New London Architecture

Asking the experts

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Lucie Murray

Lucie Murray

Head of Policy, Research & Intelligence

Mark Rowe

Principal
Penoyre & Prasad

Jonny Popper

Managing Director
London Communications Agency

Katrina Kostic Samen

Head of Workplace Strategy and Design
KKS Savills

Jonathan Burroughs

CEO
Creative Places

Jo McCafferty

Director
Levitt Bernstein

Heath Harvey

Project Play Lead
Argent Related

Arita Morris

Director
Child Graddon Lewis

Stuart Baillie

Head of Planning
Knight Frank

Jennifer Ross

Founding Director and Consultant
Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design

Ashley Bateson

Partner & Head of Sustainability
Hoare Lea

Comprising key thinkers and practitioners in their field, NLA’s expert panels represent all professions within the built environment, across both public and private sectors. They have been busy proposing potential solutions and providing critical leadership for the capital and all its concerns. The transformational role they have played in how we influence policy, formulate our research, and shape our programme cannot be over emphasised.

We thank everyone for their hard work this past year. As we embark on a new year of meetings, inviting new experts to join us, we take a moment to reflect. Here you will find reports of the past year and the ambitions for the year ahead. The chairs of our expert panels will remain in post for a second year in order to help us deliver on these goals. Collectively we will be working across all panels on NLA’s ambitions for the future and how we might build a resilient and equitable future for London. All of the goals set out below are critical in achieving this, and we look forward to more fruitful and productive meetings, warmly welcoming new members and inviting past members to continue to advise and influence the direction of travel.

Here we have a round up written by our expert panel chairs, outlining what lies ahead for our panels. We’ve since added expert panels on education, retail and hospitality, industrial and logistics and built environment technology — we’re looking forward to seeing the products of these discussions over the next few months and joining them up with the others on our collective ambitions.
HEALTHCARE

HEALTHCARE

Chair: Mark Rowe
Principal, Penoyre & Prasad

The past year has seen the inception of an unprecedented number of large-scale healthcare projects across London and the UK. As many of our participants are actively engaged with the nascent new hospitals programme, while also grappling with the more immediate practical COVID response, the expert panel provided a space in which to step back and discuss some of the more strategic issues which will shape the sector in years to come. Topics have included:

• The impact of technology on service delivery. Turbocharged by the pandemic, telehealth and e-health have challenged many of us to refit past projects and rethink future ones
• Within a more technologically driven and pandemically defensive healthcare estate, how do we protect the basic qualities of a humane architecture in terms of space, scale,
light, views, and materiality within clinically driven briefs?
• The road to true zero carbon. We discussed how the NHS’s ambitious new targets are meshing with those of the New London Plan and the role of MMC in delivering to them
• How does healthcare infrastructure best inhabit the city? How do hospital megastructures engage with and enrich the natural grain of London? Where are the opportunities for atomisation and beneficial colocations? We intend to revisit these themes through the coming year, broadening out the discussion and inviting speakers and collaborators with the most radical thoughts on how our healthcare service is set to evolve, what our industry should be doing in anticipation of those developments, and what role they could and should play in the wider life of the city.
PLANNING

PLANNING

Chair: Jonny Popper
Managing director and partner, London Communications Agency

Planning never stands still, and it was certainly the case in the last 12 months: pretty shortly after the panel was formed, the government published its ‘Planning for the Future’ white paper!

That sprung us into action as, although we all had our own (mostly strongly held) views about the proposals, it was vital to get the input of the NLA’s membership base, especially given its diverse representation across architecture, development, planning, consultancy, policy making and other fields.

We therefore conducted a comprehensive membership survey, the results of which informed a detailed policy response to the consultation which we published openly, with our key recommendations announced to the media and shared with key stakeholders.

Other topics discussed during the year included the impact of the proposed changes to permitted development rights; the final published London Plan following the imposed changes by the secretary of state; and the best use of social value in the planning system. Looking ahead, in the next 12 months we will focus on:

• Assessing the government’s detailed proposals for planning
reform, and making further representations to consultations
• Understanding the impact of design codes and how they will
take shape in practice
• Understanding how the digitisation of the planning system
will come forward, and the results of the first pilots
• Analysing the ongoing political tensions between the
GLA and central government, and how this is affecting
planning decisions
• Tracking the Mayor of London’s agenda in his second
term, especially with regard to supporting London’s
recovery post-COVID.
WORK

WORK

Chair: Katrina Kostic Samen
Head of workplace strategy and design, KKS Savills

The expert panel on work focused specifically on future office space in London, looking at issues from space standards to health and wellbeing, supply and demand, commuting and the future of office locations and typologies. The panel split into subgroups to debate specific topics determined at the first meeting.

Occupier trends: Occupier’s concerns and needs? Key concerns are around staff health and wellbeing, including choice and flexibility, travel behaviours, collaboration and sociability, and workplace experience. Brand embodiment and safeguarding culture is another central concern.

Workplace design transformation: What will be the intermediate and long-term changes to the workplace? Hyper-flexibility and variety of experiences will be central, and we can learn from the retail/hospitality sector. Diversity and inclusion will be key to ensure a human-centred approach to the workplace, with mental health at the top of the agenda.

Base building design impact: What will be the impact, post-COVID, on base building specification and design? Will there be greater engagement between occupier and landlords? What are the intermediate and long-term changes that will create an ecology of the workplace with impacts on public realm, leisure and culture, well-being, climate change and investor sentiment? ESG will have increasing importance to the value of an asset.

Each sub-group presented their team’s findings in October 2020 and helped inform the NLA research report WRK/LDN: Office Revolution, launched in May 2021. As part of this research, NLA conducted a survey to understand the changing demands on the workplace, and in April we analysed the results. The survey covered a wide range of topics from activities best served in the office to green travel initiatives. The panel agreed that this period should be a significant driver for innovation and creativity, that designers will be asked tough questions and clients will want everything, and designers will be working harder to deliver the client’s wish list. 

Moving to the next cycle, we will focus on asking ‘what has changed?’, as well as monitoring industry trends:

• Will occupiers taking less space become a reality?
• How will the tenant, landlord and community relationships
evolve and what will be the effect on the high street?
• ESG: how will the environmental and social agenda evolve
and what changes to governance?
• Psychological: workplace/workforce and behavioural
change — what have we learned?
• Office specifications: how will the way we design offices and
buildings evolve?
SCIENCE, TECH AND INNOVATION

SCIENCE, TECH AND INNOVATION

Chair: Jonathan Burroughs
CEO, Creative Places

Our panel spent time in 2020/2021 assessing the ways we can bring some helpful thought leadership to planning, building design and innovation district development in a way that ensures innovation districts can become ever more impactful, green and inclusive. Those involved with science and technology are taking ever more interest in these issues.

To help influence how the built environment and its use evolve in an ever-better way, these are the topic areas we ultimately focused on to explore further in the year ahead:

• How can universities, research institutes, education providers and other stakeholders in innovation districts best grow science, technology and innovation in a way that benefits all—including businesses and residents in the area? We would like to link into other existing research, using and building on our knowledge and skills, rather than undertake extensive primary research, but it may be that some case study projects in London will be helpful
• Creation of wet laboratories that can be delivered and operated in a way that moves us towards carbon net zero—hopefully helping the industry move towards better benchmarking of such floor space and ultimately supporting iinitiatives towards an ever-greener economy
• Continuing to feed into the work of other expert panels and the topics covered by NLA, where we can make a positive contribution
• Topics that arise during the year and which merit quick and responsive thought leadership commentary.
HOUSING

HOUSING

Chair: Jo McCafferty
Director, Levitt Bernstein

Reflecting over the past year as chair of NLA’s housing expert panel, we have certainly accelerated emerging policy and discourse on a number of critical areas within housing, and shaped the NLA programme, which, given the past 16 months of collective isolation, is more vital than ever. Our first online session ambitiously identified our key overarching themes for the year as: affordability, distribution and density, tenure, sustainability, design and planning.

Our first focus was our detailed consultation response to the mayor’s Good Housing for All Londoners SPG. The guidance is now being edited and redrafted and we are hopeful that the impact of COVID and the climate emergency will be recognised in this new draft. An exploration of the design of building sustainable housing affordably followed, with new and retrofit case studies from Mikhail Riches and PDP London.

Our final meeting, joined by Stuart Bailie, June Barnes and Dickon Robinson, investigated the challenges of the design, maintenance and lifetime cost of residential tall buildings and the current lack of detailed policy design guidance.

So what next? We will dissect housing in London through the lens of these three key themes: people, place and planet. Our discussion and research will question:

• How communities can shape their own neighbourhoods
• How young people can be at the heart of this process
• How residential districts across London have been impacted by COVID
• How those commissioning, managing and designing housing respond to this impact
• How this might support the acceleration of a truly zero-carbon built environment.

Looking forward to it.
WELLBEING

WELLBEING

Chair: Heath Harvey
Project lead, Argent LLP

If ever there was a year where wellness was pushed to the front of our agendas, 2020 was it. With lockdown, limited outdoor time and the need to work from home, our wellbeing needs were personally reappraised and a greater appreciation of how the built environment can and must deliver healthy outcomes for society considered.

Over the past year the NLA expert panel on wellbeing has reviewed key subjects, from healthy streets to later living. Mental health also formed part of the panel’s agenda, particularly as pressures grow in uncertain economic times. The challenge of implementing a people-centric approach to delivering wellbeing and to pushing beyond initiatives such as green open spaces and active travel to less trodden enablers and disablers of wellbeing$—$social prescribing and means of building social resilience into communities and societies—were discussed, along with the need for an evidence-based approach to wellbeing. The panel prescribed the need to take a tough, honest and more scientific approach to assessing effective wellbeing within the built environment. In a period where society values the NHS more than ever before, we need to review how our sector is or isn’t supporting the nation’s health.

In the year ahead the next panel will maintain its focus on:

• Healthy buildings
• The changing needs of office workers and the challenges of flexible working
• Space standards and the implications of repurposed commercial and retail to residential.
TALL BUILDINGS

TALL BUILDINGS

Chair: Stuart Baillie
Partner and head of town planning, Knight Frank

During its meetings of 2020/21, the panel quickly identified key issues for tall buildings being public perception, sustainability and embodied carbon measurement and planning policy evolutions. Building safety and cost escalations were also recurring topics of discussion.

In the final panel session, the role and opportunity for tall buildings in the ’15-minute city’ concept was explored. The panel also reported sustained levels of interest in tall buildings projects including the represented local planning authorities (the City and Tower Hamlets) reporting continued flow of new planning applications and schemes moving through construction phases.

The centrepiece of the NLA’s Tall Buildings programme remains the London Tall Buildings Survey, which once again saw an increase to 587 tall buildings in the pipeline in 2020, a decrease in the volume of new schemes entering the pipeline and a marked decrease in construction starts, yet an increase in tall building completions (35 in total).

Looking ahead, the next iteration of the panel should explore:

• How to better measure the sustainability of tall buildings, including the construction process, lifecycle considerations and ‘15-minute city’ context
• Whether the NLA’s 20+ storey definition of a tall building remains relevant in the context of the new London Plan context of six storeys and above
• Why the Tall Building Survey is seeing a build-up of planning permissions but limited progression towards construction
• Whether new London Plan policies are impacting delivery of tall buildings in London.
TECHNICAL COMPETENCY

TECHNICAL COMPETENCY

Chair: Arita Morris 
Director, Child Graddon Lewis

The technical expert panel task was to inform NLA’s Building Better programme and provide thought-leadership on improving technical competency in the detailed design and delivery of buildings in London.

The starting point was the aftermath of the Grenfell disaster, the Hackitt Enquiry, and draft legislation (the building safety bill and the fire safety bill). Within this context, the expert panel focused on capability and skills, namely education, training, digital capability and designing for manufacture. Subgroup meetings also tackled the effectiveness of the current procurement framework, including the government’s green paper on public procurement, and emerging legislation on fire and building safety.

MMC and digital capability are becoming core skills that any professional within design and construction needs to embrace. This goes hand in hand with exploiting BIM, from digital construction techniques, to leveraging data to monitor performance and safety of buildings. But the cultural shift to enable new ways of working is patchy, despite having all tools needed, so why isn’t this our ‘Henry Ford’ moment?

The panel discussed future design roles, leadership and skills that are changing as specialisms continue to emerge, challenging the traditional architect role. The most competent people to design and construct buildings may not look the same as today. Material science, for example, has been disassociated from design but could provide opportunities to develop materials that are safer and more sustainable.

Planning for a changing technical landscape makes it clear that embracing knowledge and innovation are fundamental to both maintaining a basic capability and keeping up with the fast-changing methods, tools and materials that create buildings.

The expert panel will continue to explore:
• Digital capability and MMC, setting out the basics and common language of DfM, alongside emerging roles and professional expertise in this field
• ‘Retrofitting for the future’, meaning how should buildings designed today embed circular economy principles so that they are capable of being effectively repurposed many years in the future
• Fire safety, which will continue to be a focus topic with regular update
• What the future design team will look like and what skills are likely to be needed
• Evolving competency, and how best to plan for a changing technical landscape
•Emerging legislation in relation to building safety and construction.
TRANSPORT

TRANSPORT

Chair: Jennifer Ross
Consultant, Tibbalds

Over the past year, with London moving through various lockdowns, the expert panel on transport has spent time studying the impact of the pandemic on how people move around the city, and the temporary and long-term interventions that support more walking and cycling.

Funding, behavioural change, big data and new technologies have all featured in discussions, with particular focus on key case studies of where things have been done well, in both inner and outer London. We’ve explored the impact of the pandemic on our public realm and streets. The discussions have informed a programme of webinars engaging the wider NLA network in the debate, with the key themes together in NLA’s flagship transport event, the Active Travel Summit.

The next year will be telling in what short-term transport interventions can last the test of time as people start to move around more. We’ll be studying these developments in our meetings, as well as the key points below:

• Understanding the ‘new normal’: monitoring post-pandemic travel patterns to inform future policy and identify challenges and opportunities for travel in London
• Emerging technology: embracing new technology to improve journeys, enable mode shift and decarbonise London. This includes understanding the impacts of the e-scooter trial and considering the potential for road user charging
• Inclusive streets and transport: creating a fair and equitable transport system. Taking lessons learned from the COVID-19 response to ensure our streets are accessible to all
• Quality and connectivity: focusing on maintaining momentum and improving quality as temporary street space measures are made permanent. Enabling more holistic planning, plugging the gaps and creating a connected network
• Collaboration and funding: Breaking out of silos, broadening the conversation and incentivising collaboration. Exploring opportunities for third-party funding and how to do more with less. For the year ahead, expert panellist Bruce McVean will take on the role of chair and guide the panel on these objectives, whilst Jennifer Ross moves across to the planning expert panel.
NET ZERO

NET ZERO

Chair: Ashley Bateson 
Partner, Hoare Lea

This expert panel has provided an excellent forum for NLA members and policy stakeholders to share insights on the key opportunities for achieving a net zero London. The panel is passionate about the need to embrace human and social objectives, while recognising the environmental imperative of decarbonising London. We appreciate that targeting zero carbon will significantly change how we design, build and operate buildings, and perhaps even redefine beauty. The recent NLA Zero Carbon London report highlighted many examples of best practice in meeting the challenge.

The panel also wants to influence policy and regulations. To this end we responded to the government’s consultation on future building standards, and recommended the next and future regulations become much more demanding, with improved enforcement. Our output can be found on nla.london.

We identify the key issues for net zero development as:

• Prioritising refurbishment and reuse of buildings in the first instance, to minimise embodied carbon in new construction
• Retrofitting existing buildings to avoid reliance on fossil fuels
• Reinforcing the principle of best practice being long-life, loose-fit and low-energy
• Overcoming the barriers to using timber in construction
• Designing for climate adaptation to ensure we provide long-term healthy conditions for occupants, including mitigating overheating risk
• Focusing on outcomes that are measurable and verifiable.

We will focus on some of these topics in the forthcoming Resilient London research project and our other outputs and events over the coming year.


Lucie Murray

Lucie Murray

Head of Policy, Research & Intelligence

Mark Rowe

Principal
Penoyre & Prasad

Jonny Popper

Managing Director
London Communications Agency

Katrina Kostic Samen

Head of Workplace Strategy and Design
KKS Savills

Jonathan Burroughs

CEO
Creative Places

Jo McCafferty

Director
Levitt Bernstein

Heath Harvey

Project Play Lead
Argent Related

Arita Morris

Director
Child Graddon Lewis

Stuart Baillie

Head of Planning
Knight Frank

Jennifer Ross

Founding Director and Consultant
Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design

Ashley Bateson

Partner & Head of Sustainability
Hoare Lea



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