On October 9th, Arts Taunton, in association with RIBA Somerset and Somerset West & Taunton Council, hosted the “Build it Beautifully” charrette in Taunton town centre. A hundred delegates from across the county took part in workshops and presentations, highlighting the vital importance of design in achieving a successful urban landscape.
As well as aiming to raise awareness of, and promote, good design, the event connected stakeholders who may not often have been round the same table. Representatives from many of the leading house-builders, arts institutions, wildlife groups, schools, community groups and landscape management teams were present, along with familiar faces from the SW&T, Highways Agency, RIBA and Arts Taunton itself.
Speakers included Richard Guise, who is leading the Council’s Design Guide (due to go out to consultation next year) and who made a powerful case for local building materials and human scale; David Milner, of Create Streets, who brought a wealth of statistics showing that high-density, beautiful streetscapes were popular, successful and achievable; and Julian Glover, author of the recent review into National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, who discussed how Taunton could make more of the famous designated landscapes on its doorstep.
Arts Taunton believes that the design process must include not only architects and their clients but local people – and that they must be involved from the very start of the process. We hope this charrette will kick-start a Taunton-wide interest and appreciation of design in all future Garden Town plans.
Our thanks to Mark Raby, Juliet Bidgood and Catherine Gandon at RIBA and to Cllr Federica Smith of SW&T for their help and support in making the charrette so successful. You can also read the report from the Taunton Chamber of Commerce here.