At 9am on Monday, the newly selected Mayor's Design Advocates, myself included, assembled on the 9th floor of City Hall for induction day. Look no further than developer Martyn Evans if you need a cool compère, or Professor Tony Travers if you want an authority on London. Tony kicked off by reminding us that we used to have borough architects, motivated by the belief that architecture and design can, and does, improve the lives of ordinary people. He talked about London’s reputation for outstanding spaces and buildings, noting that not all have been successful. Then as Jules Pipe (Deputy Mayor, Planning, Regeneration and Skills) took over with the Mayors' vision for Good Growth by Design, the weight of expectation began to sink in.
Over the next hour we heard from a number of the Deputy Mayors, including James Murray on housing. As well as being solidly good individually, they were great together. This isn’t about everyone fighting their own corner (as so often happens) but about working together. I realised that the challenge is less about choosing wisely between competing objectives and more about finding ways to achieve different things at the same time. Streets should be conceived as public spaces; schools can be used community resources at weekends and during the holidays; industry, culture, and housing can co-exist; and cultural opportunities come in many guises.
It was great to get to know some of the other advocates, meet the Mayor's top team and find out more about what the role means. We’ll be researchers, critics and advocates and expected to work hard. Mixed communities, co-production, intensification, affordable housing and health were among the most frequently used words. It feels enormously exciting, professionally and personally, to be involved in the delivery of things I really care about.