Faced with the prospect that we live in an increasingly urbanised world, and that 68% of the work population will live in urban areas (UN 2018), it is time we seriously rethink what is a city and how they operate.
One such ‘rethink’ is to imagine cities as parks.
A growing international movement exists to form a Universal Charter of National Park Cities. This movement is real and has met on several occasions. Although different cities are signed up to the Universal Charter, few have committed their city as a pilot study for the idea. The major city committed and acting as a testbed for the idea is London.
London Park City began as an idea impulsed by Dan Raven. He has harnessed support from policy-makers, academics, local authorities and would-be critics to promote and push London into unexplored territory of making it the world’s first National Park City. The official launch for London Park City took place in May 2019.
Problematically (or conveniently?), The NPC did not have any formal planning. So, the traditional powers by which the city controls land development and management are not necessarily at the disposal of NPC.
However, in 2050, with 68% of the work population living in urban areas, formal and top-down powers of city-building may have become irrelevant and eroded. There are other ways in which citizens, collectives, communities and local authorities can create agencies of soft-power to shape the city-park they desire.
This year, we explored -through critique and prose- what these soft powers could be. We looked towards London in 2050 and imagined a National Park City that has a Charter, a Partnership Structure, a set of Design Codes, and a guide for the soft powers of Planning & Development.
Our studio designed future landscape and urban design projects set in 2050 that were accompanied by a written manifesto. This manifesto was our contribution to the NPC. In other words, this design studio was (re)imaginingLondon 2050.