Conference themes

Can London cope with its future growth? Is it really Europe's only global city? What is the impact of massive regeneration projects?

These are some of the questions that civic leaders, city-builders, architects and academics from around the world asked when they meet in London from 11 to 13 November 2005. The Mayors of Washington DC, Sao Paulo, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Edinburgh joined world-renowned urbanists Richard Rogers, Rem Koolhaas and Saskia Sassen to debate the future of a city facing momentous growth.

London’s demographic and economic boom - 800,000 more people and 400,000 more jobs in the next ten years - is fuelling a physical transformation of the 2,000 year-old city, making it a compelling backdrop to a debate on economic development, social integration and the everyday life experiences of people in the city. As London grows again, will it maintain its organic and open structure that has served it well through generations to accommodate migrant communities from all corners of the world?

Just as London’s municipal government became a model for the British empire in the late 19th century, London provides a new paradigm of urban governance and development at the start 21st century. The world is watching. The introduction of the Congestion charge, £10 billion investment in public transport, the adoption of 50 per cent affordable housing policies, the 2012 Olympics and its effect on the Thames Gateway are of truly global interest at a time when so many cities are facing exponential growth and mass migration.

Mayors and city leaders from UK (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester), Europe (Barcelona, Budapest, Naples, Amsterdam and Gdansk) and the Americas (Washington DC, Bogota and Sao Paulo) joined international urban experts to compare notes on how their cities were dealing with dramatic urban change. Core themes included how quality of life can be maintained by promoting health; and city environments that work for people of different generations and incomes.

To better understand the social impacts of current trends in London’s labour markets, housing, transport and public life, the Urban Age conference investigated the following key projects in North, South, West and East London:

  1. The redevelopment of White City and the formation of a knowledge-based economic cluster in West London
  2. The transformation of King’s Cross
  3. The Olympic Village and its legacy in the development of affordable housing in diverse and attractive neighbourhoods in the Lower Lea Valley in East London
  4. The regeneration of Elephant & Castle and the reintegration of residential communities to the city centre in South London

The Urban Age London conference was organised by the London School of Economics and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society. Local partners are: The Mayor’s Office at the Greater London Authority, Aula Barcelona, The Minerva LSE Research Group; LSE London Development Workshops, Corporation of London; CABE; and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Idea Stores