London, said Val Shawcross during a hustings for the mayoral candidates and their representatives, is at a crossroads. It certainly is in terms of being at the cusp of a new direction following Boris Johnson’s tenure of City Hall. But it is also in the run-up period to the next iteration of the London Plan. And this will be the most crucial yet, according to deputy planner Stewart Murray of the GLA, with the city grappling with the multifarious challenges a rapidly growing population throws up.
So this is why the NLA and others have been attempting to prepare the groundwork for both the new mayor as he - or she - takes up the role and as a new plan is put together. One of these initiatives is MDAG, the Mayor’s Design Advisory Group, which has been preparing four key reports on fundamental concerns over the last couple of years, taking guidance, ideas and counsel from leading built environment thinkers and players. Growing London, Public London, Ageing London and Shaping London aim to stimulate new thinking and procedures. Another initiative was a day-long Charrette held with Arup to try and garner more blue-sky thinking about what sort of London we want, or could have. Both figure in this issue in a ‘mayoral matters’ special, along with London Communications Agency’s Robert Gordon Clark’s take on the two main candidates for mayor.
Although housing will be the main topic under debate as we approach the May elections, transport will also be a key battleground, so this issue contains both a special feature on the Streets Ahead series of events, and coverage of housing initiatives including City Hall presentations from NLA’s housing winners and, at a domestic scale, the Don’t Move, Improve! competition.
There is also something of a focus on the City, with its director of the built environment Carolyn Dwer profiled as the New Londoner this time, and a separate interview with Sir Stuart Lipton, who has done so much to shape the Square Mile and will do so again with his firm’s 22 Bishopsgate ‘vertical village’. Our building review this time is Alphabeta, the new wave office building, where the City meets Shoreditch, while Top of Their Game in this issue is engineer AKTII, which is set to move into the White Collar Factory not a stone’s throw away and is celebrating the plum job of the next Serpentine Pavilion alongside Bjarke Ingels.
With London’s development fraternity set to descend on Cannes for MIPIM once more it is a good time to take stock on what the UK capital has in store. With a fair wind, a favourable economic climate even as the uncertainty of Europe rears its head – and the kind of groundwork for the mayor and London Plan being prepared – that crossroads can not just be negotiated, but passed with élan.
Enjoy the issue!
David Taylor, Editor