An engaging Big Meet #7!


On the 25th of April 2017, The Big Meet #7 : Engaging Communities in Place-Making, organised by the Urban Rooms Network, took place in UCL. The ‘Big Meet’ is a bi-annual conference, organised by the Place Alliance, who campaign for place quality along with organisations across the UK who are working in the field of place-based community engagement.

Delegates including local authorities, housing associations, community groups, regeneration bodies, education and arts organisations attended April’s Big Meet. The event showcased a range of projects from the Urban Room Network including the Sheffield School of Architecture’s Live Works, Blackburn Urban Room and Bristol Architecture Centre.


The following speakers presented best practice in creative community engagement:

  • Sophia de Sousa, The Glass-House Community Led Design
  • Janet Morris, Shad Thames Area Management Partnership (STAMP)
  • Diane Dever & Lewis Biggs, Folkestone Fringe & Folkestone Triennial
  • Claire Tymon, Blackburn is Open
  • Carolyn Butterworth, Live Works

In the afternoon delegates took part in a workshop, using material developed by Live Works, to understand the challenges and opportunities in developing their own Urban Room or place-based community engagement project. They were prompted to consider the ethical and practical aspects of the project in order to ensure that the engagement would be locally relevant, sustainable and creative.

Carolyn Butterworth, Chair of the URN and Director of Live Works explains “The Big Meet was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the exciting work that members of the Urban Room Network are doing across the UK. It was such an interesting day where we all learned so much from each other and I know that conversations that started on the day between different places and organisations have continued further since then. This is what the network aims to do – connect up people and organisations who are passionate about community engagement in their place, so that we can share knowledge and skills, and ultimately make a difference to the quality of our towns and neighbourhoods.”

Sophia de Sousa, Chief Executive of The Glass-House said “It was a really good day. I particularly liked that there was an active session that challenged people to think about and apply what had been explored in the morning – people actually learning by doing. My favourite moment at the workshop table was talking about turning the whole of Oxford Street into an Urban Room!”

Matthew Carmona, Chair of the Place Alliance and Professor of Planning and Urban Design at The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL writes about the day here.


A full report on the day’s proceedings will be published by the Place Alliance. Findings from the event will be collated on this website to help us develop as a national and international resource for ‘top-tips’, best practice and case-studies in creative community engagement.

See related posts to view the presentations given on the day as well as our article on the toolkit used during the workshop.


Posters from the Urban Rooms Fair



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