Conference: Surface Tension

Designed partly to supplement the Mayor’s draft Infrastructure Investment Plan, Future of London’s multi-part London 2050 programme looks at the spatial and practical aspects of accommodating growth. It started with an internal FoL Steering Group presentation, and expanded to a June 2014 session at City Hall: London 2050 – Grow up or grow out?.

As London’s population continues to expand, so does the subsurface infrastructure required to support living and working in the city. This includes everything from water, gas and electricity to transport links, fibre-optic communications and district heating, each under the jurisdiction of a different agency.

With some 150 years of underground construction reaching depths of up to 70 metres, this vast underground network of tunnels and pipes presents a formidable challenge when developing new sites and repairing aging infrastructure. The challenge is not confined below the streets – all underground infrastructure must come to the surface somewhere, and where it does so, it must deal sensitively and sustainably with the existing urban realm.

This half-day conference looked at how a wide range of underground infrastructure projects interact with the urban realm above; at the physical and legal constraints posed by aboveground projects on those underground, and vice-versa; at how local authorities, infrastructure providers, and developers can work effectively together to reduce delays and minimise costly disruption.

Participants from a cross-section of urban disciplines shared effective approaches to joint working, integrating above- and below-ground projects, and managing risk along the continuum from valuation to management and repairs.


Surface Tension: Underground London’s impact on the world above
: Wednesday, 26th November 2014
Venue: The Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate, London EC2M 4QH

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Networking drinks from 17.30.
Close at 18.30.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Eleanor Kelly, Chief Executive, London Borough of Southwark
  • Tim Chapman, Director, Infrastructure Design Group, Arup
  • Richard De Cani, Director, Strategy & Policy, Transport for London
  • Joanna Rowelle, Associate Director, Planning, Policy & Economics, Arup
  • Bob Bennett, Crossrail Project Director for London Borough of Tower Hamlets
  • Duncan Brown, Strategic Project Manager, Whitechapel Vision Delivery Team, London Borough of Tower Hamlets
  • Mel Gardner, Technical Director, Rails & Tunnels Ltd
  • Helen Fisher, Nine Elms Programme Director, Nine Elms on the South Bank

Further details are forthcoming.


Thanks to support from event sponsor Arup, this conference is free to attend, but registration is required and space is limited. Future of London’s members and partners will receive priority places, so please register your interest soon.

The core audience is public and private-sector practitioners delivering infrastructure projects in London, from strategic planners to project managers. Representatives from community organisations, central government and the formal third sector may also receive spaces.

If you would like to attend, please express your interest to, indicating your role and organisation. We will confirm if you have secured a spot.

Event flyer

Surface Tension postcard

Other events in the London 2050 programme include: