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The Collaboratory Breakfast Roundtable Debate: Designing London, the importance of partnerships

Posted on 30 June 2016

The Collaboratory Breakfast Roundtable Debate: Designing London, the importance of partnerships

In June, the Mishcon de Reya real estate group held its first Collaboratory Breakfast Roundtable at Africa House.  This is the first in a series of events bringing together industry leaders to discuss the collaborations that are shaping our built environment.

These debates will aim to cover a variety of topics fundamental to the future of the sector.  The first in the series was themed around designing London and the importance of public/private partnerships.

The debate was chaired by Patricia Brown, deputy chair of the London Mayor's Design Advisory Group which recently published its 'Good Growth Agenda'.  This document offers key recommendations to set the conditions for successful growth in our capital city.  Patricia led the discussion with a presentation on the agenda and provoked a lively debate. Twenty five leading developers, architects, local authority leaders and other opinion-formers, came together to discuss how we can create the conditions for successful growth.

Throughout the debate, there was a strong emphasis on the changing needs of the people who inhabit different communities across London.  Decision makers will have to recognise these changes and adapt accordingly.  For example, as technology evolves there will be pressure on developers to create a city for the future.  As the city's public transport system improves, there will be less need to incorporate car parks into community planning.

Another interesting point made was that buildings, as a consumer product, should be treated by developers as a car or other tangible goods. This means developers must be aware of their customer base and the shift in consumers' needs.

One contributor observed that people relate to places, not buildings.  Therefore London should be celebrated as a series of different places and that is how growth should be handled.  Having one shared vision for the whole of London is not necessarily realistic.

Another contributor noted that people make the places that developers and planners design.  This suggests the need for developers to engage more with communities as those places evolve.

The debate identified four key factors: collaboration; place; space; and people. Our guests felt the industry should work at engaging with communities and local authorities, focusing on a long-term vision for place making.  Community consultations need to be managed more effectively.  One participant pointed out that frequently people want the same thing, but speak different languages. This emphasises the need for good facilitators to get the desired outcome.

A concluding comment which gained support around the table was that "a city that works for the older generation works for everyone".

A selection of photos of the event is available here.

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