A report released last week aims to highlight the problems involved in high-density housing in London, offering 10 suggestions for how to create future developments that offer density while maintaining the UK capital's distinctive character. Produced as a follow-up to their 2007 report entitled "Superdensity", four UK housing specialists Pollard Thomas Edwards, HTA, Levitt Bernstein and PRP Architects have produced "Superdensity: The Sequel," aiming to address the dramatic changes that have taken place in London development over the intervening 8 years.
Read on for more of the report's aims and its 10 recommendations for future housing in London.
The report follows on from a wave of interest in London's tall buildings, after a landmark 2014 study by New London Architecture (NLA) which revealed that the city was preparing for a major vertical boom, with 236 buildings over 20 stories in the pipeline (a figure that was recently revised upward to 263 in their 2015 follow-up). As a result of this study, The Architects' Journal and The Observer joined forces to launch the Skyline Campaign, urging the government to do something to control this rapid development - a proposal that was eventually rejected by London Mayor Boris Johnson.
However, though the new report cautions against "Hyperdense" development and ill-thought-through signature towers, it taes a more measured approach to the topic of skyscrapers. In the introduction, it adds "Though the rash of tall towers is a concern, this report is not another campaign against those per se – that genie is out of the bottle. Rather, it gives positive guidance on how to combine ambitious densities with popular and familiar urban forms."
Instead, the report focuses on maintaining character, diversity and affordability in London, something that has become increasingly problematic in the years since their first report. The report aims to find answers - and alternatives - to the question "is London becoming a victim of its own success, meeting demand by sacrificing the very distinctiveness which makes people want to live and work here?"
Through four essays by Andrew Beharrell (Pollard Thomas Edwards), Ben Derbyshire (HTA), Matthew Goulcher (Levitt Bernstein) and Andy von Bradsky (PRP Architects), the report expands on the following 10 key recommendations for new development:
- Adopt mid-rise development to meet London’s housing needs: The report argues that blocks of between 5 and 8 stories provide a surprisingly high density without sacrificing London's street life.
- Resist "hyperdensity": Defined as anything above 350 homes per hectare (142 homes per acre), the report recommends a presumption against "hyperdense" developments, saying they should only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.
- Integrate towers with street-based typologies: The report says that although "we must avoid trophy towers dropped at random into our unique city," it believes there is a place for taller building, provided they are well integrated with lower-rise buildings.
- Promote street life: The streets and squares of London "are the envy of the world," says the report, and they should be retained as the model for future development.
- Build on London’s tradition of mixed communities: Diverse communities are vital for economic and social health, and therefore recommends that future developments provide for a mixture of people of different income, age and household size.
- Provide a wider range of housing typologies: To accommodate London's increasing population of young and mobile workers, a wider variety of homes should be provided than just the standard model of long-stay homes for nuclear families.
- Harness space above public buildings: Public-sector land presents a good opportunity to provide more mixed-use developments, with space to build homes above schools, libraries, shops, cinemas and workspaces.
- Design for management: To avoid future social problems in new developments, it is important to produce a management plan and involve a housing manager as early as possible in the design process.
- Make service charges affordable for all: New developments should include rigorous projections of charges for shared services and spaces, to ensure that service charges can be made affordable for all.
- Develop new funding streams for long term management: Funding for long-term management of shared spaces should be under-written by capital endowments at the planning stage.
You can download the full report from their website here.
H/T BD Online