Foreword: Peter Murray
The survey carried out by New London Architecture and GL Hearn in 2014, which revealed the number of tall buildings to be built in London, prompted considerable debate about the future shape of the city, its skyline and the quality of the places created at ground level. The debate frequently polarised into those who liked tall buildings and those that didn’t.
The answer is not a question of either/or; as this excellent study illustrates taller buildings do have a role within well-connected developments, provided they are integrated with other building types and contribute to the creation of successful streets and other public realm.
The NLA research showed that some people want to live in taller buildings, but the majority do not. Thus a mixed mode strategy with mid-rise development as the preferred solution to London’s housing needs is eminently sensible and democratic.
I welcome the serious work that HTA, Pollard Thomas Edwards, Levitt Bernstein and PRP have put into this research. There is a paucity of thinking on the topic of density. Half a century ago Lionel March and the Land Use and Built Form department at the University of Cambridge laid down the ground rules for lower rise high density development, and Sir Richard MacCormac carried out ground-breaking work on perimeter housing in Merton, following the principles set out by March. The architectural profession does not do enough to promulgate the benefits of its research and experience. This report is a welcome exception.
At a time when London is gearing up for a Mayoral election and the Greater London Authority is starting work on the new version of the London Plan, this study provides much food for thought as well as eminently sensible ways of shaping a liveable city.
Peter Murray is Chairman of New London Architecture and of The London Society