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HOK speaks on city planning at our Birmingham forum

Above: John Prevc, regional leader of planning at HOK

We are delighted that John Prevc, Director at architects HOK, will be speaking at our third levelling up forum in Birmingham this week.

John is the regional leader of planning in HOK’s London studio. As an architect and urbanist with a distinguished three-decade career, he specializes in the strategic design and delivery of large-scale mixed-use and higher education projects. He has worked on several buildings in Birmingham, including The Exchange, where Future Cities Forum is holding its third levelling up event.

John honed his skills working for some of the UK’s leading practices, including Grimshaw, Foster + Partners and MAKE Architects, which he helped establish in 2004. Over his 30-year career, he has worked on a diverse range of projects, including the regeneration of the Heygate Estate at Elephant and Castle, Wembley North West Lands in London, The Cube landmark mixed-use building in Birmingham, a masterplan and multiple buildings on the University of Nottingham’s Jubilee Campus, and the Dresden Central Station in Germany.

His work leads him to collaborate with his clients and colleagues in London to explore how urban design can help make important connections and enhance projects across all the sectors, disciplines and scales in which HOK works. Committed to advancing the profession, John serves as an external examiner for both the Birmingham City University School of Architecture and Coventry University School of Architecture.

On recent UK government proposals to organise land into three areas of growth, renewal and protection and create pre-approved design codes that fast-track construction in certain areas, John has concerns. He warns of the voice of locally elected council members not being heard, removing debate and transferring power to the private sector, at a rate not seen since the 1970's.

Creating the legislation for new planning codes he insists, will probably take more time than the Government has left and considering the momentous events that have overtaken Boris Johnson's leadership this week, it is hard to disagree with him.

John will be joining our event hosted by The University of Birmingham and Birmingham Health Partners, which together are building a new health innovation campus for the city and region, at Selly Oak.

He talks of the need for cities of the future to make sure that the built environment plays the right role in public health, with the creation of public spaces where residents can pause and reflect, reduce stress and improve the mind body connection. He urges supporting multi-generational and multi-ethnic inclusiveness by developing public spaces that encourage social interaction.

As cities become more densely populated in the future, he prescribes a closer look at social infrastructure, making sure that those professionals working in the healthcare sector can afford to live close to hospitals and research laboratories.

John foresees big cities returning to the medieval city state. They are beginning to have more power he says and as in the US, they will want to begin to create their own laws with more self-sufficient urban hubs not interested in following the directives of national or regional government, keeping their wealth for their own preservation and development.

Future Cities Forum looks forward to debating these issues with John and other contributors including Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority at its levelling up event next week.


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