As NLQ hits 25 issues young, we
felt it was time to come up with a new kind of cover for the new year, so asked architect Peter Barber to create a bespoke sketch for us to use. His brief? It was pretty open, but was broadly housing, to mark our special feature and NLA’s exhibition on
the subject, and of course London. Barber was generously forthcoming, but did so with a rallying cry made, as he said, as much in anger as it is in hope. Here was an aerial view of a low-rise, street-based, high-density neighbourhood, he said; the way London’s brown eld sites should
be developed, as a counterblast to ‘doughnut blocks’, high-rises and those who want London to sprawl into the countryside. ‘It is also a critique of the prevailing functionalist planning orthodoxy and its tick-box space and light standards’, Barber went on, ‘enshrined in ever-proliferating policy which consigns these kinds of sociable, walkable, properly compact urban forms to the historical scrap heap.’
Strong stuff. But London must certainly grapple with its housing crisis – or ‘emergency’ as it was deemed at one NLA session on
the issue this quarter. So Mayoral hopefuls including frontrunners Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan should make it their number one concern, as recommended in this edition’s Viewpoint, and in our Housing special with lessons from Europe and
further a eld. Happily the subject has some of the best brains working on
it, including New Londoner Sir Bob Kerslake, as well as initiatives such as that being undertaken by the Mayor’s Design Advisory Group, producing reports for the prospective new Mayor on what ‘good growth’ might mean for the capital in housing and other elds.There will also be the results of a design charrette held by the GLA, NLA and Arup, which may feed into the latest and crucial iteration of the London Plan.
One man creating residential for
the City fringe is Gerald Kaye, chief executive designate of Helical Bar, pro led in this issue. Meanwhile, Top of their Game this time is Fletcher Priest, which is also producing a housing masterplan near Cambridge on brown eld, former MOD land that the government is watching closely. And in our new feature on Next Generation practices making great strides in this and other sectors, we look at Ben Adams Architects and Coffey Architects. There is plenty more besides, including our Brie ng Notes section featuring topics as diverse as hotels, culture, workplace and education, as well as On Location looks at Croydon, the South Bank and the City. But housing London’s growing population is the cause célèbre underpinning all.
Happy New Year and enjoy the issue.
David Taylor, Editor