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How different would cities be if women built them?

By caragh jones, Friday Oct 20, 2017

Inclusion, accessibility, social responsibility and safety were some of the themes that came out of our If Women Built Cities workshop, in partnership with EY, Arup Bristol and Bristol Festival of Ideas.

Chaired by Bristol24/7 Deputy Editor Jess Connett, the panelists developed and shared ideas about city design, making spaces more appropriate for women and the gender gap in industries like architecture and engineering.

Illustrator Jasmine Thompson captured the themes of the evening with a live sketch.

Illustration by Jasmine Thompson

So, would cities be that different?

“We’d focus on the details and see things from a layered perspective,” said Christine Skaar, panellist and Women in Property representative.

Breaking off into small groups, the panellists and audience members worked together to reimagine parts of the city: Castle Park, the Royal Mail Sorting Office near Bristol Temple Meads, Broadmead, the Carriageworks and Redcliffe Quarter.

The room was full of ideas and passion – women of all ages discussed the problems that face not just women but also people with disabilities, and suggested rooftop parks, wider pavements for wheelchairs and buggies, and a lot more street lighting.

Below are the key points from each group.

Castle Park, led by George Taylor, sustainability consultant, Arup Bristol

  • Make better use of the green space and church with pop-ups to accommodate food, art and community events
  • Add seating along the river, and pontoons for access onto the water
  • More pathways throughout with good lighting

Royal Mail Sorting Office, led by Louise Ponting, deputy real estate leader, EY

  • Improve the accessibility of the area so that it can benefit from the footfall of people travelling to and from work and university
  • Use it as a place to showcase Bristol as a destination, so people see the best of Bristol as they arrive and leave the city from Temple Meads
  • Put an urban farm on the roof

Broadmead, led by Cllr Nicola Beech, cabinet member for spatial planning and city design

  • A mixed used facility that is used day and night, to improve the safety of the area and create a night-time economy
  • Add play equipment to the area to help create community space

The Carriageworks, led by Sian Norris, founder and director of Bristol Women’s Literature Festival

  • Create a living-roof with a public garden and allotments
  • Protect the creative and community ethos of the area (keep the cool graffiti!)
  • Make it an open space where it feels safe to walk through

Redcliffe Quarter, led by Christine Skaar, WiP representative, architect and director of KVIST Architecture & Design

  • Create a night-time economy and street-level vibrancy with more shop widows
  • More enterprise-supported community space throughout
  • Improve signage and links to help create landmarks

Look out for a short film from the event on our social media channels. A big thanks to our sponsors EY and Arup for making the event possible.

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