Canterbury – City of Imagination

The Canterbury Experience
Canterbury City Council commissioned yellow book and WMUD to carry out a concept study of the proposed creative and cultural quarter (CCQ) in Canterbury. The city is one of Britain’s most famous and important places, a powerful symbol of Englishness and spirituality, rich in historic and literary associations.

The brief identified the opportunity to use the prospective CCQ to drive the renaissance of an area in the historic heart of Canterbury. Although the brief stressed that the CCQ did not have fixed boundaries, a study area was identified, centred on the High Street – St Peter’s Street – St Dunstan’s Street axis, and comprising much of the west side of the medieval walled city.

This area encompasses many of the city’s most important cultural assets including the New Marlowe Theatre, the Beaney Institute, the Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury Environment Centre, the Westgate, Tower House and the Guildhall. In addition, this area is home to a number of private galleries, independent retailers, cafes, restaurants and bars. Much of the cultural life of the city already focuses on the study area, and the brief also notes that the network of historic streets “provides an excellent canvas on which to develop…ideas for the quarter and provide an urban space unrivalled in this part of the south-east”.

Canterbury - City of Imagination - cover

Our proposals were based on four themes set out below:

Theme 1: Creative and cultural industries: a package of measures designed to enhance the quality and appeal of Canterbury culture, and to promote the growth of the creative industries.

Theme 2: Development zones: we identified four locations that offered opportunities for mixed use developments which will include CCIs and other knowledge based industries

Theme 3: Urban design and the public realm: proposals for intervention to improve the public realm and the built environment in key locations and by establishing a rich network of routes, spaces and places

Theme 4: The Canterbury experience: priority actions to improve aspects of the Canterbury experience for local people and visitors, including an innovative place marketing campaign.

Our report is available to download here (7.83MB PDF) – alternatively it can be browsed below:

Willie Miller, the founder and principal of WMUD, died on 12th January 2021 after a short illness. Willie was a much-loved husband and father and had a huge circle of friends  and professional colleagues. He was a multi-talented urban designer whose work had a major impact on hundreds of cities, towns and neighbourhoods throughout the UK and over the past 25 years. He also worked in Ireland, the Channel Islands and the USA.

Ines Triebel has been with WMUD since 2005, and she will continue the practice, drawing on her skills as a planner and designer. Ines has worked on place strategies, masterplans, policy guidance, regeneration and development frameworks, and the design of public realm and streetscape projects. She has extensive experience of working with communities, including charrettes.

WMUD will continue its long-standing strategic partnerships with Benton Scott-Simmons, Nick Wright Planning, Kevin Murray Associates, icecream architecture, yellow book and others. Please direct inquiries to Ines at [email protected] or contact any of the practices named above.