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Urban Challenge

The first event in this 4-part initiative starts Monday 12th October. If you would like to observe this event please follow the link to book your place. 

Ahead of the event you can watch interviews we conducted during lock down about the potential impact of Covid-19 on urban life and place making. 

Our Urban Challenge aims to bring together ideas that learn from lockdown to help make places that better fulfil long term objectives around climate protection, resource efficiency, health and equality.

We hope to highlight good ideas and look at how these could fit together to create refreshed planning, transport and placemaking strategies. With your help, ingenuity and experience we hope to help built environment practice evolve post Covid-19.

                                             urban challenge

Our Challengers:                                                          

Philip Graham (GLA)                           

Alex Williams (TfL)                                                    

Joanna Averley (MHCLG)                                        


Our Scene Setters:

Prof. Matthew Carmona, UCL

Sadie Morgan, dRMM Architects

Ben Page, Ipsos MORI

David Christie, TfL

Fanny Blanc, LSE

Frances Holliss, London Metropolitan University

Prof. Ken Gibb, UK Collaborative Centre for Housing

Max Farrell, LDN Collective


Our Stress Testers:

Selina Mason (Lendlease)

Finn Williams (Public Practice)

Matthew Yates (TfL)

Elanor Warwick (Clarion Housing Group)

Ellie Howard (GLA)

Justin Kliger, Connected Places Catapult


Group Chairs:


Dinah Bornat (ZCD Architects)


Samer Bagaeen (Brighton & Hove CC)


Patricia Brown (Central)


Yolande Barnes (UCL)

The challenge would run over 4 events:

1. Setting the Challenge

12th October 2020

An event where key-note speakers set out the main urban challenges facing us as we emerge from the Covid era.

We will also hear about new research and evidence explaining how we used urban areas during lockdown and our attitudes to the buildings and places around us. Lastly, we will introduce our challenge groups – which will develop and test ideas over the course of this initiative.  

2. Ideas Group Meetings

9th & 10th November + 7th & 8th December 2020

Groups will meet on these dates to share the ideas they have been developing. An informal panel of Stress Testers will provide feedback as ideas develop.

3. The Pitch

19th January 2021

Challenge groups will be able to present their ideas to the Challengers, Stress Testers and  other ‘dragons den’ type individuals we identify. Challenge Group leaders will also be able to suggest how ideas could fit together. Constructive feedback on ideas presented will be collected. There will also be time for discussion on how ideas with the most support could be taken forward.

4. Write up

February 2021

UDL will publish a summary of ideas, feedback and suggestions for implementation.

 The challenge will start this autumn and involve:

1. Challengers– explaining the objectives ideas for change should aim to achieve

2. Scene Setters – covering research, polls or other evidence of changing behaviours and conditions before, during and since lockdown

3. Ideas Groups – to discuss and work up ideas for change. We have four ideas groups focusing on Living Local, Town Centres, Buildings and City Structures.

4. Stress Testers -  community members, practitioners and business people who would implement ideas in the real world

If you would like to participate in an ideas group, please do get in touch.  

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