Urbanism & Communications Projects

Placeworks - communicating our built environment

Sarah Jarvis MA (Cantab) MPhil

I am an independent writer and consultant with professional training in both town planning and journalism, and a past Fellow of the RSA and the Academy of Urbanism.

As a writer I am primarily motivated by understanding how places work and what makes them distinctive, and I try to choose projects that will have a positive impact on both places and people.

I am particularly interested in improving communications between professional and non-professional audiences and understanding how local people as well as major organisations perceive their connections with a place. I have co-founded a new journal of urbanism, Urban Scrawl, and my painting also explores the way that we relate to, and are inspired by, the places where we live and work.

Currently based in London, I have also lived in Paris, New York and Dublin. In Britain I have contributed to multidisciplinary projects across the country, including five years as project manager with leading consultancy urbed, working on communication, action research and urban renaissance projects with public and private sector partners such as government departments, Regional Development Agencies, community groups and private developers.

Since 2009 I have worked with Better Bankside to write and edit the dbrief publications for the Bankside Logistics Group, an approach to communications that was recognised by the Mayor of London BIDs Award for Best Partnership in 2010. The judges remarked on the "excellent communications strategy ensuring stakeholders are aware of major infrastructure developments in the area”.

I have an MA in Geography from St John’s College, University of Cambridge, a graduate diploma in Journalism from City University London, and an MPhil in Town Planning from the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London. I was awarded the RTPI prize and a distinction for my thesis examining the relationship between conservation and development interests in the proposed World Heritage Sites in Liverpool and Manchester. I have written and co-written several travel guidebooks for Michelin and AA Publishing and trained on the Observer newspaper. I have contributed freelance articles to publications including The Guardian, New Urban Futures and Locum Destination Review.

In future I hope to bring my art and writing practices together more directly. Through my work in Bankside and London Bridge I have built up some knowledge of an historic city centre quarter in transition. Communicating that change through words and photographs, online or in print, is a quick and effective way to reach hundreds, even thousands of people. But it is often a means to an end, to convey information that can be seen and then, because it is ubiquitous, forgotten.

Exploring this process through oil painting invites a more deliberative engagement with the city - inviting, I hope, deeper thought on what is happening around us, bringing a new perspective to the way our surroundings evolve as this new topography emerges. And just like oil painting it is not just building up but also scraping back - the process of creating new structures brings the chance to explore beneath the surface being replaced and the archaeologist's trowel digs into the hidden city bringing a rediscovered past to the surface.

To find out more about current projects, please select from the project list to the left.