We architects are fascinated by community and how it is created and nurtured. The failure of many of the social housing experiments of the last century, some providing all the necessary tick box elements to create decent places for people to live, work and play demonstrated that this is not necessarily enough to provide the necessary social cohesion and specialness of place that makes a real community and is ultimately so difficult to define and achieve.
We are so lucky here in Blackheath to have a beautiful, historic village centre, great local shops, wonderful green open spaces, good transport links, great housing and streets, art institutions to make it a great place to live and to help create a strong identity providing all the good foundations for a sense of place and community. Events like Blackheath Village Day bring people together to celebrate all of this and like a reconstructive memory help to nurture and cement that sense of community. Without such events it could be so easy for that special feeling to wither away.
On a more personal note, what a privilege to have an opportunity to work with talented artists, musicians, chefs, operations and marketing managers from The Blackheath Halls and The Conservatoire. Working outside of our usual bubble of the construction industry in this way keeps us creative, light-footed and flexible, open to new ideas and ways of thinking and operating. It gives us an opportunity to reflect upon our own sector and practice.