Architect wins fellowship for global public space investigation

Alpa Depani has been awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to explore approaches to the design of public realm in global cities.

Date: 20 June 2017

Alpa Depani, Undergraduate Studio Tutor in Architecture and Interiors at The Cass, has been awarded a prestigious Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship to explore what makes public realm spaces successful and how these approaches can be used in London. 

From July, Alpa, who also graduated from The Cass in 2011 with Professional Diploma in Architecture - RIBA2, will be travelling to New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong to study public realm spaces and the strategies that could be used in the design and maintenance of community driven public spaces in London. 

Alpa’s self-initiated project, Bottom Up Approaches To Small Scale Public Realm In Global Cities, is founded on the premise that good public space is not a decorative trimming to urban development but rather an intrinsic element that should be promoted and implemented as such. 

Like London, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong are geographically constrained cities where development is primarily commercially driven. When combined with rising land value and growing populations leads to challenges in providing public space. 

Through walking tours of the cities, Alpa will document the spatial and social uses of spaces using drawing, writing and photography. The project will focus on community driven spaces, rather than spaces created as part of large-scale developments.

Commenting on the fellowship, Alpa said: “This generous grant is an opportunity to advance a lengthy preoccupation with the importance of good public realm in the design of equitable, resilient and inclusive cities. The project's strand of research and investigative method were both refined during my Diploma studies in Architecture at London Met. I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation by sharing my research within the school, the profession and beyond.” 

Alpa received one of just three Arts and Crafts fellowships awarded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, in collaboration with the British Council, for people working in the applied arts in interiors, product and graphic design and architecture. 

Julia Weston, Chief Executive of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, said: “Churchill Fellows travel globally and return with innovative ideas and a commitment to sharing their findings to help others in the UK. These designers will contribute to the booming UK design industry through identifying outstanding international design and incorporating it into their own work.” 

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was established after the former Prime Minister died in 1965. The Trust’s objective for the Travelling Fellowships is to provide opportunities for British citizens to go abroad on a worthwhile enterprise of their own choosing, with the aim of enriching their lives by their wider experience – through the knowledge, understanding, and/or skills they gain - and, on their return, enhancing the life of their community by their example and the dissemination of the benefit of their travels.

Image: Courtesy of Alpa Depani