Full text: ARCH+ : Studienhefte für architekturbezogene Umweltforschung und -planung (1968, Jg. 1, H. 1-4)

Peter Cowan 
OFFICE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT IN A 
LARGE CITY 
Peter COWAN, Dozent an der Bartlett School of Archi- 
tecture, Partner im Planungs- u. Beratungsbüro Llewelyn- 
Davies, Vorsitzender d, Arbeitsgruppe f. Developing 
Patterns of Urbanisation, Centre for Environmental Studies, 
Direktor der Joint Unit for Planning Research des Universi- 
ty College, London, u.d. London School of Economics. 
(Deutsche Zusammenfassung siehe S.16 ) 
Introduction 
This paper describes some research which was carried out 
at the Joint Unit for Planning Research of the University 
of London, between 1964 and 1967. A full account of 
this work will be published by Messrs, Heinemann during 
1969; so that the present paper only sketches in the 
outlines of the work. However, | hope it will be 
sufficient to give a general idea of our approach. 
Imagine that all the buildings in the city were arrayed 
before us, in a single line. We should see an immense 
variety of structures of all kinds, shapes and sizes. Some 
of these buildings will be suitable for only a very few 
activities, Concert halls, for example, are really only 
able to accomodate a small variety of activities. Other 
buildings can house a variety of activities. Georgian 
town houses may be used by single families, flats, small 
offices, factories or many other activities, Thus we might 
re-arrange our array of accomodation so that at one 
extreme we have very "highly specialized" accomodation 
while at the other end of the array there are buildings 
which can house a great variety of activities, they are 
"non specialized". 
We could arrange the activities of the city in a similar 
fashion. We could identify those activities requiring a 
very special kind of accomodation such as symphony 
concerts, and those which are much less "specialized" in 
their requirements; for example offices can be 
accomodated in new office blocks, old houses or many 
other building types. 
We have erected two arrays. On one hand we have an 
array of buildings, while on the other an array of 
activities. In one way or another these two arrays match 
each other, and the degree of fit between them offers 
us some measure of the working efficiency of the city. 
Each of the arrays is continually growing and changing, 
both as a whole and in the balance between the parts, 
and the arravs do not chanae at the same rate. 
The array of buildings or structural stock changes as new 
buildings are constructed, existing ones adapted, and 
old ones demolished and replaced. The rate of change in 
structural stock may accelerate or decelerate over time. 
according to general economic cycles and trends, local 
demands for a particular type of building, or political 
decisions. But because of the fairly permanent nature of 
buildings and the cost of adapting, demolishing or 
rebuilding them, changes in the "structural stock" of a 
city occur fairly slowly. 
Changes in the activity patterns of a city occur more 
quickly. Indeed it is partly the ability of cities to 
accomodate rapid changes in activities which gives them 
their special place in the pattern of social life. 
Sometimes changes in the activity pattern will require 
the adaptation of existing accomodation from one type 
to another but in any case we have all observed the 
rapidly changing stream of social life in our cities. 
The array of structural stock changes more slowly than 
the array of activities which flows through it. There is a 
lag between stock and activities which gives rise to 
both costs and benefits in the work, shape and life of the 
city. But the pattern is more complex than this, for 
accomodation is fixed while activities are more mobile, 
And the requirements of activities will vary in respect 
of location and type of accomodation. For some kinds of 
activities the type of accomodation will be all 
important, whereas for others location will take 
precedence over accomodation. 
This whole process is acted upon by public 
controls, In the early days of the growth of cities the 
original pattern may represent the outcome of entirely 
private choices, but public controls are soon 
imposed upon the privately chosen arrays of stock. As 
the original "free market" pattern of stock decays it is 
replaced by new accomodation, which has been 
constructed within the framework of public control, and 
this becomes the basis of choice for later activities. 
The matching between the arrays of accomodation and 
activities is affected by the behaviour of certain sets of 
"actors" in the urban scene. First of all we have the 
"providers" of accomodation. Those who construct 
building stock, sometimes for their own occupation but 
very often for occupation for others, Next there are the 
"occupiers" of accomodation, those who take up the 
space provided and who must choose between the array 
ARCH + 1(1968) H.4
	        

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