New London Architecture

NLA Expert Panel on Tall Buildings

Friday 10 June 2022

In the last meeting of the Expert Panel on Tall Buildings of this cycle, and after the launch of the latest NLA London Tall Buildings Survey, the group met to discuss the findings and suggest new ways of framing the role of tall buildings in London. 
 
  • Starting with design quality, experts around the table agreed that, considering emerging design codes and tall buildings SPDs, tall buildings should be of the best quality, integrated into the public realm, and where possible impacts on local environment should be mitigated by design. As the Survey is coming to its tenth anniversary, the group suggested we capture the legacy of tall buildings in terms of architectural design and celebrate best practice. 
 
  • But how can tall buildings be as accessible as possible to the public and local communities? When it comes to safety and accessibility, tall buildings can offer the opportunity to create neighbourhoods that enhance the relationships between tall buildings’ residents and surrounding communities. Therefore, tall buildings need to be mixed-use, safe, flexible and adaptable to change, which brings us to the topic of sustainability. 
 
  • Sustainability of tall buildings is another key aspect, especially how they sit in the context of the London Plan and other new certification regimes. The group agreed net zero carbon strategies for tall buildings should include: 
    • for whole life carbon, retrofit tall buildings where possible, if not mitigate the demolition of existing buildings on a given plot and replacing them with a new tall building through a long-term year time frame 
    • communicate the benefits of a well-connected PTAL-rated tall building compared to a certified net zero building in the suburbs or rural areas 
    • consider operational carbon aspects for a tall building from inception, design, construction, operation and end of current use, before regenerating into the next cycle
    • formulate a common mechanism for measuring and predicting carbon emissions, specifically for a proposed tall building, allowing an “apples with apples” comparison between each project
 
These recommendations will feed into the New London Agenda, NLA’s multi-year project that will develop a joined-up vision for London to be presented to the next mayoral candidates, and will inform the next edition of the London Tall Buildings Survey. 

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