Building the future ...
Woodbridge: Building the Future
by Claire Lalaguna, MD at Satellite MPR – The Built Environment PR Agency.
"Some of us lucky enough to call Woodbridge home felt a bit miffed, or at least damned with faint praise, when the Sunday Times fingered our town as the best place to live in the east of England.
In the east of England?
Best place on the planet, more like…
To win what is a much coveted accolade, Woodbridge ticked all the boxes – sailing through on jobs, exam results, broadband speed, culture, community spirit, local shops, transport, crime statistics and education.
But a town is more than the sum of its parts. In planning-speak, it’s a ‘Built Environment’ - the term that lumps together all those places’n’spaces crafted by humans for human activity. It embraces everything, from mills and malls to places of worship, and even the drains.
The whole humanscape from Sutton Hoo to Hasketon.
Here at Satellite, we’re always pondering how that humanscape fits together and is evolving. As a PR and Marketing agency, promoting clients who work exclusively in the built environment sector, it is our job to raise understanding of the ideas driving all kinds of construction projects - not just in Woodbridge, but across the UK and beyond. We work at the touchpoint between people who actually live in the built environment, and the architects, designers, engineers and builders who want to change it.
It’s a place of friction between fiery passions: between conservatism – and conservationism, come to that – and progressive zeal; between commerce and community; between creative and critic; between personal and public. Sparks can fly and we wouldn’t have it any other way. People should care about what they build and where, what they authorise to be built and by whom, and what is built in their name. The truth is, we get the built environment we deserve, so we’re wise to make every effort to get it right.
Skyline, riverside, we’ve seen waves of change to the Woodbridge townscape since we started Satellite, back in 1996. There’s always something new on the horizon, whether it’s upcycling Sutton Hoo into a visitor ‘Destination’ that might have Raedwald turning in his grave, the ‘cheese-wedge’ at Melton, currently igniting furious front-page debate, or the long-mooted scheme to morph the wharf into our very own Antibes on the Deeb.
Change happens. If it didn’t, we’d still be living in the Dark Ages, in the pointy huts favoured by Raedwald and the Wuffings. There wouldn’t be St Mary’s (‘sticks out like ye sore thumb’, ‘towers disproportionately over ye surrounding hovels’, ‘horrible skyscraper’) and certainly no Tidemill (‘dark and satanic’, ‘hideous great shed’, ‘blot on the river’, ‘bit planky’, ‘let them eat cake’).
Change isn’t always good, but isn’t fear of change frequently worse than change itself? Buildings opposed or derided at the planning stage can fade quickly into the town fabric as if they’ve always been there, or the more exciting ones become landmarks in their own lifetime and icons in the future. That’s the point about the Built Environment. It is always being built, always a work in progress, never actually finished. It looks permanent but it’s protean. As one structure crumbles or falls out of fashion, another takes its place, until that, too, is supplanted. Woodbridge is in transit. It has no real present: it’s a leafmould of its yesterdays and its tomorrows, without beginning or end, gathering softly a bit like the silts and mists of our river.
Prosperity brings dynamic growth - which brings more prosperity, more growth, and more, well, more of everything. And it’s a no-brainer that the more Woodbridge is recognised as a marvellous place to live, the more people will come to live in it.
And that sets every one of us a challenge - to steward our town’s evolution with grace and intelligence so that we don’t demolish what makes it so marvellous, so enviably and desirably lovely. Baby, bathwater. Goose, golden eggs. We exist not in a vacuum but a continuum; and while we may think we are building for the present, what we are actually building is the future.
Woodbridge. Best place on the planet. But still a work in progress."
About Claire ...
Claire Lalaguna is the founder and MD at Woodbridge-based Satellite MPR – The Built Environment PR Agency. Established in 1996, Satellite MPR is the public relations partner of choice for some of the UK’s most respected built environment businesses including architects, engineers, developers, interior designers & key influencers. www.satellitempr.com