Why the “Total Place” agenda is the future
01st February 2011
When I first heard about the ‘Total Place’ agenda it was explained as an initiative to sweat assets so local authorities could release buildings and services to the public domain. Being architect trained and a bit of an urbanite I saw beautiful Victorian city centre buildings available for loft living, gorgeous hotels or shopping malls, but fortunately the ‘Total Place’ agenda is not as superficial as me.
What is it about?
Focused on growth, inclusion and public service transformation the agenda is the single largest challenge to our way of thinking in decades. Already interpretation has begun on both sides of the fence from regional council collaborative procurement hubs to the transference of investment by private pharmaceutical companies into university-run facilities.
The "Total Place" agenda is not about cost-cutting but about delivering genuine public value and improvements. Answering those questions we all ask - Does this service, building or activity improve my life as a citizen? Is my money well spent? Does it improve my community? My nation? Where, and how do I contribute to ‘public value’?
What impact will this have on designers?
We have a pivotal role. Within this new, open book agenda, nothing is sacred or protected it just asks that every action is benefit-led. As designers we have a long history of partnership initiatives from The Latham Report 1994 through the Egan: Rethinking Construction report of 1998, the agenda pushed these initiatives further to become publically owned behaviours and ethics. The work weaves together three complementary strands: ‘counting’, ‘culture’ and ‘customer needs’
The impact of seeking public value will have an equal response within the private sector too. With international business the agenda will be a global view of ‘private sector value’ which is as yet undefined and obviously very variable according to ethics and region.
The race to design ‘public value’ begins. The ‘Total Place’ agenda openly embraces the freedom to look wider than our backyards, investigate those seemingly off the wall ideas and ditch bureaucracy – it just needs to deliver value for our communities. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to the year ahead.
David Rycroft is our Business Strategy Director.
David has broad international architectural experience, including work in London, Glasgow, Milan, Berlin and New York and two years as Architectural Design Director on the Dubai Festival City. His sector experience covers a wide range of capability—from high end boutique and corporate design to innovative renewable energy environments.
Want to know
The Total Place Agenda is published by the HMRC. Please click our link for a copy of the policy.