Navigating urban landscapes through igloo’s Footprint approach at the Festival of Place 2023
In the dynamic landscape of urban development, the quest for climate resilience takes centre stage. The Festival of Place recently hosted a pivotal event centred around climate resilience, drawing in many thought leaders and innovators, all passionate about shaping a sustainable future for the world of property development. Key speakers included the likes of Chloe McFarlane, Founder and CEO of Tranquil City and Hala Al Haddid, leading researcher at Sheffield Hallam University. As CEO of Blueprint, and in my role as Director at igloo, I was proud to be in attendance as one of these speakers, to promote how Blueprint uses igloo’s Footprint process to drive impact and investor value in our work. Here’s a rundown of what I experienced on the day and some of my key takeaways…
A meeting of minds
The Festival of Place felt like a very positive convergence of minds, all driving towards a collective goal: reshaping our urban landscapes for a resilient future. My presence at the event was rooted in the pursuit of insights that would elevate our approach at Blueprint and provide even more inspiration for our future projects and strategies.
The event showcased that important blend of science-based targets and real-world examples bringing academic research together with practical industry experience. Many of the discussions circled around critical themes such as overheating, net-zero calculations, nature-based solutions, and community engagement, to discussions of investment metrics. Each session and discussion of the day functioned as a stepping stone toward a holistic understanding of climate resilience in urban development.
One of the key moments of my day was being able to share insights from Blueprint’s adopted investment methodology – Footprint– the approach first developed by Igloo over 20 years ago which continues to keep a sharp focus on those elements which matter most in the neighbourhoods in which we work creating places that people love, and which are good for the planet. It is igloo’s structured framework that enables us to dissect the impact of our decisions, understanding what is most important to the neighbourhood in question so that we deliver social impact and strong investor returns. I was thrilled to see that the Footprint model, which is centred on exploring the impact of design and investment decisions, resonated deeply with the audience. Development and regeneration is invariably a balancing act between aspirations, outcomes, costs and returns, the feedback on the day suggested that many struggle to hold on to the aspirations and outcomes in the face of financial pressures. Footprint provides an important framework to manage these tensions, the evidence that it works is demonstrated not only in Blueprint’s work but in all the work of Igloo delivers for its clients.
Throughout the sessions, the alignment of Blueprint’s ethos with the event’s key narrative became increasingly evident. The discussions on circularity and carbon measurement directly resonated with our own challenges. Our Footprint approach does not exist in isolation; it seamlessly integrates into these narratives, guiding us through the complex world of carbon measurement and circularity challenges.
The event’s agenda was expansive, touching upon various aspects of climate resilience. From retrofitting housing for unpredictable weather to leveraging narratives in tackling climate change, each topic added a layer to our understanding. It echoed our ethos – where design isn’t just aesthetics but a means to foster sustainability, offering genuine choices that elevate the communities we serve.
A platform to empower
The diverse audience ranged from local authorities to designers and was a testament to the event’s inclusive nature. For newcomers it functioned as a starting point to navigating the complexities of climate-resilient urban development with confidence. The Festival of Place wasn’t just a showcase of ideas; it was an empowering platform, igniting conversations that will help to shape better decision-making – something that we at Blueprint are already modelling.
The event reinforced my belief in the power of collaboration amongst all those engaged in the built environment, inspiring us to continue shaping spaces that do not just withstand challenges but thrive in the face of adversity. As we know at Blueprint, the journey toward truly resilient urban landscapes is one set against a constantly evolving landscape. But with the help of insightful and inspiring events such as this one, the path towards a more ethically responsible way of planning and building becomes much clearer.