New London Architecture

Democratic, pleasant, sustainable

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Camilla Siggaard Andersen

Practice Leader
Hassell

Camilla Siggaard Andersen summarises the latest Built Environment Technology Expert Panel from March 2024, which commenced its third cycle with an in-person meeting at the London Centre, welcoming returning members and new contributors.

In March 2024, the Built Environment Technology Expert Panel commenced its third cycle with an in-person meeting at the London Centre, welcoming a mix of returning members and new contributors. 

This meeting also marked the first gathering since the launch of the New London Agenda earlier in the year. The panel had made 22 distinct recommendations for this agenda, focusing on the democratic, human-centred, and sustainable integration of digital technologies across the built environment industries. 

During the first cycle, the panel’s primary concern was to establish a responsible approach for aligning these crucial aspects. The ‘Democratic City’ theme involves using technology as a communication tool to facilitate inclusive and informed dialogues between citizens and stakeholders. The ‘Pleasant City’ theme focuses on using technology to enhance environmental conditions and experiences of shared buildings, spaces, and mobility systems. The ‘Sustainable City’ theme sees technology as an operational tool, ensuring the safe, equitable, and efficient distribution of resources for present and future generations. 

In the second cycle, the panel delved deeper into four priority areas linked to these overarching topics: 

  1. The hardware of the software: Understanding the challenges of implementing unlimited digital solutions in a limited physical environment. 
  2. Universal metrics for local needs: Balancing viability (resources), feasibility (technology), and desirability (need) in large-scale urban data-sharing ecosystems. 
  3. Engaging communities: Utilising innovative Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to improve how we inform and communicate with citizens.
  4. Overcoming barriers to adoption: Addressing the challenges when new communication tools require their own language and skills of communication. 

The outcomes of these discussions are detailed in the whitepaper published alongside the New London Agenda. At the March meeting, the relevance of the overall themes and priority topics was broadly reaffirmed. Despite an increase in individual case studies and digital solutions, it also became clear that many opportunities at a systemic level remain untapped. Issues such as the continued reliance on non-digital documents in the planning system and persistent barriers to data-sharing between organisations were highlighted. The emergence of AI-based large language models (LLMs) was also noted as an area that requires further examination. 

Looking ahead, this year’s panel will focus on developing a selection of recommendations into actionable propositions, potentially in collaboration with public and private sector partners. Each working group is defined by a combination of three distinct prompts.

The working groups are: 

  1. Community Engagement + the New ‘Data for London’ Platform + Large Language Models 
    1. Problem statement (WiP): How might the vast amount of data that is made available through online data platforms be curated and communicated into useful community insights using LLM? 
    2. Theme alignment: Democratic City 
    3. Topic alignment: Topic 2 (Universal metrics for local needs) & Topic 3 (Engaging communities).  
  2. Circular Economy Software + Skills in Architecture + Artificial Intelligence
    1. Problem statement (WiP): How might we increase the adoption of circular economy software in architecture by using artificial intelligence in combination with an upskilling programme? 
    2. Theme alignment: Sustainable City 
    3. Topic alignment: Topic 1 (The hardware of the software) & Topic 4 (Overcoming barriers to adoption) 
  3.  Micro Data Centres + Community Integration + Infrastructure Business Models 
    1.  Problem statement (WiP): How might we develop a new infrastructure Data Centres + Community Integration + Infrastructure Business Models business model that encourages the implementation of micro data centres with increased community integration? 
    2. Theme alignment: Democratic City & Pleasant City 
    3.  Topic alignment: Topic 1 (The hardware of the software) & Topic 3 (Engaging communities) 

The panel welcomes requests and suggestions related to any of these propositions. 


Camilla Siggaard Andersen

Practice Leader
Hassell


Built Environment Technology

#NLABuiltEnvironmentTech


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