The impact of Covid on working patterns, the rapidly changing high street and a significant change in planning use class orders have all prompted architects and urban designers to think about our role in reshaping our cities.
We are working with Transport for London on two station sites where we are considering the stations not only as transport hubs, but also as destinations in themselves – places that will breathe new life into the local community and provide facilities that might not have been considered previously.
Traditionally, many stations are a place to grab a coffee or drop off dry-cleaning as we pass through them. But with new working patterns, a shift towards homeworking and the ability not to be tied to a desk, our needs are changing.
We have been developing the core ideas of the 15- and 20-minute city, whereby all your daily needs can be provided within a 15- or 20-minute walk or cycle from home. This includes shopping, entertainment, education, healthcare and also work. If you no longer need to be at your desk, then why can’t the new centres we are developing have places to work, too?
This approach of developing new communities, in line with the model of the polycentric city, would encourage cities to develop as a network of nodes rather than just one central business district. London is already an example of the polycentric city, but could become even more so, with highly connected and sustainable transport links at its heart.
As these nodes develop and form even stronger and more vibrant communities, we think some of the traditional central business districts will start to encourage a more mixed use.
As human beings, we need to be connected, we thrive on coming together through collective endeavour. Cities are not going anywhere – despite what some might say – but their rhythm is changing and developing into a new model of living and working.
Jonathan Plant is managing director at Lipton Plant Architects