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Placing the market town: A place specific approach to the development of rural settlements

Through research by design, Matthew's PhD thesis develops a place-specific approach to rural market towns based on an in-depth mapping of place and the integration of new buildings into historic town fabrics.

A fifth of the population of Europe lives in towns of under 50,000 people. In many cases, these small settlements and market towns have a high historical and cultural value, but the desirability of these places conceals challenges of affordability, changing demographic needs and a decline in services provision that threaten their survival. Neither large enough to qualify as urban nor small enough to be treated as rural, market towns find themselves falling between measures aimed at urban or rural areas, leaving limited resources for projects.

Through design- and practice-based research, critical factors in successful small town place-making are identified and a place-specific alternative to current development strategies is proposed. An operational framework for design is developed through first-hand experience of Luigi Snozzi’s involvement in the Swiss town of Monte Carasso and a critique of its application to the English context, developed through literature and precedent studies. This is tested a series of sequential design studies in Ludlow and Ruthin.

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