Chris Lamb is the director of Kent Architecture Centre, an independent, not-for-profit organisation, based at Historic Dockyard Chatham. Kent Architecture Centre wants to help build a better built environment and provides opportunities for people of all ages to play a role in shaping their neighbourhoods, open spaces and the architecture that surrounds them.
Kent Architecture Centre was founded in 1994 by a number of local authorities, the Historic Dockyard Trust and the University of Greenwich with the purpose of raising the quality of the built environment during a period of investment and regeneration in north Kent. Its range was later extended throughout Kent and into East Sussex. Until the recession, Kent Architecture Centre received a lot of local authority commissions and public funding but is now partly self-funding, through a social enterprise model, and partly reliant upon grants.
The organisation enables local people to have a say in how new schools and community centres are designed, brings top national and international designers to north Kent, helps councillors and MPs understand the value of design, and offers independent design advice and assistance to residents, planning authorities and those responsible for creating the built environment across the south and south east of England. The temporary transformation of public spaces, through the Places from Spaces programme, left a legacy of better connections between universities and local authorities and many other new networks have been created as a result of the centre’s projects.
Kent Architecture Centre, with support from Arts Council England, Kent County Council and Medway Council, developed the Urban Fringe pilot research programme, which aimed to strengthen the role of artists and local people in “placemaking”. Placemaking is a way of planning, designing and managing public spaces by focusing on the local community, and four artists, Simon Barker, Nayan Kulkarni, Jo Roberts and Stephen Turner, engaged with residents in areas of Swale and Medway to help them capture and celebrate the uniqueness of the area through their work.
Collaborating with the University of Kent, the Crafts Council and Chatham Historic Dockyard, Kent Architecture Centre developed a project called Placemaking, which encouraged artists and architects to share their skills and techniques and develop new ways of working together. The project ran for three days in March 2012 and took place within the dockyard.
Kent Architecture Centre, on behalf of Medway Council and Land Securities, put together a panel of placemaking professionals to oversee the 5,000-dwelling, mixed-use Lodge Hill development being built north of the River Medway. The panel will advise on the layout and design of architecture and public spaces as the project develops over the next 10 to 15 years.
For more information please visit http://architecture-centre.org