1

REPORT BY ISC/U+L TO INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL MEETING AT 2010 MEXICO CITY CONFERENCE

Pilot Fiches/New Town Inventorisation project

  • This project was carried out by Jessica Taylor, who reported on it at the meeting. The area/sub-area fiches, totalling some 200, had been completed and were awaiting editing. Jessica felt that the project had shown the limits of a manual system: any further detail (eg integrated mapping) would require a digital format.
  • Suggestions in the follow-up discussion included: (1) inclusion of information on threat should be a priority in any enhancement; (2) choices might have to be made between record- and conservation-orientated inventorisation; (3) the links with North Lanarkshire Council for ECA’s Area Conservation module (studying Cumbernauld) could allow heritage-management and policy implications to be tested out.

Pilot ‘Tower Block’ project on on-line inventorisation and website on mass housing

  • The ‘Tower Block’ project (supported by English Heritage), carried out in May-December 2009 with Ellen Creighton as researcher, was intended as a possible template for a digital-based extension of Jessica’s manual survey: Ellen gave the meeting an extensive demonstration of the system in action from her wireless laptop. Linked directly to the national English and Scottish archive systems, it involved building up a complex map-based (GIS) database on post-1945 mass housing in Scotland and Northern England, including scanned images of hundreds of sites, and statistical data. It also involved coping with sharply differing procedures in the two national institutions.  Since September 2009, a website to disseminate the information (www.towerblock.org) has been set up in skeleton form, and several hundred sites created, amounting to a significant regional database of mass housing in eastern Scotland and northern England.  DOCOMOMO members are invited to take a look at the pilot website.
  • The Tower Block survey points to several future possibilities for DOCOMOMO U+L. Firstly, it might itself act as a digital pilot inventorisation project to follow Jessica’s manual pilot project. Secondly, it might open up the way to a wider international survey of mass housing (see Document 2).

Potential international survey of mass housing, and associated contacts in Hong Kong and Singapore on formation of DOCOMOMO working parties

  • Initial moves are underway to put together an international survey of mass housing under the auspices of the Committee. Research could be carried forward aided by a research grant, or using volunteer researchers within DOCOMOMO national groups. As part of preliminary research for this project, Miles had gone on trips to a variety of mass housing centres, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Warsaw, Copenhagen, and Riga (on a lightning day trip from London, hosted by Janis Krastins), to begin establishing the viability of collaborative research and field recording for such a project.
  • Discussions are underway with EAHN (European Architectural History Network) with a view to collaboration on this subject, possibly focusing on an ‘East/West’ or ‘cold war’ analysis of mass housing, and with a view to holding a conference in 2011.
  • As part of his mass housing research contacts, Miles had established contact with potential DOCOMOMO groups in China (Shanghai), Hong Kong/Macao and Singapore; these were being followed up and (as at July 2010) the China-Shanghai group seemed likely to put in a formal proposal at the Mexico conference.

Conferences: ‘South City’ conference in Edinburgh, 22/23 January 2009, and ‘Mirror of Modernity’, 1/2 May 2009

  • The ‘South City’ ISC/U+L Conference on Southern Hemisphere Modernism, held at the University of Edinburgh on January 22-23 2009, had been very successful and an e-journal of the proceedings had just been put together by the Docomomo Secretariat. Likewise, e-proceedings were published for the joint ISC/U+L and AHSS conference, “Mirror of Modernity”, on 1-2 May 2009: the conference had, in effect, balanced the DOCOMOMO U+L agenda of a synthesizing international overview with a national case-study drawn from Scotland.
  • At the ‘South City’ conference, Ola Uduku inaugurated a new ‘Docomomo South’ forum to help proselytize DOCOMOMO activities in developing countries where experts might find the costs of attending regular DOCOMOMO conferences excessive. Subsequent to September 2009, Ola attended the Archiafrika / African Perspectives conference and ‘spread the word’ further.

Landscape policy review and international cross-comparisons (including Chandigarh links)

  • Jan Haenraets’s Ph.D on MoMo landscape policy was successfully completed and passed in spring 2010, following which Jan now intends to proceed with a planned review of international MoMo landscape conservation policy for U+L.  He reported at the September 2009 meeting that he had travelled to India and linked up with committee member Parmeet Bhatt at Chandigarh.  Following a tour of Chandigarh, Jan and Parmeet felt there was definite scope for collaboration, especially linking up with Parmeet’s research into how change had affected the Chandigarh master plan.  Other committee members agreed with Jan that important links between landscapes and urbanism could be drawn from the experience of Chandigarh and other modernist planned cities.  This might be the basis of a funded research project or a PhD research topic; it might also develop into an area of interest for an International specialist community looking at other modernist cities globally.
  • At the September meeting, Miles suggested that new planned towns and cities might make a very straightforward and valuable ISC/U+L ‘homework’ task in a future year (Hannah Lewi had asked him to emphasise at this meeting the suggestion that ISC/U+L might begin contributing to the setting of DOCOMOMO International homework tasks in the future).

Interim review of Plan of Action 2008-10

  • At the September 2009 meeting, it was agreed that the 2008-10 Plan of Action had been effectively implemented. The following emphases were agreed for 2010-12:
    • Tower Block Project should be developed into a Stage 2 (Digital) Pilot Project on inventorisation for ISC U + L.
    • Further progress on setting up the international survey of public housing
    • Further contacts with China, Hong Kong and Singapore aimed at stimulating the setting-up of new DOCOMOMO working parties.
    • Proposed landscape policy review (Jan) and joint study on Chandigarh and other new cities (Jan, Parmeet)

Miscellaneous matters reported at the September 2009 ISC/U+L meeting:

  • Miles reported the recent contact from committee member Ahmed el-Hariri regarding the forthcoming Agadir conference in February 2010: the committee agreed that all possible help should be offered, including publicity, and help with any follow-up publication.
  • Miles also reported on the highly successful concluding conference, ‘Keeping the Past Public’, that he had attended in Melbourne in February. Partly under a DOCOMOMO umbrella, it had synthesised the results of a highly diverse nationwide inventory of public buildings.
  • Miles also passed on a message from Hannah Lewi that there will be a planned special issue of the Journal of Architecture, UK coming out of that event on the subject of conserving and documenting public modern places, in 2010. Hannah had also informed Miles of a joint Docomomo / icomos Australia conference run in Sydney recently called (Un)loved Modern – with some specifically urban and landscape sessions. Details would be uploaded to the Icomos Australia site shortly: http://www.aicomos.com/