Pop in to NLA on any given day and what might you see? A giant 12.5-meter interactive model of Central London, showing over 170,000 buildings laid out before you. But more interestingly, who might you see?
Over 10,000 people visit the NLA Galleries here at The Building Centre every month, to attend events, see the exhibitions, grab a coffee, and explore the ever changing New London Model.
In the morning, you might find a group of international urban planning students, kicking off their study trip to London with a visit to the model to better understand our complex planning systems. At lunch, the gallery fills with Londoners, local workers and excited tourists to attend one of our free lunchtime talks to get an overview of how London is changing. In the afternoon, a delegation of government officials from South Korea receive a formal welcome from NLA Chairman Peter Murray, with an overview of the city’s growth, plans for the future, and an insight into our intricate public/private partnerships helping to deliver more housing for Londoners.
At the centre of all this knowledge exchange sits the New London Model, built by Pipers Models. First revealed to the public in 2005, the model shows all existing buildings in London today, but also a huge selection of projects under construction or with planning permission and due for construction over the coming years.
The model has become the only place where Londoners and visitors can see, in physical 3D, what London will look like in the next 5-10 years.
The beauty of a city model is its ability to show individual projects in development and how they relate to each other. An understanding of distances between areas and heights of developments in relation to surrounding neighbourhoods can be almost impossible to portray accurately in print or online. As humans, even with endless advancements in technology, we still crave the option to see what the thing will look like, and inspect it in person from all angles, in our own time.
In London, one of the greatest topics of debate is the construction of more skyscrapers across the capital. As an independent forum, our mission in all debate is to gather and communicate the facts, and to help facilitate the discussion. For 5 years now, we have published an annual report on London’s Tall Buildings, mapping and investigating all projects over 20 storeys coming on stream across London – 510 tall buildings in the pipeline in 2018. Physical models play a huge role in helping the public, the built environment profession and the public sector to analyse, debate and critique new buildings and to ensure we are making good decisions about the future of our city.
And the future can be a very bright one, if we work hard now to ensure we are attracting a wide and diverse range of young people to consider careers in architecture and construction. Come visit NLA on any given day, and alongside the grown ups you’ll find a family from Waltham Forest taking part in one of our family architecture workshops; a grandmother from Camden with her granddaughter, heading off on a family walking tour of Bloomsbury; or a buzzing school group of year 10s huddled around the model learning about The London Plan and how decisions are made about the city.
To find out more about the network visit our project page.