Public London: 10 years of transforming spaces

Thursday 23 April – Saturday 11 July 2015

NLA Insight Study and 10th Anniversary exhibition

Temple Stairs ©Studio Octopi

Since the turn of the century, attitudes to the public realm in the capital have been transformed as we have come to understand that the spaces between London’s buildings – its streets, squares, green spaces, rivers and parks – are as important as the surrounding buildings in creating a more human city.

A host of projects to revitalise London’s public spaces have been implemented across the capital in recent years: the pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square, the transformation of the South Bank, the creation of the Olympic Park, together with smaller-scale initiatives to improve London’s high streets, rivers and parks, all of which have led London’s evolution into a more civilised and people-friendly metropolis.

Ten years ago, when NLA was founded, one of New London Architecture’s first exhibitions – ‘Public City' – studied projects proposed under Mayor Ken Livingstone’s hundred Public Spaces programme. Public London will look back over the decade, celebrating the best projects and initiatives and looking at the drivers behind our changing attitudes, including the standards set by the Great Estates, the expanding role of Business Improvement Districts over the last ten years, the impact of major infrastructure projects, cycling initiatives, government-led investments and regeneration programmes, temporary spaces and community-led initiatives.

It also looks forward to the next ten years, how projects like Crossrail’s public realm programme, the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling, and TfL’s classification of the ‘family of streets' will transform the capital, and how public realm delivery must evolve to meet the challenges of a growing city.

The crescent installation Never Mind the Bollards complements Public London and uses Store Street South Crescent as a canvas, illustrating the issues London's spaces and users face, showing the history of design elements we see in our public spaces and as a forum to consider how we might design and improve spaces so that they are more inclusive and offer more to all. For more information click here.

A variety of NLA events surrounding exhibition, Public London, and installation Never Mind the Bollards, will take place from Thursday 23 April until Saturday 11 July. The full programme supporting Public London and Never Mind the Bollards can be found below and bookings for each will open in due course - do check back for more details!

Public London breakfast talk: People need places
Thursday 18 June, 08:30-09:30 - for more details please click here

Never Mind the Bollards soapbox talk: The design and social history of our streets and public spaces
Thursday 18 June, 12:30-13:30 - for more details please click here

Public realm masterclasses
Tuesday 23 June, 12:00-14:00, 14:30-16:30  - for more details please click here

New London walking tour: Bloomsbury
Wednesday 24 June, 10:30-12:30 - to book a place click here

NLA briefing: London BID Summit
Thursday 25 June, 09:00-13:00 - for more details please click here

Never Mind the Bollards soapbox talk: What are the major issues affecting the design of street and public spaces today?
Friday 26 June, 12:30-13:30 - for more information please click here

Curator led tour of Never Mind the Bollards by Sarah Gaventa
Friday 10 July, 09:00 – 09:30 - to book a place click here

Never Mind the Bollards soapbox talk: The future of London’s public spaces
Friday 10 July, 12:30 – 13:30 - for more information click here

Associated events:

The Lost Gardens of West Hackney, a tour with LDA Design
Thursday 18 June, 18:30-20:00 - to book click here

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Download a copy of the Public London publication here.

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Public London:


Public London examines the transformation of London's public spaces over the last decade, forming a part of New London's Architecture's 10th anniversary year.


Never Mind the Bollards


This installation, curated by public realm expert Sarah Gaventa, will explore the design history and potential future of London’s public realm. Never Mind the Bollards takes place at the same time, and complements, Public London, which will showcase the best public space projects and initiatives in London over the last 10 years.


NLA Launches 10th Anniversary Programme


New London Architecture (NLA) – the independent forum and think tank on architecture, planning and development in the capital - today launches its 10th anniversary programme of exhibitions, research and events.