There was a conference this week, dedicated to some of the most pressing issues in London, and how our city can be made better. Centre for London got along a lot of speakers, including the Labour and Conservative mayoral candidates. But the most fun part was a PechaKucha (a presentation where 20 slides are projected for 20 seconds each) with five speakers rattling through their ideas. Here are a few of the best, complete with presenters’ slides.
Peter Murray, from New London Architecture, highlighted the Naked House. The idea is for ‘shells’ of houses and flats, which occupants can then partition up as they want. It creates flexible homes that are quick to build, and was one of the 10 winners of NLA’s competition to find new housing solutions for London.
Yes, those are real figures as pointed out by Annette Jezierska from Sustrans. Canada Water station is already logjammed during peak hours; how on earth is it going to cope with all these new people? Sustrans thinks the answer is a new walking and cycling bridge between Rotherhithe and Canary Wharf, which it believes could be open by 2020.
We’ve covered the Thames Baths project before, and Chris Romer-Lee was on hand at Centre for London to convince the audience of its benefits. Naturally filtered river water providing swimming spots by the London Eye and City Hall? This may well be on its way to becoming a reality no matter what a future mayor does.
Brian Girard from architects Kohn Pederson Fox talked about the challenges of making London’s housing denser if we’re actually going to build the new homes the city needs. He emphasised just how green London is, and how we shouldn’t lose that; and also that we need to remember what people use cities for — eating, socialising, relaxing, playing sport… Urban dwelling is about so much more than getting to and from our places of work. The above image is from a project KPF is currently working on in Japan, which combines a train station with office, retail, living and green space. We probably wouldn’t want to do that here, he said, but we could.
We also wanted to mention one other excellent comment of Brian’s, about integrating buildings into streets. “You need to be able to find the front door” of a building, he pointed out. And you can’t do that at the Barbican.
This is kind of a boring slide, but stay with us, because it represents a brilliant idea. Finn Williams from the Greater London Authority is helping to set up an agency that will lend out design and planning expertise to London boroughs to help speed up housebuilding. Councils don’t have the skills and builders are frustrated by the time it takes to work through the planning process; in fact, putting more resources into council planning departments is their number one ask. So builders, architects, planners and agencies have agreed to fund and provide assistance for a ‘Teach First‘ for planning. London needs to build more bloody houses; this could actually help that happen. It was wildly popular with the (admittedly nerdy) Centre for London conference audience.