Picture: Imperial College West campus at White City
The Director of Financial Strategy at Imperial College London, John Anderson, joined the third panel at "Intelligent Cities" at White City Place to discuss with Mitsui Fudosan's David Height and HOK's Daniel Hajjar how cities can create significant knowledge clusters in vibrant urban districts.
John explained how the university had grown at a compound rate of 7% throughout its 100 year history but had become constrained by its 14 acre site in 'Albertopolis" in South Kensington - next to London's museum quarter and the Royal College of Art, and expensive homes in white stucco terraces.
'We needed to grow to remain world class. We are a London institution and an urban one, so we looked for space in a borough where the council was supportive and that was White City in Hammersmith and Fulham.
David Height of Mitsui Fudosan concurred: "There's been a clear trend towards locating R&D in urban settings, such as in Boston, San Diego and San Francisco, with a focus on open innovation and collaboration with private sector partners."
Imperial has built a 35 storey tower next to the Westway close to the White City campus to provide 192 new homes including 60 at below market rates for the university's key workers.
John added, in response to questions about how Imperial addresses the cost of accommodation: "We bought land 8 years ago at £450 per square foot (in White City) but now even the affordable properties don't come in at under that level, so we have perpetuated the problem we came out here to fix - as land prices have risen around the presence of world class colleges. The question for local authorities and enlightened developers is how do you change the dynamic so that you can provide live, work and play for everybody in the city? "