“The Future of Cities” Round Table

A truly engaging panel discussion organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the UK on the occasion of the inauguration of their renovated London offices.

By Daniel Gava,

Brand Strategy Advisor to the Architecture and Design Industry

and ICCIUK Benefactor Member

The topic was “The Future of Cities” and I had the pleasure of moderating the discussion between three leading experts of the urban planning, architecture and design sectors such as Lisa Fairmaner, Head of London Plan and Growth Strategies at the Greater London Authority, Vicky Richardson, Head of Architecture at the Royal Academy and Bruno Moser, Head of Urban Design at Foster and Partners.

In light of recent events that have reshaped many of the dynamics of our life, we have tried to understand what will happen in the city of the future when it comes to its propulsive energy, quality of life, urban design, cultural values.

The approach of the three speakers proved to be very proactive and optimistic regarding the future and everyone agreed that it is quite reassuring to think this is not unprecedented and that the city is resilient and oriented towards moving forward. In London, the sense of community and the energy of its people mean that if there is an opportunity, someone will come up with something.

Cities are places of opportunity on a professional, creative and romantic level. Cities can thrive if we create a high quality public environment: we need spaces to bring people together and celebrate the diversity that, for example, makes London so special. The transition of town centres from shopping areas into community hubs as places for intergenerational mixes and expression is one good example as well as connecting architecture with a sense of meaning in different areas of the city.

Great emphasis was placed on the need for more green infrastructures – from large interiors to large exteriors – and opportunities to rediscover and enhance the spaces close to where we live. Rethinking public spaces, making them inviting and accessible to all as well as the balance between old buildings and renovated ones in terms of sustainability and emissions is a great portion of the plans revisited due to the pandemic and also a response to other current issues such as mental health and climate change.

Some areas for improvement discussed during the talk and that the city could facilitate, were the need for more initiatives to reconnect younger and older generations, to make it more affordable for young people to live in the city of the future and to prompt public debate as it seems that we have lost that sense of public voice.

Public debate involving people is vital to improve the culture of the city, to foster new ideas and creative freedom combined with planning and regulation. There is a need for debate and leadership from communities to have a holistic view of our urban fabric.

The invitation to dialogue with the city is a great sign of openness to improvement but there can never be true progress in the city of the future without the active contribution and critical impulse of its citizens.

Meet the speakers:

Lisa Fairmaner, Head of London Plan and Growth Strategies at the Greater London Authority
Lisa Fairmaner is Head of the London Plan and Growth Strategies at the Greater London Authority. Her responsibilities include the Mayor’s London Plan, establishing the statutory planning framework for development; ensuring the 35 London borough’ planning authorities conform with the London Plan; and developing spatial strategies for London’s future evolution including key regeneration and Opportunity Areas. She has previously led planning teams in Central and suburban London, including responsibility for some of the city’s most iconic locations such as the West End and Houses of Parliament. She worked on local planning policies for Newham in the lead up to hosting the 2012 Olympics and has also been responsible for delivering major environmental projects and cycle infrastructure. She began her planning career in her native New Zealand.
Vicky Richardson, Head of Architecture at the Royal Academy of Arts
Vicky Richardson is a curator, writer and educator specialising in architecture and design. She recently joined the Royal Academy of Arts and her first exhibition “Light Lines: the Architectural Photographs of Hélène Binet” opens in October. Vicky has held a number of leading roles in design and architecture, as Associate Director of London School of Architecture and Director of Architecture, Design and Fashion at the British Council where she was Commissioner of the British Pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennale. She is an Honorary Fellow of the RIBA and has been named by Debretts as one of 20 most influential people in British architecture.
Bruno Moser, Head of Urban Design at Foster and Partners
Bruno trained as an architect in at ETH in Zürich, Switzerland and gained a Master’s degree in urban design from the London School of Economics. After completing his MSc he continued research at the LSE. Projects include the international conference series ‘Urban Age’ and ‘The Endless City’, research for the 10th Venice Architecture Biennale, ‘City and Society’ and the subsequent exhibition at the Tate Modern. He joined Foster + Partners in 2007 and heads the practice’s Urban Design Group, a multi-disciplinary team that covers all aspects from urban design and planning to landscape architecture, social anthropology and mobility. Working on Foster + Partner’s global portfolio of projects, he’s involved in projects across all scales, from the urban block to the regeneration of neighbourhoods and the design and planning of new quarters and cities.
Daniel Gava, Brand Strategy Advisor to the Architecture and Design Industry
Daniel Gava has more than twenty years of professional experience in the design industry and has been employed in primary positions within the departments of marketing, PR, sales and board of directors in well-known international high-end furniture manufacturers. He lived and worked in various countries including Italy, Spain, United States and since 2011 he is based in London where he currently works as an independent advisor assisting top companies and designers grow their brand and business. Trustee, Host, Speaker, and Content Creator, Daniel is Design Patron of the Design Museum, Affiliate Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and Ambassador of the London School of Architecture.