How do they do it? David Rudlin

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 6 Oct 2014

David Rudlin

David Rudlin started his career with Manchester City Council with responsibility for the early stages of the redevelopment of Hulme. He joined URBED in 1990 to manage the award-winning Little Germany Action project in Bradford. Last month, Urbed won the £250,000 Wolfson Prize, aimed at finding the best idea for delivering a new garden city.

Q. What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them? 

A. It sounds prosaic but on a practical level it's to keep URBED going - the recession and spending review affected private and public-sector clients. On another level my objective is to work towards the best approach to urban development and to promote urbanism and environmental design. We do have internal peer reviews, nevertheless people here understand what an 'URBED project' is and we don't have a raft of quality review procedures in place; we talk to each other. 

Q. What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil those objectives? 

A. Bringing about change is difficult and a long-term process. I spent a long time in the 80s and 90s talking about urban renaissance with little success, and then it gathered momentum. I'd like to think more people were listening to me at last but it was probably more a case of my views connecting with the wider flow of what people were thinking at that time.

Its a fallacy that you can plan and design a city. There's a reductionist view that you can design things and they will turn out the way you want them to, but this rarely, if ever, happens because there are so many complexities.

You do your best when you are having fun. We have a simple test when we look at a project: 'will we enjoy it; will it be interesting?' Just as important for us is to express that fun through humour, which is a good way of relating to people and getting them to take ideas on board.