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Master planning the future city

De Markthal Rotterdam by MVRDV Architects (Image: Rotterdam Partners)

What does it take to create sustainable master plans for our cities and districts and what is the range of expertise involved to create sustainable plans that are flexible enough to accommodate development over the life of these projects? At our March forum being held at the Architectural Association, we hear from different master planners involved in development our UK cities and new towns as well as architects designing city plans in Europe and beyond.

Post-Brexit, the UK will be competing with other European cities for the best environments to attract workforce talent, with housing, schools, medical facilities, retail and entertainment as part of this mix.

In East London, Stratford City is a mixed use development on former railway land, intersected by High Speed 1 and is being developed as two parcels of land linked by a number of bridges. Developments include a large residential area, Europe's largest single retail development, an area for commercial offices and numerous hotels, community facilities and open spaces. Environmental specialists from Arup have contributed technical advice on a wide range of issues such as energy, sustainability, daylight and wind engineering. The firm has also provided master planning, infrastructure design and transport planning. Robust environmental mitigation strategies were identified while retaining enough flexibility to allow for change over the estimated 15 - 20 year development.

As master planner and architect, Sheppard Robson is taking a leading role - alongside Studio Egret West - in the design of the next stage of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP). The East Wick and Sweetwater project will provide approximately 1500 new homes - 30% of which are affordable - to create new residential-led neighbourhoods of a high architectural quality that feel connected to the surrounding communities and amenities. The scheme provides new vistas to the Olympic Velodrome and explores the opportunity to forge stronger links between Canal Park and Queen Elizabeth Park, encouraging people into the new development.

When we launched our Future Cities Forum in 2016, the first city that we researched was Rotterdam. After extensive bombing during the second world war, replacement housing had been built outside the centre of the city, leaving behind no nightlife to speak of and a desolate feeling after dark. The city authorities have tried to stimulate change and in 2014 architects MVRDV for developers Provast Nederland BV created the Markthal (at a cost of 175 million Euros). This is a new market hall with apartments positioned in a great arch above a public space with shopping and dining below and open after work hours to bring a new vibrancy to the centre.

Further afield In Germany, Foster + Partners have worked on a new master plan for the inner city of Duisburg, strengthening the city's transformation into a lively, green and sustainable city. Duisburg is part of a metropolis and faces competition form regional shopping centres and surrounding cities. In order to be competitive and to develop its identity, it must attract a well balanced mix of culture. business and residents. The master plan aims to strengthen the inner city as a local and regional focus for retail and leisure and consequently increase its density. This will create a sustainable urban environment where rich mixed-use activity supports population growth and greater reliance on public transport, bicycles and walking.

A regional population of just over 11 million people live just an hour away, placing Duisburg in a sound position. As Germany's second most well-connected city, a main catalyst for the master plan lies in developing existing links between public transport infrastructures. It is envisaged that the central retail area along the Konigstrasse spine will extend and connect with an improved central railway station and the interchange for private and public transport.

The master plan offers extensive retail areas for the development that are primarily residential, but also include offices, retail, culture and leisure facilities. As a result, the inner city population is expected to increase by 25 per cent, encouraging regeneration and attracting a wider socio-economic mix. At the northern boundary of the shopping area, the Rathausplatz will be reclaimed from parking and traffic spaces to become again a central urban focus for the regenerated historic fabric. Part of Duisburg's 114 km of water frontage has already been transformed in the Inner Harbour area from an underused industrial wasteland to an attractive, diverse urban environment.

Join us for an exciting morning of discussions around the key features of successful master planning.

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