As we all know Bradford's got some big plans for the
future. This is what Will Alsop had to say to me about his vision.
What is your 'Vision' for Bradford. How do you think
the city ought to change?
"Bradford is a very interesting city that was ruined
in the '60s and '70s in particular, also it has some very fine buildings
in it from the Victorian period and also from the start of the 20th century
but they then began to put a lot of rubbish in between.
Our Vision For Bradford, worked out with the people of Bradford over a
long period of time, was to take all those bad buildings away so we can
see the good buildings that are left. We also want to replace some of
the buildings with new ones to give the city an identity and to create
a heart for Bradford. Another important thing we want to do is make Bradford
very distinct from Leeds."
man with the plan, Will Alsop.
What would you say to those who don't support your
"They had lots of opportunity to participate and
make their views known. We tried to use all the things people were talking
about as aspirations for their city. Inevitably there will always be those
who don't like what you're talking about. I think this is because people
don't like change very much, they like what they know and maybe they are
afraid of change.
The good news is, once we do change things, people often like it very
The new plans propose lots of green space and a large water element. Do
you think this is practical in a modern-day working city such as Bradford?
"Yes, there is a lot of green space and a big water
element planned for outside the town-hall this is a gathering place and
represents the heart of Bradford. At the moment if you said to someone
in Bradford, 'Where do you think the centre of Bradford is?' They don't
really know, so this is to symbolise the middle of the city. The green
spaces come about as a lot of roads will be taken out. There are excessive
ring roads and we want to celebrate people not cars!"
What are the chances of these green sites being abused?
"The lake is where the police station is so this
would be hopefully a deterrent."
Do you think the new plans will bring our multi-cultural
"I think the thing that brings people together is
the idea of civic pride i.e. you're proud to live in YOUR town or city.
I'm not saying that design itself can help any sort of racial problems,
but it certainly doesn't do any harm. It is defiantly a step in the right
I am one of the next generation of Bradford people. What will the new
plans hold for people of my age?
"I hope you'd find it rather beautiful, relaxing,
and a good place to meet your friends. I hope that when you get older
you'll just be able to sit there and enjoy the view, just sit there and
On the other hand as a slightly younger person there will be places to
eat, drink, shop, to meet and to go clubbing, and what have you."
walkway to success?
Do you not think that there could be too many green
spaces open to abuse - it could be dangerous or be places to meet up and
"That might be true! But it's very much the idea
that if you create a beautiful place it has a claming effect. If you look
at wealthier places than Bradford, these problems never go away but are
certainly reduced. So I think the 'Vision' will help. It's as though someone's
taken this wonderful place, and forgotten it, and not put any real love
into to it for a long period of time."
Some people may argue that a lot of historic buildings will be torn
down and some of the city's culture will be lost. How will you compensate
"That's not true, in fact, it's quite the reverse.
We want to keep the old buildings and put them into a setting that people
can really appreciate, and clean them up and find new uses for them."
I recently visited an exhibition of yours at Urbis in Manchester. I enjoyed
your ideas on the M62 tunnel. Will Bradford be part of this if it ever
"I think Bradford is inevitably an important urban
centre within the bigger picture I was exploring in that exhibition. The
idea comes from what I'd observed anyway, if you look at all the different
towns and cities going right across the Pennines they are like one big
city in the way they are used. If that is the case then there should be
more sharing, and I'm saying that there could be some new towns and villages
along the M62, and with a bit of spirit and cooperation you've got a city
that has a population of more than 15 million people. If it works, together
there's a strength and a power that can challenge south east England and
London in particular."
How do you look into the identity of a city? Did you
consider there is a large Asian community in Bradford?
"There were a few problems with the Asian community
as they were a little bit shy in expressing themselves, in their dreams
and ideas, and that is bad, but it is something they have inherited. But
what I have found out form listening to these people is that they want
their town to be different from any other, and they want to be proud of
their city, but at the moment it's difficult."
How did you do the research for the designs?
"We had lots of workshops; we gave them paintbrushes
and bits of paper and asked them to dream about their town and what it
could be like in 20 years time. It was good fun as well!"
city sky line for'2020 Vision'.
In the 1960s many plans were made to regenerate Bradford
but they all resulted in unfinished concrete jungles. Would there be any
chance of your design having the same effect?
"That's always a difficult question to answer. They
were done in good faith, I believe we know a lot more about how people
live and about urban life than we did in the 60s, and therefore we are
more likely to get it right. Instead of having an idea of what a city
should be, instead you listen to the city and then put it together in
some sort of vision. This is what we've tried to do in Bradford."
Have you taken into account any of the original designs or have you scrapped
them all and gone all out with your own designs?
"I was just appalled that 90% of what was built
in the 60's has been low budget, with high maintenance costs, not very
ecologically sound or sustainable and wasn't really doing anything for
the city at all. So we tried to avoid that and looked to the future!"
My interview went really well and it was fantastic to
speak toWill Alsop in person. as a designer myself I find him completely
inspiring . He is the man who I believe is going to change our city's
future for the better and I really think people should show a little bit
of gratitude because he is a complete genius!!