The city of London - Challenges wrapped within the inspiring Urban Fabric

The city of London – Challenges wrapped within the inspiring Urban Fabric

Wandering around the scrumptious streets of London is quite a serene experience. The handsome terraces, elegant squares providing debonair frames to a plethora of parks personify the fact that almost 14,000 people stay in each square kilometer.

The city of London - Challenges wrapped within the inspiring Urban Fabric
SOURCE: SUITCASE JOURNAL

The well-sketched urbanism of the city is evident from the fact that the number of people living and choosing to work in the city has constantly seen a surge. The roundabouts remain congested at the rush hours with air being heavier than usual. This has, however, led to generate productivity and efficiency of the city as a whole. Increased number of people residing in the city has given businesses the opportunity to seek out the desirable human resources, they have access to more workers and suppliers, the services become affordable such as health care, waste collection, and transportation when there are more seekers.

But there are some drawbacks as well. Urbanism used to be an escape from the regular world. People rush towards these cities in search of better living standards. However, things have changed drastically over the years. Especially, this year, it has been a complete revolution to what we used to define urban cities. The places where people were confident about a better lifestyle are the worst sufferers during the pandemic era. Designed to provide a solution to every possible condition for the foreseeable future, the cities failed to contain a virus and ended up becoming the victim instead.

The city of London - Challenges wrapped within the inspiring Urban Fabric
THUMBNAIL IMAGE; SOURCE: MICHAL AUGUSTINI

The city of London has witnessed a diverse range of architectural styles evolving from a variety of historical periods. The great eclecticism of the city stems from the long and rich cultural history, consistent redevelopments, destruction from London Blitz, and recognition of private property rights. All this has often prevented London to be planned on a large scale. And this is why it is less architecturally homogeneous than the other European cities like Paris, Vienna, and Rome. Having witnessed the great architectural heritage that ranges from Roman archaeological remains to the art deco Hoover Building, the city has come a long way. 

Talking about recent times, London has transformed and has seen immense growth in the last three decades. The city is larger and richer and has become a prominent global city leading through culture, finance, and technology. Home to more than 8.8 million residents, it is ready to accommodate 2 million more by the next three decades. Having plans on such expansion, the architecture is redrawing the city’s skylines with a plethora of regeneration projects. 

The city of London - Challenges wrapped within the inspiring Urban Fabric
SOURCE: OFFICE FOR NATIONAL STATISTICS

However, similar to a growing urban city where the number of immigrants outmans the number of native residents, London’s run of prosperity is also going through the usual urban headaches. And with time, they have even worsened. The city is losing its debonair. The urge to accommodate more and more has flipped over the strategic planning of the city. The traffic congestion is terrible, and the air is heavy with toxicity. The rising demands to live in the city of dreams have shattered the dreams of many who want to own a property in London as the land values have pushed the housing prices beyond the reach of an average man.

There is no surprise that the increased population density is generating economic returns. The compact cities provide better access to jobs and essential services. People often fall for the silver bullet but forget to look beyond the bling that is required to calculate the risks associated with it.

The increased density has led to more congestion, which requires a significant amount of investment in public transit systems. It also leads to increased housing costs that exacerbate inequality.

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Lessons from London

Walking down the lane to the 19th century, the city stepped ahead with a series of urban infrastructure projects that continue to serve the city even a couple of centuries later. London was the first city to operate the underground railway project. Opened in 1863, the London Underground today carries 5 million passengers per day.

Similarly, a vast network of drains and sewers was integrated for the 3 million population living in the city in the 1860s. The drainage network helped the city to overcome certain diseases like dysentery, typhoid, and cholera. The network now serves 8 million inhabitants. These far-sighted investments made centuries ago helped the city sustain the overburden of population and the related issues.

But, a walk through the streets of London today is enough to watch the city struggling to manage the population density. Despite a strong public transit system, people continue to drive the personal vehicles that have given rise to problems like terrible congestion and hazardous air pollution.

The city of London - Challenges wrapped within the inspiring Urban Fabric
SOURCE : FINANCIAL TIMES

The city is choking at roads and the problem has now extended to housing. The prices have doubled. The reason being the imbalance between supply and demand. On average, the city needs to deliver 50,000 homes per year to keep up with the increasing number of residents. Especially when the city plans to adopt more than 2 million people in the next few decades.

Thousands of people move to London every year for the economic and social opportunities associated with this extraordinary city. Its dynamism is due in no small part to its high population density. However, the city’s strained transport system and spiraling house prices underscore the importance of strategic government intervention to manage the risks of crowding so many people into such a small area. Large-scale investment in public transport and housing is essential to ensure that compact cities are also livable and affordable.

The city of London - Challenges wrapped within the inspiring Urban Fabric
SOURCE: BLOOMBERG

This has raised a question to be concerned about whether centralization in the city should remain unabated or whether there should be policies developed to support the development of suburban centers

The vision behind this is that the city is suffocating. Decentralization will ease the burden of expectations of the migrants who want to stay in London, as the development in the suburbs will increase job opportunities and reduce the trips to work hence relaxing the congestion.

London is a heavily centralized city. Intensifying the suburbs will satisfy the increasing housing demand in London without worrying about investing in the construction of new buildings. Moving people and job opportunities to suburbs will serve everyone in a better way.

The city of London is antagonistic to redefine urbanism. A place with million architectural styles with a myriad of plans needs to be responded to by identifying areas of potential urban change. The anarchic and fragmented growth needs to be steered to shape through fabricated intervention strategies.

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