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Placing the market town: a place-specific, design-led approach to the development of rural settlements

Jones, Matthew Richard 2016. Placing the market town: a place-specific, design-led approach to the development of rural settlements. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Through research by design, this thesis develops a place-specific approach to rural market towns based on an in-depth mapping of place and the integration of new buildings into historic town fabrics. Market towns in the Welsh Marches are used as a location for this exploration. In many cases, these towns have a high historical and cultural value, but face challenges of affordability, changing demographic needs and a decline in services provision that threaten their survival. Neither large enough to attract urban regeneration funding nor small enough to be independently resilient, market towns find themselves in an in-between position, leaving town councils with limited resources to enable change. Despite emphasising placemaking and distinctiveness, planning policy often fails to engage with the nature of place and the nuances that make these towns unique. Through design- and practice-based research, critical factors in successful small town placemaking are identified and a place-specific alternative to current development strategies is proposed. An operational framework for design is developed through first-hand experience of Luigi Snozzi’s involvement in the Swiss town of Monte Carasso and a critique of its application to the English context, developed through literature and precedent studies. This is tested through series of sequential design studies in Ludlow and Ruthin. The objective of these investigations is to refine the framework and test its applicability for architects and designers working in market towns. The research demonstrates that by combining elements of European morphological and English picturesque traditions of placemaking, a holistic design framework founded on an in-depth reading of place can be an effective tool for designers. The resulting design approach suggests the growth and evolution of sustainable rural towns should be as much spatial as it is economic and political and identifies a positive role for the architect in enhancing the experience of living and working in contemporary market towns.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Uncontrolled Keywords: Market town; rural settlements; design
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 8 December 2016
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2022 16:10

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