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Old September 18th, 2012, 10:15 PM   #1
Bowater
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Low Density Errors, is There an Answer?

Quite often in London one will encounter a high density development close to a low rise development from the 80's or 90's or perhaps even the 00's, i.e. all along the Thames! It makes no send to anyone to have say housing estates on the Isle of Dogs where similar sites that were developed later now boast hundreds of flats.

Does anyone foresee these developments being bought out to be redeveloped efficiently?

I see this an obstruction to London's development to have prime real estate locked up by unimaginative low rise development, built when demand for housing was far lower!

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Old September 18th, 2012, 10:22 PM   #2
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It will take a while, if it happened at all.

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Old September 18th, 2012, 11:23 PM   #3
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London is a (largely) naturally developed city and it's only natural you see contrasting levels of density juxtoposed against each other. Isle of Dogs isn't exactly low density either - most of the residential buildings are mid-rise flats. A mixture of townhouses and mid-rise flats actually provide for a very effective urban density. There's no need to turn London into an Asian city on steroids.
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Old September 19th, 2012, 11:32 AM   #4
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Isle of Dogs would also have transport problems with just the DLR.

I think London is already addressing "Low Density Errors" with much higher density popping up around transport links. Such as Lewisham and Bow for two examples.
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Old September 19th, 2012, 12:18 PM   #5
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Anyone know how this development came about?

maiden lane southwark
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Old September 20th, 2012, 01:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob View Post
Anyone know how this development came about?

maiden lane southwark
I think Owen Hatherley mentions it in New Ruins of Modern Britain as something from the later GLC years (doesn't mention street names but talks about being in Southwark)

Of course by the 80s London had seen massive depopulation and high rise living was seen rather negatively, mostly because of how badly managed council high rises were. By then also the government subsidy for council flats based on how far from the ground they were had gone so in terms of build cost these were much cheaper. In that context these make more sense, even if they seem like madness to any urbanist. It's a shame that there isn't easier compulsory purchase to build high rise here, could probably easily quadruple the number of dwellings without even getting that high.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 02:02 AM   #7
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See also Coin Street development. Simple case is, people want low rise housing with gardens in city centre locations. Or at least periphery central as Southwark was back in the days when they were built.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 08:26 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NCT View Post
London is a (largely) naturally developed city and it's only natural you see contrasting levels of density juxtoposed against each other. Isle of Dogs isn't exactly low density either - most of the residential buildings are mid-rise flats. A mixture of townhouses and mid-rise flats actually provide for a very effective urban density. There's no need to turn London into an Asian city on steroids.
exactly. people confuse height with density. tall buildings aren't so dense when you look at the space that has to sit between them too to provide the necessary daylight... in the UK the mansion block offers the greatest level of density as a result of this as a rule. of course if you throw right to light legislation out, stop caring about wind problems at street level etc then you can fit in as many towers as hong kong, but who would want to live there?
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Old September 20th, 2012, 08:44 AM   #9
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Exactly. El Greco and co who want to turn London into Barcelona forget that London has pathetic mean sunlight hours, a damp relatively cold climate and mild summers.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 10:33 AM   #10
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Eh? What about cities in Germany, The Netherlands, the Nordic countries etc. They are more densely built than UK cities, and the climate is no better.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 10:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bricks
Eh? What about cities in Germany, The Netherlands, the Nordic countries etc. They are more densely built than UK cities, and the climate is no better.
Not really they aren't. Nordic cities are extremely low density. Netherlands and Belgium are dense overall but highly suburbanised and bear absolutely no resemblance to Barcelona. The German climate is not similar to London.

Let's get a few things straight..
density:

Amsterdam: 3506 (1682 mean sunlight hours)
Stockholm 3597 (2021 mean sunlight hours)
Helsinki 1388 (1858 mean sunlight hours)
Oslo 912 (1650 mean sunlight hours)
Berlin 3942 (1625 mean sunlight hours)
Munich 4440 (1708 mean sunlight hours
London 5206 (1480 mean sunlight hours)
Barcelona 15991 (2524 mean sunlight hours)

Last edited by PadArch; September 20th, 2012 at 10:58 AM.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 11:13 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bricks View Post
Eh? What about cities in Germany, The Netherlands, the Nordic countries etc. They are more densely built than UK cities, and the climate is no better.
not true

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The term population density is a measure of how many people live in a given area. Population density as used here is the number of inhabitants per hectare (1 hectare is an area about 86 yards on a side. 1 hectare = 2.47 acres, or 1 acre = 0.4047 hectare. 640 acres = 1 sq. mile). The population density of Berlin's entire urban area is 37 people/hectare (p/ha). This figure is in the middle range for German and European cities. Hamburg has an average of 38 % fewer people per hectare. Paris has a population density almost six times greater (cf. Fig. 1).
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Old September 20th, 2012, 11:59 AM   #13
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Don't get me wrong, london's density can increase (let's say 7-8k top), but only in derelict areas and in line with transport provision and existing density patterns. There are plenty of unused gaps to be filled up in other words but in no way should we be looking at high density mediterranean cities like Barcelona as a model for London, density wise.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 02:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PadArch View Post
Exactly. El Greco and co who want to turn London into Barcelona forget that London has pathetic mean sunlight hours, a damp relatively cold climate and mild summers.
Yeah better to waste land on suburban housing thus increasing sprawl and property prices even further. Good plan.



What sunshine hours got to do with anything, btw?

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Originally Posted by DarJoLe View Post
The whole place is covered in suburban housing. Just think how many people you could fit in there if you redeveloped the area with tall (8-10 storeys) and dense housing. In other words think modern take on Victorian mansion blocks.
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Last edited by El_Greco; September 20th, 2012 at 03:14 PM.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 03:37 PM   #15
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It's covered in suburban housing because it used to be a suburb. It had too little transport to support greater densities.

And then there's the assumption that greater density = a better urban environment. That's a flawed assumption imo. There are tons of hideous examples of urban density around the world, and it doesn't improve your arguments when you hold up examples like Athens, which is really ugly, concrete, and virtually treeless. I'd far rather live in a leafy London suburb than a concrete Athens apartment building looming over a dank lightless street. The Eixample is much nicer than Athens, but it's rather repetitive and monotonous, and almost totally lacking in green spaces (as is Barcelona generally).

Central London is large and dense already. Barcelona's Eixample, for comparison, is just 7.48 km2. London's zone 1 is 9.7 km across, and 6.4 km from north to south. If that was a rectangle, it would have an area of 62 km2 (ie 8.3x Eixamples). Given that it's oval shaped, zone 1's actual area will be somewhat less, maybe 6x Eixamples. I dare say London's City and West End contain more building floor space per km2 than the Eixample, and sustain that density over a larger area.

Of course Barcelona is more than just the Eixample, but I'm not convinced it represents a preferable pattern of density to London. In particular it lacks in green space in the central areas. I like variety in a cityscape: varied density; varied building heights; and varied street patterns. I see no virtue in endless repetition or monotony.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 03:37 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El_Greco View Post
What sunshine hours got to do with anything, btw?
Nothing of course.

And I was talking about building density and urbanity. Cities here in the Nordic region are generally denser, taller and more urban. Our inner cities consist of 5-8 storey apartment buildings. You have to travel to the suburbs to see bungalows or tower blocks.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 03:39 PM   #17
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Quote:
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What sunshine hours got to do with anything, btw?
Density = shade.
Shade = good in sunny countries.
Shade = bad in England.

So I believe he has deduced that: Density = bad in England.
That's not to say I necessarily agree, but his argument is pretty clear.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 03:57 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bricks View Post
Nothing of course.

And I was talking about building density and urbanity. Cities here in the Nordic region are generally denser, taller and more urban. Our inner cities consist of 5-8 storey apartment buildings. You have to travel to the suburbs to see bungalows or tower blocks.
Nordic cities aren't tall or dense. I know because I've visited them, but anyone can see for themselves on Bing maps bird's eye view. Building density and floor space per km 2 is very low compared to London.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 04:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob View Post
Anyone know how this development came about?

maiden lane southwark
When these were built there would have been no thought to increase density. This area was a bit of a backwater and which a fair few council estates, a closed down power station, industrial units and back offices, amongst the largely neglected older buildings. There was thousands of acres of derelict and unused space in Inner London, the population was a lot lower than it was today and all the things people advocating higher density here didn’t really exist then.

The boom and trend in inner city living has only been with us for 15-20 years, not just in London, but other Cities in the UK and other parts of run down inner cities abroad. Why build a block of flats here for example when most didn’t want to live around here and the people that did wanted a small family home. The area only really took off with the redevelopment of Bankside into the Tate Modern, coupled with a new found love for inner city living and a massive increase in the population and the area has never looked back.

Of course looking at it in today’s terms it’s a strange anomaly and given the chance developers would be queuing up to redevelop the site to a much higher density and people would be queuing up to live here. Just look at the site of NEO-Bankside, when the industrial units were built you wouldn’t have been taken seriously if you suggested the site in 20years time would be worth a fortune and would have 20 floor towers with flats worth upwards of Ł2m quid.
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Old September 20th, 2012, 05:00 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Langur View Post
It's covered in suburban housing because it used to be a suburb.
Its obviously inner city.

Quote:
And then there's the assumption that greater density = a better urban environment.
Of course, everythings more efficient for one. Your examples of Athens prove nothing. If you dont like concrete we can build glass or stone or even timber structures, put your head into it and the possibilities are endless. Besides Attica was never known for its trees; when ancient Athenians wanted to build their fleets they had to bring their timber from elsewhere (Macedonia etc), hence why Athens streets are not lined with trees. The same largely applies to Barcelona. Although both of them have large parks. And unattractive is the last thing these cities are. I love the fuctional feel of Athens and the rigid but airy Barcelona with its big old and new (theres a huge mix of styles) mansion blocks.

Obviously theres little than can be done about narrow (as you guys like to insist) central London streets but when it comes to inner city or brownfield sites theres no reason why these cant be made attractive - with dense elegant housing and wide tree lined streets. Suburban housing is just not very good use of land which is a finite resource after all.

Im not proposing to flatten London and go all Haussmann, what I am saying is that dense and densification are nothing to be afraid of.
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Last edited by El_Greco; September 20th, 2012 at 05:41 PM.
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