How can design improve the way we live in cities? Six think tanks from the LSA put forward proposals to help meet the targets set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Design Think Tanks are collaborative projects between students and leading architectural practices at the London School of Architecture. The UN Sustainable Development Goals address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. They are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
The ‘last mile’ refers to the final leg of the journey of a person or product before it reaches its destination, typically a residence or a workspace. Accordingly, the last mile is the space we inhabit on a day-to-day basis. It should be healthy, clean, safe, inclusive and designed to encourage sustainable lifestyles and foster relationships and growth. But the rise of the on-demand economy and the associated increase in traffic is causing pollution, congestion and poor air quality and compromising the social function of London’s squares and streets.
Sadiq Khan has suggested that all personal deliveries in London will be banned by 2041. This provides an opportunity to introduce a new publicly-owned delivery network, which eradicates door-to-door deliveries and removes cars from our streets.
Internet-bought goods are delivered to consolidation centres based at strategic transport locations in the outer boroughs. From here packages are sent by new means of transport – including autonomous and electric vehicles – to neighbourhood distribution centres. These centres serve as pick-up points for packages as well as performing a variety of other civic social functions. It is envisaged that these centres will act as a place for people to gather and socialise.
We see this body of work as a call to action to those who have influence over London’s last miles. In particular, we advocate the creation of a new GLA Last Mile Taskforce charged with responsibility for a holistic approach, including the removal of light good vehicles from the roads, policy changes, support for autonomous vehicles and better public transport, and support for new technologies. The ultimate aim is to create a safe, clean, inclusive last mile where pedestrians and cyclists take precedence and communities can flourish and grow.