In the wake of COP21, the need to make our cities greener to limit global temperature and cut greenhouse gas emissions has returned to the global policy agenda. And in 2016, the future of London will be one of the key talking points of the election for a new mayor, at a time when the capital’s population is higher than it has ever been at 8.6 million. Fundamental shifts in the thinking and practice of how we deliver sustainable cities are essential to making a more liveable, adaptable urban future.
Open-City’s Green Sky Thinking Week for built environment professionals highlights and unpacks innovation and best practice that is happening now to help us build smarter cities. At its heart the programme is about sharing knowledge across industry sectors – architecture, engineering, development, placemaking, landscape, among many others. Most importantly, it focuses on the need for better, stronger and interdisciplinary collaborations as the way to achieving sustainable cities.
Green Sky Thinking 2016 focuses on three main themes:
The next 50 to 100 years could see a revolution in how we design, use and manage buildings andspaces. New technologies and data-sharing are already shaping a smart and sustainable future across building management, transport and city-wide infrastructure. Research into materials engineering and pioneering collaborations with scientific disciplines such as microbiology are generating prototypes for self-healing concrete, asphalt mixtures grown from microalgae and other new sustainable materials.
How do we really harness the power of data to deliver integrated systems with exponential sustainable benefits? How can wider take up and testing of new material be achieved? How can smarter technology and materials help to tackle the biggest strategic challenge of improving the quality of life in cities?
As London’s economy and population grow apace, we need thousands more homes, shops, public spaces and workplaces. At the same time the demand on infrastructure – transport, water and energy, as well as digital connectivity – has reached breaking point, and is under threat from the effects of extreme weather caused by climate change. But there are also growing expectations for the quality of the places where we live and work. At the same, what can we learn from best practice in other cities around the world and what can global sustainable exemplars teach us about creating a better London?
The London 2050 Infrastructure Plan outlines how better infrastructure can be delivered, but what are the real imperatives to building a smarter, greener and more liveable city? What strategies and approaches are needed at local neighbourhood and regional level?
The number of people aged 60 or over is projected to rise by nearly 50 per cent in the next 25 years across the UK, and the expected rise in chronic diseases means people will live more of their lives in poor health. London’s notoriously poor air quality, noise pollution and congestion is damaging its citizens’ health and wellbeing. The spaces, buildings and streets that we use every day must be safer, healthier and more welcoming. At the same time, world cities such as London must meet expectations for a high-quality environment and urban living to help drive economic growth.