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The Making of the Modern City: January 2022 forum

Future Cities Forum is holding its first forum in 2022 on 14th January looking at issues facing the modern city. The event 'The Making of the Modern City' will have leading contributions from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority and abrdn PLC's real assets leadership team.

The IPA's Deputy Chief Executive, Matthew Vickerstaff, will be talking about the need for greater EV infrastructure to achieve sustainability goals, while the Global Head of Real Assets, Neil Slater at abrdn PLC will describe how investment strategies this coming year will support the re-shaping of shopping centres and city centre assets. Gavin King, Director at Chapman Taylor will be taking a look at the future of the office and work spaces and Gavin Miller, Director at architects MICA at the role of heritage in the regeneration of districts and shopping areas.

Over the last twenty months – through the extraordinary stresses and confinements of the global pandemic - we have seen an acceleration of the pressures that have been changing how we live in cities. Advances in communications technology, combined with lockdowns, has meant that organisations that are not involved in manufacturing can work remotely – successfully - without the need to enter a conventional office building.

This has had a profound impact on the ecosystem of businesses with physical premises that have traditionally supported office life in cities – hairdressers, sandwich shops, restaurants and bars, dry-cleaners, and other retail as well as transport services. Some towns and cities have proved more resilient than others.

Owners and asset managers have had to re-think the role of the office building towards a much more flexible multi-use role, designed to enhance collaboration, meeting and adaptable spaces, while accepting that some must be converted wholly or partly to residential or other uses.

Online shopping has boomed, cementing evolving trends that have been damaging many high streets since 2000. The John Lewis Partnership’s decision to convert the upper floors of the Oxford Street flagship store to residential is a sign of the changes wrought partly by Covid-19.

However, the drive towards Net Zero has encouraged local authorities and BIDs to invest in healthy streets programmes, taking out the car where possible. The onus put on cultural life, entertainment experiences, and higher education by some cities, has been a catalyst for the conversion of failing department stores into hotels and flexible university space – as well as a review of how public space works.

The UK government continues to drive more efficient transport and energy infrastructure for 2022 with the electrification of cities. The phased removal of diesel and petrol driven transport has presented new challenges for city authorities around energy supply and management, freight deliveries, with new design and construction costs for EV charging, conversion of roads for cycle traffic and new pedestrian public ream.


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