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Urban Challenge

Starting in October 2020, our Urban Challenge aims to bring together ideas that learn from lockdown to help make places that better fulfil longer term goals around sustainability, 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.           

We've had fantastic sessions working in groups to test the challenges we've set, the changes we want to see and how robust the framework we're using to assess these are. 

Click here to see a short video of UDL director, Esther Kurland, talking through the Miro Board for the four ideas groups: Living Local, Connectivity, Buildings and City Structures, explaining how the participants worked through exercises to tease out their proposals. You can view the Miro Board here.

If you have an idea that aligns with the goals of our Urban Challenge, please feel free to get in touch to get involved and discuss further details. 

We want to take the Urban Challenge forward in two ways:

1. Test and develop the proposed urban policy that is emerging from our circle

2. Highlight individual ideas that promote change, explaining how these contribute to the emerging urban policy

If you have an idea that aligns with the goals of our Urban Challenge, please feel free to get in touch to get involved and discuss further details. 

Ideas will be presented to key policy makers at 'The Pitch' event on 19th January 2021 (see below). If you wish to attend, you can reserve your place here.

With your help, ingenuity and experience we hope to help built environment practice evolve post Covid-19.   

challenge circle                                                                                                                                                                         

Reserve your place here.


Part  1 - Our Urban Challenge Proposition

  • Explaining our Challenge 'Circle' 
  • Observations from Stress Testers & Chair
  • First observations from Challengers

Part 2 – Our Urban Challenge Ideas 

  • Cross cutting ideas 
  • Rethinking how buildings are used
  • A new role for the city centre 
  • Logistics hubs  
  • Enhancing the existing 
  • Ideas presentations 
  • Final observations from the Challengers

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.


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