There is nothing quite like a beautiful view and I am lucky enough to have one from my office window and it made me think about the importance of a ‘view’.

Ok so everyone has a view from their windows or sees views all around them but what makes a decent view – surely it’s something that engages you, interests you, draws you in and makes you want to look at it rather than away from it.  Dare I say it even ‘wows’ you.

Panoramic views can encompass natural landscapes like the Cornish Coastline or the Scottish Highlands Glen Coe, or fabulous well designed cityscapes like Sydney Harbour, downtown Manhattan from the Statten Island ferry or the view of St Pauls from Tate Modern. Think of beautifully planned streetscapes such as the Royal Crescent in Bath or something that has developed a little more eclectically over time such as St. Michael’s Hill in Bristol.

But we should also think about smaller scale views. Not only is it really important that design teams, which yes do include Planners, create new views and vistas from and to new development to integrate it into an existing street scene, which requires an understanding of context, but we should also think about the creation of interesting small focal points and routes that lead to unexpected places and views be they other buildings, street scenes and cityscapes, structures, open spaces, or a piece of public art.

It’s also vital to think about what someone would see from their window, not just wider views but elevations of nearby buildings. The texture and interest of elevations are so important, and I don’t just mean the windows themselves.  

Wouldn’t it be great to give people living and working in high density urban developments that face blank elevations something interesting to look at and couldn’t we just energise and jazz up commercial office cores. Surely this can be achieved through the use of materials, architectural details, perhaps some planting and a sprinkle of that magic ingredient – a little bit of imagination. Little things I know, but ……..

High quality design is so important to our aesthetic sensibilities and adding to existing views, creating new ones or protecting special existing ones is an integral part of the design process.

So what works for me other than the fabulous view from my office window.  Well  the view south across the city from St Michael’s HIll, the view north from Broad Street across the city, the excitement of walking through the small alleyways of Paintworks, the drama of The Circus in Bath  … the list is endless.  Check out my Pinterest boards ‘Views Glorious Views’, ‘Fabulous Facades’ and ‘Beautiful Urban Spaces’ for some images of some of my favourite views.

Think about what works for you and why and just as importantly what doesn’t and why . If you’re an Architect or urban designer reading this then think about this again and then again when you’re designing your next building or public space.  As a Planner I think it’s important to keep asking design teams to think about this issue.