think place is an urban design consultancy founded in 2006 by Garry Colligan to focus on three central themes: place, sustainability and community.
Prior to setting up think place, Garry was Urban Director at Terry Farrell and Partners where he played a key role, helping Terry establish the concept of placemaking in the minds of policy-makers and developers - a profound shift in the way we now think about urban settlement. Garry has continued this work at think place, persuading diverse groups from a national supermarket to Romanian real estate agents that a sense of place matters.
Garry's expertise in this field was recognised in 2012 when he was appointed a Built Environment Expert by the Design Council. He is also an 'Urban Design Surgeon' for Urban Design London and in 2009 was invited to be an academician at the Academy of Urbanism.
At think place we are committed to understanding sense of place at a profound level and in 2011 established Place Research Lab: a not-for-profit Community Interest Company set up in collaboration with the University of East London to carry out applied research in the field.
think place are leaders in the field of sustainable settlements and in 2009 were invited by international design facilitators Les Ateliers as the sole representative from the UK to join a panel of experts in environmental design in Huludao (north-east China) to develop proposals for an eco-city that could become a template for similar development in China. We worked intensely for two weeks and produced proposals to be published in China by Tongji University.
The methodology for assessing the sustainability of buildings is well advanced, but less so for settlements. Through Place Research Lab, we worked with the US Green Building Council to review the application of their LEED Neighbourhood Design* assessment tool in the UK.
Designers don't create communities. Design, however, if done badly can fragment communities and isolate people. If done well, it can bring people together, allow neighbours to bump in to each other, children to play safely and for the gradual shaping of a place over time by its people.
Through Place Research Lab, we developed a pilot tool for neighbourhoods to set rigorous sustainability standards through the neighbourhood planning process. It was trialled in both the London Boroughs of Southwark and Westminster, receiving positive feedback from both the local community and the respective councils.
Our commitment to shaping a more cohesive and equitable society was recognised in 2012 when practice principal Garry Colligan was invited to be a fellow of the RSA.
* LEED ("Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design") is the internationally-recognised method for assessing sustainable design and ND ("Neighborhood Development") assesses schemes at the scale of a neighbourhood. Platinum is the highest score achievable. For more information see: www.usgbc.org