The Developing City

The world looks to London this summer as Britain's capital plays host to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Olympic Games and an extravaganza of arts and music. Promising all the pomp and pageantry of summer stalwarts Wimbledon and Royal Ascot, this year’s special events are certain to celebrate the city’s storied past.

By contrast, local architects and property professionals are focused on London's future. Alongside the seasonal contests and celebrations, designers and developers are forecasting how the City of London might look in 2050. Gensler is one firm setting out a vision for the summer-long public exhibition, "The Developing City", which considers how architecture will contribute to the Square Mile's enduring success as a global trading center.

Image: Aldgate Quarter reinvented for 2050

London in 2050: Gensler's re-Imagined Thames Quarter transforms the river's North Bank experience

A Vision for the City of London

A Gensler team of planners, architects and designers has outlined a bold vision for London's adaptations to changes in governance, infrastructure, climate and the nature of work. In this provocative view, the future City benefits from growing international trade, world-class transport enhancements, pioneering infrastructure developments and the introduction of public parks to offset a deficit of urban open space. Predicting that London will be the capital of an international free-trade zone, Gensler sees the City reviving its historic commercial diversity to become "the first genuinely global city."

"Our dynamic vision highlights how the City continues to redefine and reinvent itself," says Gensler Managing Director Ian Mulcahey.

"The City Halo," a ring of five connected districts, gives London new urban dimension in 2050
Smithfield Quarter in 2050, the "Innovation Capital of the City," hosts a biotech information exchange.

Commercial Diversity

For centuries, a broad mix of trade and business helped London thrive. The CT2050 plan's "City Halo" concept gives London a visible identity that has been lacking since the City Wall's destruction in the 19th century. Establishing a "ring of opportunity," the future City is home not only to bankers and lawyers, but creatives in technology, fashion, music, art, and increasingly health and wellness. Media companies have returned to Fleet Street, and software developers now concentrate in the urban core.

The London Life Sciences Exchange sensitively refurbishes Smithfield Market, converting the former meat market into a "Meet Market" in convenient proximity to the City's historic stock exchange and trading floors.

Gensler's 2050 Shoreditch Quarter is the "Creative Capital of the City" and home to thriving nightlife.

Technology, Media and the Arts

The City will rely on several anchors for economic diversification in 2050. While Smithfield welcomes the life sciences industry, Aldgate Quarter creates an eastern mixed-use, high-rise cluster for further intensification of financial and professional services.

Greater diversification of business is evident as the City engages its fringes at Old Street, Spitalfields and Shoreditch, where art galleries, boutiques and museums mis with a burgeoning tech media sector. Broadgate and Bishopsgate Goods Yard have merged at the heart with the London Tech Media Exchange; the Exchange providing an essential locus for interaction between finance, legal, creative media and technology communities.

London 2050 is replete with transit connections between river, parks, offices, retail and urban farms.

Transport and Open Space

The scale of London's transportation network is one of the great legacieis ofOne of the legacies of Victorian and Edwardian investment. Extending across the City, it bequests a foundation for CT2050's SuperStations. These transit hubs link major rail stations via a transport loop that circumnavigates the City's old boundaries, providing high-speed rail connections to terminals within the halo and to new runways in the Thames Estuary. Travel from office to airport takes less than 10 minutes.

Private car transportation is replaced by underground road and rail to create public open space above ground. The tight network of streets gives way to new parklands, cycling routes and vibrant pedestrian zones that are the envy of competing cities.

Barbican Quarter in 2050, the "Cultural Heart of the City," introduces London Wall Park.

Culture and Parks

In living memory London's most popular cultural institutions have drawn visitors beyond the City confines. Culture, though, is critical to a robust urban center, so CT2050 leverages the Barbican's intrinsic worth as a performing arts center to form the nucleus of a world-class cultural cluster.

Meanwhile, Gensler research into the value of urban open space reveals these open, public spaces to be both increasingly rare and invaluable to the quality of city life.  London of 2050 will profit from the restoration of the River Fleet as a park running from the Thames to Hampstead, as well as the introduction of a continuous walkable park ring that connects all five regenerated districts in Gensler's plan.

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Anna Robinson (Gensler London)
Ian Mulcahey (Gensler London)

Gensler London CT2050 Team

Further Reading "London 2050: The First Genuinely Global City" by Ian Mulcahey

About the Exhibition
The Developing City is on view at the Walbrook Building, London EC4, from June 21-September 9.

A major exhibition on the past, present and future of the City of London as a center for international trade, and part of the overall London Festival of Architecture, the Developing City Exhibition will look at how the physical environment of the City -- its buildings, public spaces and culture have helped it to thrive as a major business center.

A series of seminars, talks and walks about development in the City will accompany the exhibition. Please find more information on