Insight Studies

NLA Insight Studies address the central issues affecting the shape of the capital through new independent research, public exhibitions and debates.


Upcoming and Past Insight Studies Toggle

Future Streets

This research seeks to investigate the impact and opportunity of technology and new mobility in London, looking at how multiple technological developments and new strategies help to promote new street-based mobility solutions, that are also multi-modal, socially inclusive, accessible and environmentally sustainable.

London is at a critical juncture in its policy and design to reimagine how we use the street which may require us to understand how we want to use the limited space to communicate and prioritise the city’s true values.

The research will be carried out over a period of six months, with a formal launch taking place in Autumn 2019 including a Private View, publication, exhibition and series of focused more

London's Retail: exploring what works

Retail remains the single largest private sector employer in the UK, with one in 10 people working in retail, and annual sales totalling £358bn.

From world-leading shopping street destinations, to neighbourhood high streets, markets, town centres and meanwhile spaces, London encompasses a diverse spectrum of retail environments. With the rise of rents, online retailing, new technologies and changing consumer expectations, London’s retail landscape is evolving fast to meet new demands. In anticipation of these shifts, how can the built environment sector adapt successfully for the future of retail in London? more

Public Housing: a London renaissance

The draft London Plan more than doubles the targets of some outer London boroughs, whilst the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says that London needs to deliver 100,000 homes. So how do councils deliver these huge increases? For the first time in 40 years we are starting to see substantial numbers of homes being delivered directly by councils, aided by the recent pledge by Mayor Sadiq Khan of £10million to help councils boost their housing design and planning teams. 
Seeking to remedy years of dwindling resources and expertise – and ultimately supply of housing – we are now witnessing a resurgent public sector, with improved capabilities, funding avenues and delivery mechanisms at hand. Yet, this next generation of projects must successfully rehabilitate perceptions of public housing, and work more comprehensively with communities to deliver these much needed homes. 
Councils are exploring new ways to deliver homes by setting up their own delivery vehicles; the decision to lift local authorities’ borrowing cap, announced in October 2018, will allow them to spend more money on housing. But these measures are not a silver bullet – even with more resources at their disposal, councils will still need to work together with private developers and housing associations in order to hit their targets. So how does this impact on London’s future housing delivery? How do we make the most efficient use of public land, of which housing estates are a significant part? 

NLA London Tall Buildings Survey 2019

With a pipeline of over 500 tall buildings either in planning, approved or under construction, as revealed by the 2018 NLA London Tall Buildings Survey, London is expected to see more of these clusters built over the next decade.

The NLA Annual Tall Buildings Survey 2019, an annual report that analyses the tall buildings pipeline in London, will launch in Spring 2019. The report will be accompanied by a two-month public exhibition, showcasing the most recent tall buildings in London, and will form the backdrop to a supporting programme of events, including conferences, talks, debates and building visits. 

Find out more here

Part of the NLA Tall Buildings Programme

Factory-made housing: a solution for London?

HTA Design LLP, Tide Construction Ltd - Apex House, Wembley © - Richard Southall

 With the current big push on factory-made housing, what opportunities and challenges does this present the future of housing in London? How are we employing innovative models of construction and delivery to meet the 66,000 homes needed each year? From innovative methodologies, intelligent systems and the supply chain, this piece of research will investigate the challenges in the various processes and illustrate the types of housing these methods produce. 

Knowledge Capital

Part of the NLA Education & Health Programme

This study examines the transformation of London’s education and medical sector estate. As the population grows, the capital continues to pioneer new technology and ground-breaking design to deliver enhanced teaching, research and health service facilities for all Londoners.

Knowledge Capital is accompanied by a publication, an exhibition and showcase of London education, innovation and health projects and initiatives, as well a three-month programme of events, including debates, talks and visits.

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NLA London Tall Buildings Survey 2018

City Cluster, including 1 Leadnhall by Make Architects for Brookfield

Part of the NLA Tall Building Programme

London faces increasing challenges in accommodating a growing population, expected to reach over 11 million people by 2050, while commitments to contain the sprawl within the Green Belt prompts questions on how to make better use of the scarce amount of land available. 

Recent years have seen a huge growth in the number of tall buildings going into the pipeline, showing that ‘building upwards’ is a response to densification. At the same time, concerns have grown, from both local communities and professionals, over the quality of design of these new towers, as well as on the need to protect London’s rich historic heritage, including questions on where new clusters of tall buildings would be more appropriate.

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London’s Towns: Shaping the polycentric city

October-December 2017

Part of the NLA London Boroughs programme

London’s Towns looks at the new wave of development coming forward in London’s zones 3-6 and examine how policy can support London’s growth as a polycentric city. Research examines the opportunity for housing-led, higher density, mixed-use redevelopment of London’s outer town centres; the impact of new transport investments in supporting orbital movement; and the changing relationship between the centre and the suburbs.

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London: Design Capital

May-June 2017

London: Design Capital uncovers the global reach of London’s built environment industries. Showcasing over 220 projects across 65 countries, from masterplans to individual projects, the Study celebrates the capital’s exceptional design, engineering, urban planning and consultancy skills, highlighting the skills and technologies being developed for global markets, and puts forth the value and future for London’s built environment industries in a post-Brexit world.


October-December 2016

Part of the NLA Work Programme

London is having to work harder than ever to compete on a global level to attract and retain the best talent. Availability, affordability and quality of workspace will be critical, yet space for commercial and industrial uses are under threat as the demand for housing pushes up land prices and planning policies favour conversion of offices to residential use. This Insight Study examines how London can ensure its future resilience through its provision of space and land for business.

New Ideas for Housing

Holmes Road Studios by Peter Barber Architects

October-December 2015

It is clear that there is no silver bullet that will increase the level of house building and make up for years of under investment. That is why the NLA sought new ideas from architects, contractors, manufacturers, economists and house builders. This study illustrates a wide range of ideas and approaches to the delivery of new homes – some that can be delivered within the current regulatory system, others need a shift in policies in planning and funding.

Public London

Kinetic Rain Garden © John Sturrock

April-June 2015

Public London examines the transformation of London's public spaces over the last decade. It covers the evolution of placemaking; connectivity of the city; ownership, funding and management of public space; how we measure the value of public space; and how London's public spaces will need to adapt to the needs of a growing city.

Smarter London

© Eric Fischer

October-December 2014

Smarter London explores how data, technology and analytics are changing the way we design, build and manage the city. It uncovers a host of exciting smart projects taking place in London and examines the role of data in the development of a single building to large-scale city-wide infrastructure projects such as Crossrail, as well as the new role that gaming plays in community consultation projects.

London’s Growing Up!

View From St Pauls towards The City - PROPOSED © Visualhouse & photographer Dan Lowe 2016

April-June 2014

London’s Growing Up! brings together a mass of data regarding planning applications for tall buildings that is available through the planning portals of local authorities, together with published and unpublished future plans for developments, in order to highlight some of the massive changes that are taking place in the capital over the next couple of decades.

Great Estates

October-December 2013

Much of the story of London's development can be traced through the historic ownership of large pieces of land which, through the on-going ownership of freehold assets and their lease terms, have created a resilient cycle of change and renewal. This insight study examines the evolution of London's Great Estates and their impact on the development of new large-scale areas of the capital under a single ownership.

Planes, Trains and Drains

March-May 2013

Planes, Drains and Trains examines the far-reaching changes to London’s infrastructure that are taking place and what needs to happen next to maintain London’s competitive position. With 1.25 million more people living in the capital in the next 20 years and 750,000 new jobs, the need for investment in London’s creaking infrastructure is overwhelming. So how do we speed up planning, financing and delivery of new projects?