My urban futures
Our built and spatial living environments create places of encounter and influence human interactions. Where an individual can walk, stand, enter, act, sit or stay without payment or purpose, has an impact on how s/he experiences her/his environment, and is fundamental to one’s sense of self, of belonging and of citizenship.
There is a crisis of isolation and loneliness in society - be it of the aged, the at-risk population, or the new immigrant or refugee. My interests revolve around life in the street, the individual within the city, and one’s experiences of isolation or fitting in. In this digital age of increased atomisation of work, lifestyle and interaction, a concerted counter out-reach effort can help build community solidarity and a sense of belonging amongst all. Our neighbourhoods must include more than housing and commercial businesses: for people to meet, interact and gain a sense of empowerment, there is a need for appropriate public and free access gathering places.
My Urban Future includes the safeguarding of neighbourhood heritage and public meeting spaces (parks, halls of worship, libraries, theatres, etc) where all members of a community can share their stories and traditions to build understanding of the other, connections to those living in their midst, and a rich civil society.
Laurie Neale is a heritage expert, architect and artist. A professional architect (McGill), Laurie wrote her Master’s thesis (Bartlett School of Architecture & Planning, UCL) on the effects of our urban architecture and spaces on individual perception, behaviour and social interaction, through the theory and methodology of Space Syntax.
Living in Europe for 3 decades (The Hague, Brussels), she worked at Europa Nostra, the leading citizens’ movement to protect and celebrate Europe’s cultural and natural heritage. On staff until 2011, she in turn managed the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards; was head of Communications; and head of the Heritage in Danger programme. She has been a member of EN’s Council since 2012, and the Advisory Panel for its 7 Most Endangered programme since 2017. She has been an expert evaluator of cultural heritage projects and advisor for a number of European and International stakeholders (EEA+Norway Grants FMO, ASEF, Europeana, Historiana, the Netherlands National Commission to UNESCO) and is a member of ICOMOS Nederland.
Resettled in Montreal since 2014, Laurie is engaged with local and national heritage and sustainable city communities while pursuing a Fine Arts degree in sculpture at Concordia University. She works in multiple disciplines and materials and focuses on conveying messages of social-spatial dialectics.