The RIBA is lobbying the government to set up a body to champion urban design in the Olympic zone.
The institute wants to set up an Urban Space Commission in order to ensure good standards of Urban Design in the Lower Lea Valley and the surrounding Thames Gateway.
The commission would have the same arm’s length relationship with the Greater London Authority as the London Sustainable Development Commission and the London Housing Commission, and would act as a link between public and private sectors.
The idea of a commission was first floated in the RIBA’s Capital Spaces document published earlier this year in co-operation with CABE and English Heritage. However, London’s success in bidding for the Olympics has made it more of a priority.
Simon Foxell, RIBA’s outgoing London co-ordinator, said London’s success would act as a catalyst for many public space projects as well as the urban space commission idea.
The mayor’s “100 Public Spaces” programme, which includes schemes in Victoria Embankment, Sloane Square and Gilette Square in Dalston, east London, has struggled to get off the ground since it was launched five years ago.
I do hope there will be a role for the Architecture and Urbanism Unit
Foxell said: “A lot of these programmes have been on the slow burner, although nothing has been formally dropped. The Olympics will give an extra impetus to do stuff.”
The successful bid has also prompted speculation over how the designs that come forward in the Olympic zone will be vetted. Ricky Burdett, an architecture adviser to London mayor Ken Livingstone, said it was too early to say if the LDA’s design advisory panel, which includes Will Alsop and Lord Foster, would have a similar role at the Olympics.
He said: “I’ve no idea at the moment whether they’ll call on the committee. I do hope there will be some sort of role for the GLA’s Architecture and Urbanism Unit to consult on quality and design.”
The head of the unit, Richard Brown, has been seconded to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. He is understood to be working on Olympic design issues.