american cities visual

Film of the Month: Housing in Our Time and The American City

Housing in Our Time - 1930's Social Guidance 
Produced by the United States Housing Authority of the Federal Works Agency, USA, 20 mins

Housing in Our Time is a promotional film made during the depression in the 1930’s by the United States Housing Authority for Social Housing (USHA).

The film argues that building public housing and raising the living standards of those on lowest income, is a fundamental part of American democratic society – and that the story of homes and how our people live, is the story of the "…foundation on which a nation is built.”

Following the life of a low-income family living in what's described as a Jacksonville ‘slum’, the acute hardships the mother faces while raising her young family under such conditions, are carefully documented.

The film then shifts its focus to the planning, design and construction of the ambitious, large-scale housing projects built by the USHA. As the same Jacksonville family is seen moving into a brand new home in one such development, the film is brought to a close with the bold sentiment that every public low rent housing project, can also be seen as a "…rededication of [American] democracy, to the principle that all men are created equal".

Watch Housing in Our Time


The American City
Dir. Matthew James Thompson, 2015, USA​, 2mins

The American City is a film inspired by the work of prominent 1930’s photographer, Walker Evans – who sought to capture urban landscapes and communities at the height of the Great Depression.

The film blends depression-era historical audio transcripts and moving image with recent footage, to highlight the unexpected parallels and remarkably similar stages of degeneration and transition seen in some of today’s American cities.

Watch The American City 

Image credit: ©The American City

Posted in: Film Of The Month, Recent News
Date: 30 June 2016

Publica is opening its doors for an Open Studio evening, People and the Public Realm on Thursday 16th June between 5 – 8pm, as part of this year's London Festival of Architecture.

Meet the team, see how we work and enjoy a showcase of current and past projects that will provide a fascinating insight into urban neighbourhoods across London, revealing layers of research, fieldwork, drawing, and mapping, for some of the city’s most important civic spaces.

We do hope you are able to join us.


Posted in: Events

as above so below directed by henrietta williams

Publica's new film casts an investigative eye over London's urban complexity

The new short film, As Above, So Below’, commissioned by Publica and directed by Henrietta Williams, traces London’s urban spaces, greens and waterways – from balconies and squares, down to the banks of the Thames – capturing the capital’s multi-layered, complexity. 

Screened during Clerkenwell Design Week the film describes Publica’s investigative methodology and observational approach which seeks to understand the character of the cities we live in. The film observes the theatre and drama of city life and moments of calm, played out day in, day out, in London’s urban spaces. It also functions as a visual field diary for urban designers to ask questions and investigate how people use public spaces, as well as the boundaries between different activities in the city.

The film also marks the practice’s fifth birthday celebrations in 2015.


A Publica Film Unit production
Directed and filmed by Henrietta Williams

Produced by Jessie Teggin
Edited by Simon Ball
Music by James Welland
Run time: 7 minutes 9 seconds 

Posted in: Events
Date: 25 May 2016

West Smithfield International Design Competition

Lucy Musgrave is delighted to have been appointed to the jury for the West Smithfield International Design Competition, launched in February 2016 by the Museum of London to select an architect to create a new museum at West Smithfield in the City of London. 

The Museum of London announced today the six architectural teams who have been shortlisted and full details on the competition jury. To view the press release and for more information on the competition please click here.

Posted in: Recent News
Date: 4 April 2016

Publica article in Historic England Conservation Bulletin

An article entitled ‘Restoration: infrastructure as a catalyst’ by Publica has been published in the spring issue of Historic England’s Conservation Bulletin.

This piece considers the ways in which an infrastructure project can catalyse restoration work. Publica is currently part of a team working on public realm improvements at Hanover Square, a project which illustrates this idea, as transport developments have triggered plans for sensitive changes to the entire square and the surrounding area. If you’d like to read the article you can find it here.

Posted in: Projects, Recent News
Date: 17 March 2016

Film of the Month: Utopia London

The documentary Utopia London charts, through a series of key buildings in the mid to late 20th century, the changing political and social landscape that gave rise to the architectural legacy of Modernism in London still visible today. 

The director Tom Cordell, who grew up in London, draws our attention to the social and political context that the architects worked within and how understanding the progressive political climate in post-war Britain is key to understanding their architecture. 

The highlights of the film are when the architects themselves are given the opportunity to walk a camera around their projects. Neave Brown takes a tour of Alexandra Road, George Finch of the Lambeth Towers, John Bancroft of the Pimlico School and Kate Macintosh of Dawson Heights.

Utopia London
Directed by Tom Cordell, 2010, 82mins

Watch the trailer and buy the film here.

Image: Photography by Alexander Short, © Utopia London

Posted in: Film Of The Month
Date: 31 March 2016

Names Not Numbers conference

Lucy Musgrave will be speaking at the annual Names Not Numbers conference on Wednesday 10 February at the Corinthia Hotel London. 

Lucy will join industry experts, Harvey Goldsmith, Sadie Morgan, Vicky Richardson and Ben Rogers to debate ‘Keeping London Human: Designing for a Fast Growing City’. 

For more information please click here.

Posted in: Events, Recent News
Date: 8 February 2016

Bond Street Development Plan Exhibition

Publica was invited to participate in a three day exhibition (26–28 January) for the Bond Street Development Plan, hosted by New West Company. 

The public exhibition was an opportunity to show the progress of the Plan and for attendees to find out more about the proposals for Bond Street. Publica’s proposals and visualisations were on display and Alex Arestis, Urban Design Director, was in attendance to answer any questions. 

In January 2015 Westminster City Council and the New West End Company commissioned Publica to carry out a detailed audit of the current public realm conditions and develop a concept design for Bond Street. 

For more information on this event please click here



Posted in: Projects, Recent News
Date: 29 January 2016

Urban Land Institute Europe Conference

Lucy Musgrave attended the annual Urban Land Institute Conference, held in Paris on the 2 and 3 February.  

The 2016 programme focused on economic, geo-political and urban development issues with particular focus on density, disruptive technologies, and global capital markets.

For more information please click here.

Posted in: Events
Date: 4 February 2016

Barbican and Golden Lane Area Strategy adopted as City of London policy

Publica is delighted to announce the City of London Court of Common Council has officially adopted the Barbican and Golden Lane Area Strategy as policy. 

This follows a successful consultation period on the strategy and accompanying Vision for the City of London Cultural Hub, which was developed over a year-long process. The strategy sets out a series of recommendations and projects for improvements to the district’s public realm in light of anticipated future changes, including the arrival of Crossrail at Farringdon and Liverpool Street in 2018, and the City’s ambition to develop the area into a London-wide cultural focal point.

Posted in: Projects, Recent News
Date: 3 December 2015

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