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Festival of the Future City, Bath

Festival of the Future City, Bath

Liveable City debate with Stride Treglown at Festival of the Future City 2017

Festival of the Future City, Bath ran from 19 to 21 October and was a collaborative and entertaining couple of day’s discussing topics and ideas about Bath’s architecture and future cities use and needs. Bath is a UNESCO world heritage city, and prides itself on being an independent, creative, unique and stylish city.

The theme of festival was to shape Bath’s future. Chaired discussions about master planning; improvements to infrastructure, housing and inner city developments was debated through presentations and panel discussions.

The programme began on Thursday 19 October with a walk led by Dr Amy Frost from Bath Preservation Trust with leading architecture writer and critic Owen Hatherley. Later, Stride Treglown opened the debate about what a Liveable City should look like and the audience was invited to comment on their top 3 things they would like to change about living in Bath.

Day two was all about the city of Bath at the Assembly Rooms where the city model was relocated for 24 hours and some of the UK’s most recognised architects discussed preserving utopia and imagining the future of Bath; Alison Brooks, Roz Barr and Jim Heverin were amongst the participants.

The events at Assembly Rooms closed the Friday programme with a keynote lecture from passionate Bath resident and world leading story teller, Ken Loach.

On Saturday, the festival took on a more global feel and the younger generation were encouraged to take part in workshops arranged by The Edge Arts, at the University of Bath. The conversations came from leading thinkers and influences from surrounding architectural industries to discuss strategies for change employed by cities internationally.

Anna Minton explained the importance of learning from the past - keeping public spaces as public spaces, making privatisation a realistic proposition and building more social housing. Alex Vasudevan told us about the history of squatting and the importance of people needing housing and housing needing people. Justin McGuirk explained what had happened in some major cities in Latin America where money was sparse and people were plenty.

The very compelling ‘Artist in the City’, saw an all-female line up looked at alternative approaches to urban spaces and the relationship contemporary art plays in society. Melanie Manchot’s showed a film about a performing troop of artists in Newcastle, through the art of parkour and Rut Blees Luxemburg’s photography installation on dust, rust and decay was a critique of the city of London and a view of buildings normally overlooked. Gayle Chong Kwan’s exciting work in the community showed how art can a have a role on the aesthetic appearance of a place to evoke thought and engagement.

The festival ran for 2 and half days, over 3 venues included 15 guest speakers, contained 25 events and over 800 visitors attended. Belinda Laws, one of the festival's attendees, appreciated the hard work involved in setting it all up:


'All the organisers have done a terrific job of coordinating the events, obtaining speakers of such a high calibre,' Belinda said. 'The event should be repeated annually and become a regular part of Bath's architectural calendar.'

The festival was in conjunction with Bristol ‘Festival of Ideas’ – which aimed to be the largest public debate about the future of cities – bringing together writers, artists, politicians, scientists, academics, journalists, filmmakers and others, exploring key issues for the future of our cities.

These issues included: how we can solve growing inequality and segregation, build healthy cities and places, foster sustainable cities and explore a future of devolved powers.

Festival of the Future City, Bath. Panel debate with Roz Barr, Jim Heverin (Zaha Hadid Architects) and Andrew Vines (Historic England). Image (c) Claire Worthy
Festival of the Future City, Bath. City of Bath model c/o Bath Preservation Trust. Image (c) Claire Worthy
Festival of the Future City, Bath. Talk with Alison Brooks. Image (c) Claire Worthy
Festival of the Future City, Bath. Panel debate with Roz Barr, Jim Heverin (Zaha Hadid Architects), Andrew Vines (Historic England) Image (c) Claire Worthy

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