Each fortnight we round-up some of the latest news, research, and reports that are shaping our thinking. These are things that have led to an interesting conversation at Design Council HQ.  Add to the conversation in the comments below.  

The future of future cities  

Once every twenty years, the UN hosts its Habitat Conference – where countries gather to think about the urban design of future cities.  Habitat 2 took place in 1996 whilst England were being knocked out of the Euros on penalties; Habitat 3 took place last week. 

The most important people in the world have been busy agreeing that good design is essential (glad they agree).  The discussions varied: from debating the definition of a city, to making more climate-friendly toilets.  Luckily we’ve got until 2036 to catch up on everything we missed.

Designing for not-quite-everyone

A little closer to home, the impact of bad design has been a hot topic.  The Equalities Select Committee has stated that the built environment “still creates barriers for many disabled people”, following a major inquiry.  We agree.  You can read all the responses to the inquiry, including Design Council’s, here.

Meanwhile, a Parliamentary office has helpfully pulled together all the evidence related to green space and health.  The headline is: green space is very important for health.  Unfortunately, access to it is not evenly distributed, and poor people get the worst deal.  Meanwhile, the CLG committee are looking at access to public parks, against fears that they’re under threat. 

Design decline

In education, the Crafts Council have published their 2016 Studying Craft report, which repeats our warning about the decline in the number of students taking Design and Technology courses. 

The same data is included in a report by ex-arts minister Lord Baker, who also lists the areas of D&T most under threat.  The biggest relative decline has been in ‘Systems and Control Technology’, which has fallen by 47% since 2009; though many will be more concerned by the drops in the larger courses, such as Resistant Materials. Lord Baker’s solution is a new Baccalaureate which includes D&T.  The proposals got short shrift in parliament last week

Other interesting things we read this week:

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