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RIBA pushes for 'bolder' London architecture

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Election candidates, planners, councillors and members of the Greater London Authority will this week receive copies of a RIBA document urging them to adopt 'better, bolder architecture and urban design' for the capital. The report contains a raft of ambitious proposals covering open spaces, civic buildings, transport and planning policy.

'Design for a Greater London', produced by the institute's London region and which includes a foreword by Lord Rogers, says all boroughs ought to identify one street every year for 'radical' improvement measures; that an international competition should be run to completely renew street furniture in the city; that competitions must be used when commissioning new public buildings; and that public debate on the subject should be encouraged, partly through the foundation of a London Architecture Centre.

It is also pressing for a quality kitemark to be awarded to boroughs which invest in design excellence and that all GLA members, councillors and planners be trained in the 'process and value' of good design. 'London needs to achieve higher standards of urban design, ' says the report.

'This document addresses the actual experience of living and working in London, ' said Simon Foxell, vice-chair of the RIBA London region.

The paper follows the launch of London's Spatial Development Strategy, mayor Ken Livingstone's vision for high-density building and integrated public transport in the capital. It can be downloaded from www. designforlondon. com Lord Rogers will choose five sites as regeneration models to kick off his Architecture and Urbanism Unit for London. The unit, part of the GLA, will choose the sites next month.

RIBA president-elect Paul Hyett gave a cautious welcome to the unit: 'You will be leading by design and councils may not have people with the right kind of attitude and training, ' he said.

Carl Powell, planning director at Westminster council, warned that design may be 'stampeded' with advisors from the GLA, CABE and others. 'If it's an arms-length, high-quality strategic body, that's good, but there's a risk it may become a jumped-up planning advisory service.'

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