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Inspiring London part I: Zaha Hadid Architects - Let’s get pedestrian!

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

By Justin Hyatt & Mansi Jasuja, IHS Alumni International Board


Zaha Hadid Architects. Author: Denys Nevozhai

This blog is part 1 of a peek into inspiring work being done in the UK capital, as witnessed by IHS Alumni International (IHS AI).


Zaha Hadid is an internationally acclaimed architectural bureau, located in London and based on the work of the Iraqi born star architect, Zaha Hadid (1950 - 2016). The buildings of Zaha Hadid are known for their unconventional style, with expressive and fluid forms, oftentimes soaring structures.


Although many people are mainly familiar with the architectural work of the company, in fact what caught our attention is the fact that this globally renowned firm has also put forward its own plan and concept for a pedestrian-oriented London.


Earlier in 2018, the company presented "Walkable London", a proposal that was also exhibited at New London Architecture in London’s Building Centre. The proposal got heads turning - as it laid out an approach to converting a number of downtown London streets to pedestrian streets, with a whole network of linked pedestrian streets emerging, and this way creating a more livable, breathable London. This creates fun places to roam while laughing off congestion as the dumb business of the past.


The backbone of their approach, and even that of the mayor Sadiq Khan, is to start with Oxford Street. Even though this particular proposal still has an uncertain future, as initially, Westminster Council rejected the proposal, citing insufficient local support, it has ignited some great conversations between various stakeholders. Transition often begins with dreams and dialogue!


While the firm is not foremost a mobility-oriented one, it has taken up the pedestrian topic as an important one for sustainable and equitable cities and stands alert to provide its vision, backed up by design, data analytics and research capacities, when like-minded partners appear or an auspicious moment for action bursts onto the scene. Meanwhile, Members of Zaha Hadid’s project team are working towards related goals, such as the London Car Free Day 2019. They hope to showcase the world-famous architecture, art and design that radiates from London’s core, yet in a way that displays a model for sustainability in urban growth, transport and public health.


In particular, they are focusing on a number of pillars, notably London greenways, which directly relate to their pedestrian vision, linking up numerous parks, to create both cycle-friendly and pedestrian avenues and opportunities for green spaces and recreation. Further pillars include activating 200 play streets as well as 100 school streets, both oriented to safe zones for children and their families. Another pillar is ciclovía, the famous Sunday car-free streets experience hailing from Bogotá. Hopes are for London to adopt ciclovía on a regular basis throughout the summer period.


As Zaha Hadid firm continues their work on pedestrian-oriented development, they welcome cooperation with other like-minded individuals and organizations. IHS AI looks forward to future collaborations and also to receive them at upcoming IHS events.


This blog is part 1 of a peek into inspiring work being done in the UK capital, as witnessed by IHS Alumni International (IHS AI).


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