World-class architecture: London is at the forefront of housing design

​London is leading the way in designing the houses of the future.

The World Achitecture Festival Awards shortlist has been announced, and four London developments are among the final 14 in the Future Projects: Residential category.

The capital is by far the best-represented city in this category at the world's largest international architectural event, with twice as many shortlisted entries as its closest competitors, Vancouver and Dubai. All the other rivals, including Sydney and New York, have only one shortlisted project each.

The London designs in line for the top prize are:
•    190 Strand - by GRID architects
•    Battersea Power Station Residential Homes
     – by Michaelis Boyd Associates
•    One Blackfriars – SimpsonHaugh and Partners
•    Quadrant 4 (off Piccadilly Circus)
     – by Allford Hall Monaghan Morris

Take a tour of the shortlisted London designs...



The capital's finalists all agree that the biggest challenge is providing homes to meet the needs of a diverse population - with the young and lower-paid workers being of particular concern in a city where renting looks set to be the future for the majority. 

"It's vital that new residential developments create a sense of community and do not become insular and disconnected," says Tim Boyd, founding partner of Michaelis Boyd. "The success of a residential development is as dependent on the occupants as the architecture... providing housing for all income bands is also important for the future of London. It must retain its inhabitants as well as welcoming new settlers."

Fortunately, London conditions are ripe for innovative architecture. "The combination of an economically attractive world capital, an internationally orientated design community and a focused local government policy, together with a competitive marketplace, have led to London's contemporary architecture being at the forefront of housing design," says Christian Male, a partner from SimpsonHaugh, designers of One Blackfriars.

Craig Casci from GRID architects believes the future of London housing is flexible designs that accommodate lifetime changes and better space standards.  He says: "Amenity spaces have become the new gardens and these are supported by high-density development - roof gardens, shared entertainments rooms, music rooms and gyms make the loss of house accommodation and gardens more acceptable and more affordable."

The future of London housing is also in technology, according to Paul Finch, the festival's London programme director and editorial director of The Architects’ Journal. "The future is more remote controls... Digital technology will allow home management from near and far, and smart materials will help produce intuitive internal environments," he says.

Londoners got the first glimpse of the full shortlist and attended talks at the festival's free London exhibition, at the University of Westminster, as part of the London Festival of Architecture. 

A total of 338 projects are shortlisted from 46 countries across 31 categories in the World Architecture Festival awards, ranging from small family homes to large commercial developments and landscape schemes.

The UK has the second-highest number of shortlisted projects, behind Australia. The winners will be chosen by six distinguished jurors from across the globe, including Sir Peter Cook from the UK, and announced in Singapore in November.

World Architecture Festival


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