New London Architecture

15 years of London development

Friday 11 September 2020

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David Taylor

David Taylor

Editor, NLQ

NLA held a special, socially distanced private view of its new exhibition, The Changing Face of London earlier this week, along with a report chronicling 15 momentous years of change for the capital and a checklist for how the next 15 can be better.
 
The show, staged to mark NLA’s own 15th anniversary, revisits the first exhibition held in NLA’s galleries in 2005 to explore the changes that have transformed the capital over the interim. Launched on Wednesday 9 September along with a live virtual tour of the exhibition, the show is illustrated with dramatic ‘before and after’ shots by aerial photographer Jason Hawkes, with the exclusive ‘after’ photographs taken in recent months.

Peter Murray, NLA, introduces The Changing Face of London
Looking back

The Changing Face of Londonhighlights the years between 2005-2020 as an extraordinary period of growth and development, driven by a population explosion. In the last two decades, London’s population has risen by 1.8m to about 8.9m, more than Paris (0.9m), Copenhagen (0.2m), New York (0.7m), Toronto (1.2m) and Sydney (1.0m).
 
The number of jobs rose by 45 per cent, but housing has only increased by 18 per cent. Along with inward investment, mayoral strategies and rapid technological and social change, these factors have forever changed the urban landscape of London.
 
The Changing Face of London reflects on achievements, lessons learned and missed opportunities since 2005 and looks to the future, setting out NLA’s 15 aspirations for the next 15 years. The timing of the study is important, says NLA, as we experience a significant moment in London’s history when we have the chance to shape our city for the better in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Neil Manthorpe and Peter Heath, Atkins
The period examined in The Changing Face of London is bookended by momentous events. 2005 saw the combination of euphoria of London winning the bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games as well as the tragedy of the 7 July terror attacks on the transport system. In 2020, no event within living memory of most Londoners has affected the life of the capital as much as the Covid-19 pandemic with its dramatic and sudden shutdown of social and economic life. 
 
Both have left significant legacies: the former in the successful delivery of the Olympic Park and the regeneration of east London, ‘a real turning point in how Londoners perceive and use London.’ The latter, in an increased focus on ‘designing out’ terrorism and use of smart technologies and systems to create buildings and public spaces that feel open but are also safe. NLA explores how these significant historical events have influenced how the city is shaped.

Debbie Jackson, Westminster City Council, Emma Cariaga, British Land and Anna Thompson, The Building Centre
Looking forward
 
London faces many severe challenges, both economic and social, in the coming months and years. NLA’s report identifies two huge problems for London to deal with in the future: the environment — the speed of climate change — and social polarisation. The report argues that the current crisis offers a chance to show the world how a global city can reinvent itself in a way that is more sustainable and socially inclusive. 
 
The exhibition and publication showcases '50 areas of change’, major sites of regeneration and opportunity areas across London, providing key facts and dates, drivers for development as well as obstacles and future challenges for each one
 
The study identifies and delves deeper into 15 key areas, from Canary Wharf and the Royal Docks to King’s Cross and Stratford.The City Centre will host an exhibition focusing specifically on this period of change for the Square Mile, opening 23 September.
 
NLA warns that London’s growth will look very different over the next 15 years following the pandemic, and proposes a ‘check-list’ of 15 aspirationsfor a better future London.
 
Along with timelines, infographics, maps and contributions by key figures in the built environment who have played an important part in shaping London over this period, The Changing Face of London provides a unique document for tomorrow about this period in our most recent history.

Robert Gordon Clark, London Communications Agency, on The Changing Face of London
Peter Murray, Curator-in-chief, NLA, said: “The Changing Face of London chronicles a remarkable transformation of the capital. It illustrates the good, the bad and the ugly and provides a timely platform for the debate about how to shape the city as we emerge from the catastrophe of COVID19”.
 
Catherine Staniland, Director, NLA, said: ‘2005 marked the year that London won the bid to host the London Olympics, and a huge shift towards the regeneration of the East of London. The last 15 years have seen major mixed-use regeneration projects taking place across a number of central London sites, creating a much more dense city, and reducing London’s outward sprawl.In the next 15 years the real challenge will be creating much more flexible buildings and places, which are readily able to adapt to new uses and incorporate a mix of activities over time. London has always been a city of villages, and those centres which can accommodate a mix of housing, workplaces and leisure are likely to be most resilient in a post-Covid London.’
 
Robert Gordon Clark, Executive Chairman and study contributor, London Communications Agency, headline sponsorsof The Changing Face of London said: “In 2005 we were one of the 10 founding sponsors of the NLA and since then have worked with their fantastic team to promote the capital and debate how it should develop. We are delighted to see how the organisation has grown and prospered and congratulate them on their anniversary. I vividly remember the high of winning the Olympics on 6 July 2005 and the anticipation of the launch of the NLA the following day.  And then we all experienced the dreadful low of 7/7 and the decision to postpone the NLA’s launch.  15 years on we again mark London’s growth in challenging times. But what this exhibition, which we have been thrilled to sponsor, shows is that London remains a great city to invest in and long may that continue”.  

Sarah Yates, Researcher, The Changing Face of London said: “Our research focuses on the questions: what have we learned from how London has changed since 2005? And, now more than ever, how can we take forward these lessons to address the challenges we face? By examining key areas across the capital, and working with the people in NLA’s network who made this change happen, we’ve gathered a depth and breadth of insight that we hope proves informative and inspirational to all Londoners, and to those shaping the capital now and in the future.”   
 
 
The Changing Face of London exhibition
9 September – 9 February 
New London Architecture Galleries, The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London
WC1E 7BT
Opening times: Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm
Cost: Free 
 
The Changing Face of London – the City of London
23 September – 18 December
The City Centre, 80 Basinghall Street, London,EC2V 5AR
Opening times: Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm
Cost: Free 
 

Download the report

David Taylor

David Taylor

Editor, NLQ


Changing face of London

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