Shifting Gear


The City of Access: realising the walking and cycling city. Leaders: Petra Marko (Marko&Placemakers) Steve Smith (Urban Narrative). Students: Dominika Pilch, Joe Hicks, Sebastian Maher, Elliott Rawlinson, Emma Williams, Sam Pywell. Mentor: Cristina Gaidos

There is far more to this proposal than its title suggests. The project articulates in some detail the benefits of a major shift away from the 20th-century city shaped around motor vehicles, to a more multi-modal city. Instead of citizens being passively transported between the dispersed destinations, the project advocates active and autonomous movement modes of walking and cycling. If today’s London is for disengaged travel on the way to somewhere else, then, in the proposed ‘City of Access’, everywhere is somewhere to be actively enjoyed for its character and diversity of uses.

UN Sustainable Development Goals:
8 Decent Work and Economic Growth
9 Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure
11 Sustainable Cities & Communities

Also advocated is a re-localisation and intensification of the amorphously dispersed modern city into vibrantly mixed-use 15-minute cities, each accommodating within easy walking or cycling distance all aspects of urban life. The streets of the once vehicle-dominated primary grid connecting these will now be for pedestrians and cyclists, and the space once dedicated to vehicles given over to a range of community functions. These will range from islands of allotments to playgrounds and planting, including shade trees. Although many fewer of them, cars can still negotiate different routes through secondary streets while the primary streets will accommodate emergency and service vehicles – the latter at night only.

Particularly towards the cores of the 15-minute cities, along wide streets of the primary movement grid and close to public transit stations, diversity of use and density will be increased by new, taller buildings and upward extensions of old ones, giving an urban buzz devoid of traffic noise. Many other benefits will accrue from more efficient land use, less time wasted commuting, diminished pollution from exhausts and other greenhouse gases, as well as the health consequences of more exercise, cleaner air, less noise and stress, and absence of traffic accidents.


Design Think Tanks

How can design improve the way we live in cities? Design Think Tanks (DTTs) at 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.

Each year the LSA selects a shortlist of DTT topics to be studied from a long list of suggestions made by the LSA Practice Network. The study topics suggested are ones that require urgent consideration, innovative thinking and design solutions that will generate significant social and environmental progress and beneficial urban change.

Students elect to work on one of the shortlisted study topics in collaborative groups of between six and eight led by senior staff from the sponsoring practice that suggested the DTT study topic. Generally, at least one member of each study group works with the sponsoring practice. LSA Faculty work with the DTT leaders to guide students through the research and design process.

We asked fourth-year students at the London School of Architecture to share their proposals for transforming the lives of Londoners in the borough of Hackney. Within eight design think tanks, students and practices collaborated to reimagine how we occupy our cities, as well as our relationship to work, food and travel.