentation was incredibly thorough and detailed and the extent of the research was admirable. However, my main concern is the failure of the unit to acknowledge and respond to issues of density, which is one of the most important issues facing architects, planners and urban designers, in the pursuit of place making.
It is difficult for me to comment without a fuller understanding of the unit direction, the base thinking and ultimate aims, so all of which I mention should be taken with a little pinch of salt. That aside, my own feelings were clearly aired in the discussion.
I do not believe low density, sub-urban development is the way forward at all.
I have significant reservations also about the idea that it is inevitable and perhaps ‘the most successful typology for housing and planning’.
The problems with comparing the relative ‘success(s)’ of inner city areas and further outlying lower density zones is too generic – specificity is the key here. There are always likely to be successful and less successful aspects of both, but they are doing very different things, accommodating greater variations of living and working.
Consider if you will the example of Milton Keynes, which I contest has a wholly negative image. As a garden city, it is perhaps one of the most successful examples of its kind, and revered by many architects and urban thinkers. However, its long term survival and success is the subject of ongoing investigation, and subsequently there are plans to ‘densify’ areas of the city.
Perhaps a different view point, when you pose the question ‘Learning from Milton Keynes’ is not to be so blindly accepting of it as an inevitability, or indeed a working case study.
I would be more minded to generate a balanced argument, drawing upon its uniqueness as a modernist suburban city (still waiting for city status), its antipathy of attitude in the context of the wider urban renaissance debate (the fact that things that are pejorative outside of Milton Keynes – suburbia, minimalism, underpasses, grid roads – are here defended trenchantly), its vast open faceless empty spaces in comparison with the renaissance drive for ‘place making’, and its unacceptable reliance upon the car for survival.”