Hackers explore solutions to City’s population growth

The City London

Hacking is a hot topic at present, but a group of architects and urban designers have proved it doesn’t always have to lead to negative headlines.

Organised by the City Centre to help solve the Square Mile’s congestion problem, a recent ‘Hack the City Hackathon’ asked tech-savvy teams to come up with innovative solutions to improve the flow of people, goods and services in the Eastern Cluster to reduce the negative impact of population density.

Head of the pack after last weekend’s intense two-day challenge was a team representing Harry Dobbs Design (HDD), who proposed an in-depth strategy for how the public realm might be more efficiently shared by its users.

This was supported by a set of culturally engaged tactics for temporarily transforming road surfaces into memorable public spaces, enhancing the appeal of the City as a destination for cultural events during the weekend and holidays.

Director of the winning firm, Harry Dobbs, said he is now looking forward to seeing his proposals brought to life while working with the Corporation – a partner of the event alongside newmedia2.0.

“[We’re delighted to be] extending HDD’s ongoing involvement at the forefront of ideas on how ‘Smart Urban Design’ can improve the prime business and retail areas of the Square Mile,” he said.

But helping reduce the pressure on the Eastern Cluster’s roads and walkways will be no mean feat. Usage is predicted to intensify, based on projected growth in daytime population of 10% by 2025, which will have impacts on air quality, road safety and the wellbeing of the people who live and work in and visit the City.

The woman responsible for addressing that increase is confident the City is on to a winner with Harry Dobbs.

“The City expects an increase of up to 50,000 workers per day in the Square Mile in the next 30 years, and Harry Dobbs’ team presented an inspired vision of how we might be able to accommodate such growth,” said Carolyn Dwyer, director of the built environment at the Corporation.

“We would like to express our gratitude to all those who attended and contributed such high-quality work over the course of the weekend. We were particularly impressed with Harry’s presentation; their creative solution turns engineering into an art form.

“Importantly, it neatly reflects our ambition to grow the City as a cultural hub that reflects the inventive, inspirational people that make up the Square Mile. Harry Dobbs’ team captured that spirit brilliantly.

“We will be in discussion with the team to see how we might make use of the many ingenious proposals his team put forward.”

The runner-up design was produced by a team from Skidmore, Owings & Merril, and Klimaat with data analyst Can Khoo.

‘The Flow’ uses data to re-think the public realm of the Eastern Cluster, using computer modelling techniques to give the best space to people by emphasising pedestrian use.

Hack the City was held as part of A Smarter City, an exhibition and programme of events that will run for the rest of 2017 at the City Centre, 80 Basinghall Street EC2V 5AG