Tag Archives: infrastructure

The future of architecture – David Patterson

We asked ten architects – each of whom joined Make in a different year since 2004 – to write about how they see architecture and the built environment changing over the next ten years. Here is the second instalment.

 

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David Patterson
Make Partner since 2005

By 2024 the population of London will have increased to an unprecedented level. While this is representative of London’s success globally, it also places significant pressure on the city’s already overstrained infrastructure – in particular our streets, which have lost their sense of purpose. Over the next ten years we will need to fundamentally rethink how our streets are used.

London is world-famous for its green parks and squares, which make a significant contribution to the unique qualities of the urban environment. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the city’s streets. Clogged with traffic, they are hostile to pedestrians and cyclists. This has not always been the case; in the recent past our streets had a real sense of purpose – they were destinations in themselves, places to go to rather than go through. They were elaborately balanced in order to meet a variety of different needs. Today they have lost that sense of purpose – the balance is firmly in favour of the car, above all else. Our streets provide a significant opportunity to improve the quality of life of the people who use them; they should be an integral part of our built environment rather than a separate entity.

We urgently need to rediscover our streets’ sense of purpose, in order for them to become destinations rather than routes to other destinations. I see our role as architects becoming more significant in creating streets which address this. If we are to successfully meet the needs of our increasing population, this transformation will become critical over the next decade.

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Safer streets for all

In just one two-week period late last year, six people lost their lives while cycling through London’s streets. In addition to the inevitable questions about safety and the calls for quick, preventative action, there is also a need to ask how we plan to support moves towards more sustainable transport options in the long term.

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The networks that connect communities underpin the work that we, as architects, do to create buildings, streets and spaces that are fit for tomorrow. People should feel as if they can move through a city with ease and comfort and an holistic approach to infrastructure planning is needed to bring this ambition to life.

Through good design we can remove the need for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians to jostle for position on our roads and make getting from A to B much less challenging that it often is now. After decades spent accommodating more and more motor vehicles, we’re now returning to a time of putting people first.

London’s complex mix of the old and the new gives us the ideal opportunity to achieve this. High streets that have been redesigned to force cars to move more slowly and allow pedestrians to move around safely attract shoppers and visitors and create places for people to meet. Oxford Circus, for example, has been transformed through the removal of clutter from the pavements and by introducing clear routes and crossings for people.

Regeneration schemes, such as the Heygate Estate at Elephant & Castle, promise wider reaching benefits. The scheme aims to reconnect communities that have suffered because of past errors which left them isolated from their surroundings, and shift the balance away from a dependence on vehicles. Instead, the focus is on the benefits that can be derived from having easy access to an integrated public transport network and open spaces that encourage social interaction. Walking and cycling are promoted through the provision of appropriate facilities and safe, family-friendly cycling lanes.

There are no easy answers to the challenges we face as we move towards more sustainable transport options and the infrastructure needed to support them. And of course, we’ll only find solutions if we work with local communities to understand the issues. However, I believe the one area that requires consistency is our collective commitment to high quality design. This is something that Sir Terry Farrell is looking into as part of his review of architecture and the built environment in England. His findings are expected shortly and I would welcome any recommendations that help us break down barriers in communities and connect people quickly, safely and sustainably.

Originally posted on Ken Shuttleworth's Building magazine column.

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Images: Rebecca Morrison and David Hunter
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Electricity Pylon Competition

The Royal Institute of British Architects on behalf of the Department of Energy and Climate Change and National Grid set the challenge: design a pylon that has the potential to deliver for future generations, whilst balancing the needs of local communities and preserving the beauty of the countryside.

There are more than 88,000 pylons in the UK but the familiar steel lattice tower has barely changed since the 1920s. So the competition called for designs for a new generation of pylon.

Taking inspiration from the spaces between pylons, we created a series of beautiful, ornate structures which offer an elegant, attractive alternative to conventional pylon design. Influenced by gentle flowing forms such as spiders’ webs, ribbons or Celtic calligraphy, our simple design is sturdy and functional while appearing delicate and fragile.

Read the full article > 

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