The city of Canterbury, as it stands today, represents the cumulative layering of generations of human social activity. From humble beginnings as a centre of Celtic tribal activity in Kent, to its consolidation as the Roman town of Durovernum Cantiacorum, through the medieval period right up to the founding of Canterbury Cathedral, post-enlightenment, two world wars… Canterbury has weathered all of these changes, and although the stories of those times might feel a distant past, the architecture they formed stands with us today.
The vibrant diversity of the city’s culture has always been a driving force in how it works as a ‘place’; the Cathedral, the high street, the castle and walls, the rivers, parks, lanes… all slowly etched into shape by how we behave, as residents and visitors alike. And, indeed, the city has always been a ‘pilgrim’s destination’, only nowadays the typical pilgrim carries a tourist map, a camera, and hops between gift shops and coffee spots. The boundaries of the city, once firmly locked by its defensive walls, have slowly bloomed over generations of cultural change; instead of keeping the barbarians from the gate, we now welcome visitors from all around the world, and celebrate the city of change that Canterbury has always been.
In this spirit, we now look forward to what the city might look like in the future. We speculate on A Vision of Canterbury 2055: carefully appraising the city as a place, understanding the issues that it faces, and proposing a sustainable architectural vision that is driven by hope and heritage.
We’ll be teasing more of our ideas over the coming weeks. Make sure to join us on 21st October for our Canterbury Festival Open Studio event when we’ll be showcasing our ideas in full detail.
Posted on | by Seb Willett