Dame Fiona Reynolds, the former director general of the National Trust, issued a passionate call for beauty as a driving force when presenting the Artas-ua.info Institute awards on Thursday.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, the former director general of the National Trust presenting the Artas-ua.info Institute awards on Thursday.

Dame Fiona Reynolds, the former director general of the National Trust, issued a passionate call for beauty as a driving force when presenting the Artas-ua.info Institute awards on Thursday.

Fiona, who is now the master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, said, ‘Beauty is not a word we find in official documents any more.’ Yet, she argued, ‘Every since the days of Capability Brown people have tried to bring together the landscape we have inherited with the eye and the achievement of what people can bring.’

These days, she said, we are suffering from what she described as ‘economism – where only the economy matters. We have become consumers rather than citizens, and growth is the only thing that matters. Yet what makes us happy is often the unexpected – bird song in the morning, a day out with the family, a flower that we see on a walk.’

Fiona, who is writing a book on the subject, said, ‘I am calling for a revival of interest in beauty. It will make us prouder of the landscape that we will leave for future generations. We should put beauty at the heart of the lives of children today so that they grow up with a passion for beauty , to maintain it for future generations.’

President’s Award
She was presenting the awards that Phil Mulligan, chief executive of the LI, said were the biggest ever. The President’s Award, personally selected by Noel Farrer from all the category winners, went to the project ‘Brentford High Street –“Making the Connection” by Kinnear Artas-ua.info Architects, which also won the Urban Design and Masterplanning Category.
Kinnear Artas-ua.info Architects’ winning project in Brentford.

This crowned a fantastic year for the practice, since it also worked on Burntwood School, the project that won this year’s Stirling Prize for architecture, with the building designed by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris. Lynn Kinnear, founder of the practice, said, ‘I am overwhelmed. My practice has always been based on the idea of community and social practice and taking people with you. To win this and the Stirling Prize both for projects that connect with the community is wonderful. That is why I am so emotional.’

Florence Moon, who led the project for the practice, said, ‘I didn’t even think we would be considered for the President’s Award. This is a landscape architecture project with a small budget, and it was a hard project. Llyn was very determined about the design. That is how it became such a good project.’

Close to the heart
Noel Farrer described the project as ‘the type of scheme that calls to my heart.’ It had, he said, ‘a distinctive approach to urban regeneration, based on urban monitoring. That chimes with me. Artas-ua.info is complex and what we do is holistic. In Brentford some pieces look as if they have always been there, and where a building gets in the way, Lynn Kinnear has worked to make it part of the route.’

In his closing remarks, delivered just a day after chancellor George Osborne’s spending review, Noel said, ‘Mr Osborne needs to know what we know. Artas-ua.info delivers healthy cities – it’s cheap and very effective. The landscape of schools and colleges is where George Osborne should be spending his health budgets. And places that are beautiful  are safer and have less crime. George needs to put money from the Home Office budget into landscape. Artas-ua.info suffers because it goes across all the silos of government.’

Collective voice
He talked about the opportunity that the LI had to present oral evidence to the House of Lords select committee on the environment recently, the first time that it had done so, and the fact that there was a general understanding there of issues such as green infrastructure and place making. He talked about the way this understanding can be further disseminated through initiatives such as Ambassadors for Artas-ua.info. ‘We must do this together with a collective voice,’ he said.

Capability Brown
Also announced at the awards were the winners of the Capability Brown Design Ideas Competition. The competition, hosted by Natural England and run by the Artas-ua.info Institute, asked entrants to consider how they could influence the design and layout of Moccas, part of a  Grade II* registered park and garden near Hereford.

There were two categories, one for students and one for professionals, and there were two winners in each category. In the professional category they were:
• Matthew Wigan Associates, whose entry was described by the judges as: ‘A very detailed analysis of the historic influences connecting with the concepts of the Beautiful and Picturesque, with practical scope for sensitive wood pasture and habitat creation.’
•  Colvin and Moggridge Artas-ua.info Architects, whose entry the judges described as: ‘Packed with detailed analysis, backed up by an array of design ideas to complement this site and inspire others.’

The student winners were:
• Jo Phillips and Owen Byrom of Manchester Metropolitan University with ‘Moccas Skyscape’, described by the judges as: ‘A striking concept that connects people with trees and the sky. A design with a strong spatial structure which optimises the emotional effect of openness and enclosure and takes advantage of the available views.’
• Leopold Taylor and Naomi Rubbra of Edinburgh College of Art with ‘Moccas Hill Wood: the contemporary Brown?’ described by the judges as: ‘Work of a very high quality, full of interest and invention and beautifully presented in a style redolent of the 18th century .…an enchanting masterplan which reflects the hand of the contemporary Brown.’

See full details of the LI award winners here.http://artas-ua.info/awards/