If I was the Mayor of London…. (UBC 5.0 in the pub)

Thursday 25 February – 6.00 till late, join at any time. 

Westminster Arms, 9 & 10 Storey Gate, London SW1P 3AT

This is the first time that Londoners can’t vote for an incumbent Mayor. No more Boris and no more Ken.

The election comes at a pivotal time for the capital; London is going to grow to 10 million in the next 15 years. Questions over affordable housing, air quality, how to fund transport infrastructure and possibility of leaving the European Union.

A new Mayor will have the opportunity to shape how London plans for this growth. As you would expect there are a lot of articles, research papers, reports and manifestos have been published offering ideas. Urbanistas Book Club invite you to debate these ideas and the future of London – asking how would you maintain London’s position in this period substantial growth ?

Reading list

The list below is not exclusive and if you have read other articles, reports or research that can help shape a good debate, please tell us

If you’re headed to the RICS ‘Valuation and Placemaking’ Event, feel free to join us afterwards (we’re deliberately just around the corner).


Urbanistas Book Club 4.0 Informal Urbanism vs Planning the Unexpected – 20 November 6.30pm

Urbanistas Book Club 4.0 Informal Urbanism vs Planning the Unexpected

Thursday Nov 20th   6.30 for 7pm

Location: Publica.     10 Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0DP
(recommended):  Sarah.Cary@britishland.com

Here comes Urbanistas Book Club 4.0.

In the last episode or UBC 3.0, we had a very heated debate on ‘Smart Cities’ where we concluded that no smart technology could ever equal or solve what cities have been doing very smartly all along but that they could sure help if the most value was given most and foremost to…. drum roll … well us, the people.

In UBC 4.0, we look into the informal in our cities and we ask:

Should cities enable informal developments, and all the creativity and resourcefulness they host? Or is there a reason we have state control of development in the first place? Are laws and rules and forward planning needed to help society be healthy and prosperous?  And what about collaborative, community development – should we, can we, be promoting this in everyday urban planning and design?

Much of the informal arises from rapid urbanisation, but it does seem like the informal urbanism of places like Caracas, Lagos or Rio has a lot to teach us about the future of our cities and how they function in cheaper, faster, smaller ways as argued by Rem Koohlaas et al. in Mutations. To experience the informal city almost firsthand, immerse yourself in the narrative voyage through the chaotic, crowded and glittering urban landscape of Bombay in Maximum City –  lots of ‘informal’ economy thrown in the mix too.

Or are we in danger of taking the life out of our cities by designing informality out of them: purely and simply razing them to the ground on the altar of health and safety covering up for political control?

Choose a series of photographs and illustrations on Hong Kong’s infamous Kowloon Walled City, or a three part analysis of the un-building of informal Buenos Aires, drawing links between architecture, economy and justice.

Finally, can the informal or ‘Unexpected’ be planned or built back into our cities? One of the basic expressions of that being to build your own home, Right to Build talks about how the UK government is promoting self-build. Another one is the appropriation of public space to experiment and get together in multiple ways which Caravanserai Canning Town are giving a 21st century go at.

The plan is to read one or two in the list below, and come together to debate the role of the informal in planning and urban design.

Let’s discuss:  How could the ideas discussed inform our work?

Reading List :


Urbanistas Book Club 3.0 Smart vs Humane Cities – 9th October 6.30pm

RSVP:  Sarah.Cary@britishland.com

UBC 3.0 Smart vs Humane Cities – 9th October

6.30 for a 7pm start, Future Cities Catapult, The Studio, Unit 2.21 Leathermarket, Weston Street, SE1 3ER

There’s a lot of buzz about the potential for data technology to radically change cities. ‘Smart’ cities are touted as the future of urban development and management.  Proponents argue that information technology can make cities more liveable, more resource efficient, perhaps more democratic.  Others rebut that focusing on the smart city obscures the value of people in cities, and ties local authorities to private technologies to function.

Where do you sit? Are technologies which integrate resource management  a human and workable solution to urban fiscal and environmental constraints?  Will future social media technologies enable better engagement with citizens – or is talking face to face more important?  And how would you use smart technology in your daily life and how you go about planning, building and living in cities?

Suggested Readings (you don’t have to read it all to participate):

Smart Cities, Anthony Townsend

Against the Smart City, Adam Greenfield  (kindle/PDF versions only)

The Electric City  (LSE Conference Paper) http://files.lsecities.net/files/2012/12/the-electric-city-newspaper.pdf

The Urbanistas Book Club is an opportunity for women to discuss and debate urban development issues and ideas but also to push one step further and suggest how those ideas can be used in our practice.