NextGen - visions for improving London

Thursday 12 May 2016

Deborah Dix, BDP © Christina Solomons

Some of the cream of the built environment’s young talent gathered last night to present their visions for improving London as part of the NLA’s new NextGen programme.

The event, a PechaKucha of eight quick-fire presentations held at the offices of Gardiner & Theobald, ranged from BDP architect Deborah Dix’s exploration of revitalising Bloomsbury via a ‘holistic, joined-up vision’ and masterplan for the University of London centred on Senate House and creation of 35,000m2 of additional spaces, to John Robertson Architects’ Yiannis Proestos and his vision for sensitive densification through ‘reimagining the garden’, rather than building on the Green Belt. ‘Densification is the only real option’, he said. ‘This is London. Spaces can’t just be one-trick ponies. They have to do more.’

In line with Mark Dytham’s original concept, each speaker was allowed 20 images, each on screen for 20 seconds, with Prachi Rampuria, Urban Designer, PDP using her time to look at ‘cultivating London’ to foster local distinctiveness, using a study and ‘systemic approach’ across professional boundaries, using Hammersmith as an example. Peter Watkins, Associate, Pollard Thomas Edwards, meanwhile, opted to investigate ‘capital estates’ – including ‘creative co-housing’ and the ‘collaborative mending’ of council estates to help deliver more affordable housing. Gardiner & Theobald partner Paul Oliver’s capital idea was to deliver a place, not a project, as evidenced at King’s Cross, with CIL money entrusted to the developer to provide better placemaking and thus ‘more happy people’. Orlagh McCauley, Senior Project Manager, Buro Four presented the case for providing more homes for families and older people, again through existing real estate, but by incentivizing downsizing. ‘I think there’s something that can be done to make sure the ageing population in London stay in London and benefit it’, she said. Louis Sullivan, Architect, KPF warned against the threat of global
homogenization, arguing that we should create a 21st century city which is ‘more knowledgeable, a bit more vernacular, and of its place’. London needs to do more, specifically, on better water management, said Sullivan, even in the face of NIMBY attitudes, a difficult planning system and political climate for necessary large infrastructure projects. Finally, Andrew Reynolds, Urban Designer, Arup looked at the likely impact of the night tube as a boost to the night economy, and particularly the creative industries, something that is mirrored in cities across the world (Rotterdam even has a ‘night mayor’). How could we use buildings more effectively to take advantage? ‘This isn’t just business-as-usual-plus’, said Reynolds. ‘I think it can do more and be a transformational element for the city.’

David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly 

This event marked the launch of the NLA NextGen series, for more information on how to get involved please click here.  


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