Can tall buildings contribute to creating liveable places?

On 23 September the Young Urbanists hosted a well-timed debate on a subject of great importance not only to London, but to cities all over the world: tall buildings, hosted at Grosvenor’s Mayfair offices.

The debate looked to respond to the recent public and professional debate on London’s changing skyline, as  highlighted by the NLA’s excellent research.

The event was chaired by Francesca Perry, Guardian Cities and saw an Academician and a Young Urbanist on each side of the argument, examining the challenges and opportunities that tall buildings bring to the skyline and life at street level.

Steven Bee AoU, The Academy of Urbanism and Laura Mazzeo, MUDstudios, arguing against tall buildings, critiqued them as exclusive, isolating, inhuman in scale and environmentally obtuse. Arguing that their unwarranted growth could see the London skyline morph into something resembling Shanghai’s — saturated with novelty architecture.

Michael Short AoU, University of the West of England and Ed Green, Grosvenor, arguing for tall buildings, cited examples including Chicago and San Francisco as cities that demonstrate tall buildings can contribute positively to a city. They put forward the key argument that tall buildings, when regulated within a tight planning framework and positioned sensitively within an area, can be highly beneficial.