London’s Housing Challenge

The second London 2062 event was last Wednesday, on the theme of housing. These seminars are a collaboration between Future of London and UCL, where we are bringing together our practitioner and academic networks to discuss how the work we do now and in the next few years can influence positively London’s longer-term future.

We had four speakers to kick-start the debate:

David Lunts began with a look back to 1962 to consider that some things have changed, while others remain constant. Political and social events have had huge effects on the house building landscape over the last fifty years, and will continue to do so. However, we can predict with a reasonable degree of certainty that London’s house prices will continue to rise, meaning that the challenge of providing affordable housing for a growing population is not going away.

Ben Campkin, architectural historian, used the case studies of the Aylesbury and Heygate Estates to highlight the complexity of housing regeneration projects. He agreed that there were huge challenges with such estates, and that many of these were due to political and economic decisions that were made when they were being designed and built, signifying the importance of learning from past mistakes.

Dave Baptiste, London Borough of Ealing, talked about the challenges of delivering housing on the ground, and his efforts to balance social, economic and environmental concerns in Ealing’s housing programme, at the same time as dealing with high levels of housing need. He shared a case study of Copley House, an Ealing estate where they are retaining and significantly refurbishing two thirds of the units.



Finally, Sofie Pelsmakers, architect and doctoral researcher, revealed her predictions for a dangerously hot London in 2062, and a five-point retrofit strategy for London’s buildings to mitigate against, and adapt to, the changing climate. This strategy involves employing techniques that are commonplace in similarly hot cities. She called for a shift in focus from unrealistic zero carbon targets to retrofit, and for London Boroughs to have the foresight to rise to this challenge.


There was a lively debate throughout, which will be captured in a briefing note to be published next week. In the meantime, photos from the day can be viewed below.