Urban Forecast x Pinch Yourself

Back in May, I had the very welcome opportunity to sit down for a chat with Oliver Lowrie, Director of architecture firm Ackrowyd Lowrie. He is also a host, along with his business partner, Jon Ackroyd, of Urban Forecast podcast. For a couple of months, Oliver and I had been thinking about a podcast mashup - and it finally happened!

Oliver gave me way too much airtime, and let me jabber on - but I appreciate it because I rarely get to be the jabberer. We talked about the interaction between planners and architects, inside and outside the planning process; the conversations that add value to our work; where we find our work values and - dare I say - reform-ish ideas.

Oliver was very generous to let me share many reflections.

The question that stuck with me is how planners and architects should engage on a proposal… I think I got it right that there’s a limit to how much planners can instruct an applicant on what to do (if the planning policy is written well, there should be some good clues there), but I do think there’s an essential practice when a planner and applicant come together that I didn’t mention. At the start of engagement, planners and applicant teams should establish shared principles. These form a foundation for the whole pre-application process, and can be returned to, referred to and checked as the proposal progresses. It’s a very positive start and sets a constructive tone.

Also, I said about feeling naive about some of the early messaging for Pinch Yourself, You’re a Planner - may have overstated this. I still think we need to clear our brains of all the dispiriting distractions in our profession and remember that our calling has a greater purpose. For sure! Absolutely! I’m admitting that it’s not always easy, and that’s fine, too.

Really enjoyed speaking to Oliver. Maybe next time I won’t be so selfish. Ackroyd Lowrie does a terrific job of bringing built environment voices together through Urban Forecast and the Breakfast Club Briefing series. And they’re friends of planners.