Architects showcase striking designs for Heathrow City

Posted: 16 July 2014 | Mayor of London’s press office | No comments yet

Three leading firms of architects have released designs for the redevelopment of Heathrow Airport into a new town that could potentially support 90,000 new jobs…

Boris Johnson

Three leading firms of architects have released designs for the redevelopment of Heathrow Airport into a new town that could potentially support 90,000 new jobs, provide homes for up to 190,000 people and add £7.5 billion to the UK economy. The designs released today (16 July) include proposals for new park land, scientific research centres and a factory for modular housing units to make it easier for people to build their own homes.

Transport for London commissioned the architects to provide designs that would cover several options for the redevelopment of Heathrow airport if a new hub airport to the east of London is agreed by the Government. London’s population is forecast to increase to 10 million people by 2030 and 11 million by 2050. The Mayor of London believes that major infrastructure decisions, such as airport expansion, must contribute towards a wider and longer term plan for London and the UK economy that takes into account the challenges posed by this astonishing growth.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The demand for new homes and jobs in the capital is such that we must be ready to start redeveloping Heathrow the moment it moves to its new site. And the sooner we start planning the better. We asked our architects to be as creative as possible and these designs illustrate strikingly different visions of a Heathrow of the future. However the key point is that all these scenarios would potentially create some of the many thousands of new jobs and homes this city will require given London is expected to increase in size by a fifth within the next 15 years. How we deal with that is something we need to be planning for and debating right now. Those discussions must not be delayed.”

All of the designs are going on public display at New London Architecture until 9 August and can also be found online at: The three firms have outlined proposals as follows:

Hawkins\Brown – One of the most successful and influential architectural practices in the UK. Their refurbishment of Park Hill was nominated for the Stirling Prize and they are currently designing major infrastructure projects for London through Crossrail and Transport for London. Their proposal for Heathrow City aspires to capture the imagination and provide a platform for innovation. Big ideas are proposed including a factory for homes and a ‘green belt in the green belt’. Their plan aims to increase the rate of new housing being built by creating a factory for building homes. Online customisation would allow Londoners to order homes to their own specifications as is common in a number of European countries, where ‘self-build’ is a popular way of creating new homes. Digital fabrication technology would make endless possible iterations no more expensive than standard products.

Darryl Chen, Partner at Hawkins\Brown, said: “A big site like Heathrow needs big ideas. Heathrow City should be a platform for innovation on a massive scale. We want to capture the same pioneering spirit and romance that characterised Heathrow’s first airborne adventures. We hope our vision inspires other new ideas about Heathrow’s and London’s future.”

Rick Mather Architects – A firm with a track record for innovation, high quality design and extensive experience of developing solutions for complex sites that require a pragmatic approach to delivery. They have worked on inner city regeneration projects across the capital and as master planner for the South Bank Centre. Their proposal would see the Heathrow site evolve to become a new hub city by working with the existing structure and using the terminals as generators to development. The former runways would define the structure of the city and connect ten distinct local centres, all of which would provide a cluster of retail, education and community uses. Those centres would be focused around the transport connections and airport buildings would be retained. Developers would look to create a research, technology and manufacturing hub that might specialise in housing production, hydroponics, anaerobic digestion and biofuels. A wide range of new housing types would also include 21st century reinterpretations of successful London models of individual houses, terraces, mansion blocks and communal squares.

Gavin Miller, partner at Rick Mather Architects, said: “Our proposal “The Transforming City” explores the natural emergence of a vibrant and integrated new hub city from the existing airport structure, embedded in its setting and wider landscape, singular and distinctive, at one with its immediate setting and locality, yet fully tuned for regional, national and international opportunity”

Maccreanor Lavington – The winners of several architectural competitions and awards for major projects all over the UK including the RIBA Stirling Prize. Their experience covers urban design, residential, education, commercial, retail and leisure sectors with clients including the London Legacy Development Corporation, University of Cambridge and Argent. Their vision for Heathrow City aims to develop a fully functioning city within the metropolis, characterised by a rich mix of ecology, culture, employment and liveability. Existing buildings are used to establish fresh development and new forestation is laid down. A technology campus to satisfy London’s global status for scientific research and development would be built to the east of the current site with good links to the Thames Hub and to existing technology industries on the M4 corridor. New housing would be influenced by emerging trends that might include self build, community-led development, temporary housing, a development corporation and developer-led housing delivery. The former terminal 2 building would be renovated to become a civic centre and retail hub that would form the heart of the new community at Heathrow City.

Gerrard Maccreanor, Director of Maccreanor Lavington, said: “Heathrow has outgrown its location. It is not only a nuisance for many of the residential neighbourhoods in West London but it is also a hindrance for growth. If London is to maximise its influence from coast to coast then the airport should move and this site should be the future catalyst.”

As well as hosting an exhibition of the proposals, New London Architecture are also supporting the delivery of a programme of events to explore the viability of ‘Heathrow City’, alongside the requirement to consider how best to face the challenges posed by the unparalleled increase in population taking place in London over the first half of this century. A series of roundtable discussions are being held to address some of the key issues, including to ensure the best quality of development on the Heathrow site, how to fund development there and the wider economic impacts on London.

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