The Dean’s Foreword

Like many communities, The Bartlett was forced to adapt to challenging circumstances in 2021. Nonetheless, we remained focused on the common causes that unite us as a faculty.

Welcome to The Bartlett Review 2021.

This is The Bartlett’s opportunity to reflect on another transformative year in which our diverse global community came together – in person and online – to continue advancing our shared mission of building a better future.

In the last year, like so many communities around the world, our faculty spent much of the time in lockdown. Living under various levels of restriction, we were unable to work, research, teach or learn in the usual ways. And so, we poured our creativity into transforming practices, innovating pedagogy and embracing new (mostly digital) methods. We learned how to be global without travelling. We found ways to build relationships and share knowledge while distancing. And we strengthened our connections to place, with many of us spending more time than ever before immersed in our local neighbourhoods, getting to know the spaces and people around our homes in deeper and slower ways.

Throughout, we remained intensely focused on the issues that unite us as a faculty: taking action to address the climate crisis, developing solutions for resilient urban futures, ensuring just and equitable spaces for all and reshaping design education as part of our long-term goal to be more diverse and inclusive. These efforts are all captured in this year’s Review.

In October 2021, as part of the faculty’s climate action initiative, we announced The Bartlett’s commitment to achieve net zero by 2030. Our journey to reach this goal is shaped by extensive work and thinking on sustainability, which ranges from advising the government on how to use biomass in the clean energy transition to understanding how accelerated environmental change is threatening heritage buildings.

As we learn to adapt to climate change, we also need to make our built environment more resilient – not only to physical threats but also to social needs. The pandemic has put immense pressure on cities, homes and livelihoods, revealing – and producing – inequalities that range across health, education, mobility, housing, energy, access to green space, and more. We are rebounding but the question remains: how do we build back better? Bartlett researchers are answering this question, whether it is by studying how Britain’s homes performed under lockdown, why face-to-face still matters in decision-making, new ways to enable community participation in building design or how good street design can improve our health.

“Working closely with our many partners in London and around the world, we are driven to create a post-pandemic future that is just, sustainable and healthy.”

The way we design and use spaces profoundly affects access and inclusion in the built environment. The need to create more equitable spaces has been at the heart of many Bartlett projects this year, including the launch of our “Building Better” and “Future Cities” podcasts, where we explore issues such as gentrification, the gendering of buildings, the future of learning spaces and the place of slowness in accelerated living. The challenges around equitable space in London loom especially large in this year’s Review, which explores topics as diverse as co-creating spaces for creativity with young East Londoners, the role of theatre in telling the deeper history of Grenfell, the dangers of digital democracy and the potential for a more equitable planning system in London. What interconnects the faculty’s work across this area is a strong desire to build civic trust, empower marginalised communities, and bridge urban divides.

In 2019, The Bartlett adopted the Commitment to Change, which is our manifesto for building an equitable, healthy, biodiverse, and inclusive future. We know that delivering on this commitment means continuously evolving our educational offering. It means critically reflecting on how and where we can do better. And it means embracing change. This is why we are actively redesigning education across many parts of the faculty and working together to pioneer new programmes and pedagogies, remove barriers to education, diversify our community, and harness the transformative potential of new knowledge and emerging technologies. In this work, we are guided by principles of ethical practice in the built environment, which we seek to place at the heart of our shared endeavours.

As we move into 2022, we are entering a new phase of the pandemic. Here at The Bartlett we remain passionate about mobilising the faculty’s creative energy and radical spirit to build better. Working closely with our many partners in London and around the world, we are driven to create a post-pandemic future that is just, sustainable and healthy.


Prof Christoph Lindner

Dean of The Bartlett, Faculty of the Built Environment and Professor in Urban Studies, The Bartlett School of Architecture

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