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Rural Design Forum to create a new alliance

July 18 2005

A group of farming, artistic and architectural interests is planning to form a Rural Design Forum. This was the major decision made by the Rural Design Conference at the end of June, organised to create a common vision for the problems currently facing rural communities as food subsidies are reduced by the British Government. According to farmer Mike Keeble, who addressed the conference, the rural economy is facing “a third revolution” which will radically alter the countryside.
Conference organiser, Ian Hunter of believed that the predicament facing the rural economy was an area in which architects could be of great help. “The countryside is at an ideological and aesthetic turning point. Unless farmers diversify they will die. Architects are great at breaking ideological blockages,” he said. Architects at the conference showed how they had already entered the debate. Peter Murray explained how he was going to run sheep through Clerkenwell as part of the next London Architecture Biennale as a means of drawing attention to the old trade routes and centres which brought food into the capital.
From the rural perspective, individuals such as Gareth Guant showed how farming had already diversified. He grows 12 ha of willow coppice and annually sells 600 tonnes to a local power station. A plenary session of the Conference called “for a meeting to take place between CABE, RIBA, the Design Council, the Crafts Council, Arts Council England and the Rural Cultural Forum and the NFU to underline the new role of design and architecture in the context of rural regeneration.” An exhibition and book are planned based on contributions from a huge variety of interested parties at the conference.

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