The three architects commissioned to come up with proposals for Heathrow City – the space created if the airport were to move east – were at the NLA this morning to outline their visions.
Gavin Miller, Partner, Rick Mather Architects, Darryl Chen, Partner, HawkinsBrown and Gerard Maccreanor, Director, Maccreanor Lavington talked through their schemes following an introduction to the topic by Richard Blakeway, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land & Property, GLA.
Heathrow, said Blakeway, was ‘an accident in history’, that had a long history of public objections to its creation or indeed its expansion. But it was ‘set up by a government willing to be interventionist and ruthless in its objectives’ – perhaps there were lessons for London today, he suggested. Moving the airport to a new site in the estuary could also help make a considerable impact on London’s housing deficit crisis. Blakeway said that the Heathrow site is around the same size as Kensington and Chelsea and could provide 150,000 homes for 300,000 residents, whereas the 38 Opportunity Areas across the whole of London are projected to provide 300,000.
RMA’s proposal gives the opportunity to stitch Heathrow and its landscape back into its immediate context and wider London, said Miller. The scheme uses the former runways to define the structure of this ‘city’, connecting 10 different character areas with linear parks, terminal buildings redeveloped and meanwhile’ uses to aid the transition from airport to new piece of city.
Chen said the HawkinsBrown proposition was all about three big ideas required by a big site, and the ‘romance of the sky’. These focused on creating UK’s first airship port to bring a boost to the way freight is distributed in the UK; a factory for homes, with 17% of the houses available to be delivered by self-builders, ‘putting power back into the hands of the people’, and ‘a green belt in the green belt’ – a continuous 9km long linear strip of green space at the centre of the site.
And finally, Maccreanor said his practice’s ‘liveable landscape’ ideas were about creating ‘a mixed use city within the city’, boosted by new rail infrastructure, including a new technology campus, civic centre and international conference centre, based on transforming what is an ‘ecologically inert landscape’ through bioremediation and forest planting. The Davies report on aviation is expected to make its recommendations in September.
A free exhibition of the proposals is on display at NLA until 9 August.
Visit www.heathrow-city.com for further detail on the proposals.
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly