Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Oracle Speaks

Architect Malcolm Fraser enjoying his Caltongate Masterpiece
Photo from SOOT Bloid see more at
The following is from an article entitled Malcolm Fraser objects to Planners full piece here - ArchitectureScotland from 24 Jun 2008
The piece is very confusing, perhaps Malcolm is beginning to realise the errors of his ego but still cannot see he has been part of the problem, ach as Rabbie Burns would say "if only we could see ourselves as others see us"
He says -
"Usually traditional Planners get poor press; but my recent experience of them in Edinburgh, picking their way sure-footedly through the maelstrom of the "Caltongate" process, has left me with great respect for what they can achieve when they are properly-resourced and concentrate on their statutory role. However, where traditional amenity planning should lead, there is now a perception that it is only one of a four-headed monster, made up of often conflicting design leaders."
The only piece where he loves the city`s planners, perhaps because they love his Caltongate masterpiece???

"First, there is the Heritage Lobby: a diverse bunch, ranging from an increasingly-surefooted Historic Scotland through to the toxic wing, led by a desurgent Cockburn Association.
There are significant sections of the lobby that forget that it is architects and master-masons and not them that have led the conception and adornment of this breathtaking city, and believe that design leadership is now somehow theirs."
This is what Malcolm Fraser has said about Malcolm Cooper of Historic Scotland!
"Malcolm is great because he puts himself around, he comes and sees people and he is interested in listening as well as talking."Historic Scotland has changed. The understanding of the value of heritage is evolving, and I welcome their readiness to enjoy good modern work."

And do remember -
Caltongate Developer Manish Chande is a Commissioner of English Heritage as well as being on their finance and business committees. Cooper moved from English Heritage in April 2005 to Historic Scotland. Mountgrange bought the New Street site "known as Caltongate" in late 2004

"New Urbanism is a very different disciple from traditional amenity planning. For all its faults the amenity agenda can be bent to support the things that I care about in building happy communities: sunshine, view, fresh air, gathering places etc." Have a look at your building above Malcolm!!

"The new Dundee waterfront is a New Urbanist "utopia", with its "joined-up" urbanist blocks a solid wall of mediocrity blocking most of the city from the sun glinting off the silty, silvery Tay." Again look at your own buildings!

Then its me, me, me -
"My practice has won the Edinburgh Architectural Association's "Building of the Year" five times in the last ten years and I lecture on the city, on behalf of the city, frequently. On what basis am I to understand that some architect who has - let's say Ð built a couple of hospitals abroad, taken a Planning course and been appointed as an Edinburgh Design Planner, should lord-it over me, secure in his superiority?"

"The last big issue is how the Council procures its own work. My practice regularly wins work from other authorities but has not, to date, been able to from our own city. Scotland's three Stirling finalists reside in Edinburgh, but we three have submitted maybe forty times for work and have never even been shortlisted. (On a project like the Grassmarket, which I was instrumental in initiating, and even raised finance for, the "reason" I was given for not making the OJEU second stage being the truly-numbing "...that we lacked experience in the historic built-environment of the Old Town".) "
Currently Allan "award winning architect" Murray gets all the jobs, why? see earlier postings on this wee man fae New Town Glenrothes.

"These are all reasons for Edinburgh to change its behaviour; but there are also reasons to believe that this might happen. What I would like to see (at both local and national level) is our Heads of Planning concentrating on doing their own job a bit better, and getting their tanks off our lawn."
Fighting talk Malcolm!

"We also need to rid ourselves of our planning obsession with what things look like, and care instead about how they work - concentrating on getting our infrastructure right before we start to think about how to form buildings and space to suit our aspirations, rather than making re-heated Victoriana our starting point." Well this says it all Malcolm!

And now he`s really getting cross -

"And somebody needs to audit the performance of Design Champions and identify the best model while, in Edinburgh, Farrell and Marini need to learn how to be useful. (I note that Council Leader, Jenny Dawe, has asked for better links to Planning in Farrell`s second term, but I believe that much more work is needed to cement that relationship)."

Now he gets Dave Anderson is a high flyer from the Oil Industry...just the man eh Malcolm!

The best news is that we have a new Director of City Development, Dave Anderson, and are soon to get a new Head of Planning, and we have to believe that they will bring a fresh perspective to bear: re-assert and resource traditional Planning, utilise our creative talent, bring the Design Champion into useful play, invest small sums wisely and create the framework necessary to reinvigorate our city.