Welcome to the 2020 Bartlett Annual Review. This is The Bartlett’s opportunity to put this most remarkable year in focus, and reflect on the insights, ideas and impact of our diverse global community.
We started 2020 with the aspiration to change the world – to move towards green cities, build affordable housing, produce inclusive design and enable accessible education. While the pandemic has created new problems, it has also created new conditions that could accelerate change – if driven by the right values. So much of this pandemic has been about the relationship of humans to space. Whether in the workplace, on transport, in our homes or in education, we have, in both intimate and collective ways, rediscovered how we relate to space – and struggled with the difficulty of not being able to enjoy it together.
In this year’s Annual Review, we’re focusing on what we, at The Bartlett, see as some of the most pressing issues in the field of the built environment.
The climate crisis is a global emergency, and many of our world-leading researchers and thinkers have dedicated this year to finding new and creative solutions to build a greener future for all. With the disruption created by the pandemic comes the opportunity to do things differently, and to enable communities, cities and countries worldwide to find sustainable ways to thrive, while safeguarding their natural environments.
Closer to home, we have launched The Bartlett Climate Change Taskforce to find ways to reduce our environmental impact and embed more sustainable ways of working for our community. This year, for the first time, our Annual Review is digital. This new format reduces our carbon footprint. It also makes our work more accessible and enables people to experience The Bartlett in more immersive, interactive ways.
Diversity and inclusion also remain at the top of our agenda. Cities – and, indeed, human societies – are about being together in positive and prosperous ways. We know we have to do this far better. We need to create spaces that break down systemic inequalities and ignite the power of diverse perspectives to reimagine a better future for everyone.
To do this, we need a greater plurality of voices within The Bartlett. So, we are taking action. This year, we launched The Bartlett Promise Scholarship, providing financial support, mentoring and career development for students from under-represented backgrounds, and paving the way for increased diversity in the built environment professions. We are working hard to accelerate hiring staff from diverse backgrounds. During the Black Lives Matter global protests, for example, we ran open dialogues discussing race in the built environment and talking together about racism. We are committed to keep building on those dialogues and have them inform our wider strategy.
We support and motivate each other, but we also challenge each other. This culture – of experimentation, of radical thinking combined with breadth of expertise – makes us unique.
Looking ahead, we are also turning our thinking to the possibilities of post-pandemic futures. Speculating and re-imagining the future is an embedded part of all our disciplines, whether that’s research on how hospital ward layouts can change to improve quality of care, or reflections on the transformation of global real estate.
All the things we want to change are connected. As you read this Annual Review, you will find provocative ideas that suggest we cannot address the climate crisis without also addressing housing. And we cannot address housing without also addressing human health. Solving these huge, interwoven problems will require interdisciplinary knowledge, collaborative approaches and diversity of thought.
I am incredibly proud of the intense creativity and collaboration we create at The Bartlett. We support and motivate each other, but we also challenge each other. This culture – of experimentation, of radical thinking combined with breadth of expertise – makes us unique.
The pandemic caused an interruption, opening up a space in which we are experiencing different ways of living, working and learning online. Throughout, the adaptability and resilience of our community has been astounding. We know we need to continue pushing for change and disruption in the built environment, to secure a better global future. Explore the extraordinary breadth of work in this Annual Review, and you will see that this movement has already begun.
Dean of The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and Professor in Urban Studies at University College London