London is changing rapidly. New planning policies encourage iconic skyscrapers, tens of thousands of new homes and increased density. The current level of change and hysteria around London will be the focus of history books in years to come. Being in London at such a turning point raises a number of questions: Who is truly benefiting from the growth of London? What kind of buildings and public spaces do Londoners really want? Can a big and booming city like London still be green? Is there a point at which growth can lead only to congestion and damage?
These issues and more will be deliberated at DEBATE LONDON, a long weekend of highly topical public debates in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern led by architectural think tank, The Architecture Foundation. The debates will raise issues about the future of London’s physical and social environment at a time of rapid and dramatic change and consider what life will be like for Londoners in the years leading up to and beyond 2012. It will involve leading figures from the worlds of architecture and design, business, culture, media and politics as well as the general public. This is an opportunity for all Londoners to debate what kind of city they want to live in.
Speakers and chairs include: Zaha Hadid, Nigel Coates, Janet Street-Porter, Rem Koolhaas, Richard Rogers, Shaun Bailey, Alex James, David Lammy, Fritz Haeg and Ken Livingstone, with further names still being confirmed.
Four evening debates will be held in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall:
Is London a United City
Friday 22 June
London is booming. It is growing in population and wealth. Property prices are vertiginous. The results can be seen in shining new developments and towers, and a skyline full of cranes. But who gains the most? Are we creating a city of haves and have-nots; affluence and deprivation; of prosperous home-owners and eternal renters? How can regeneration - in the Olympic area, the Thames Gateway and all over London - truly benefit communities of all backgrounds and incomes?
The 2012 Wish List: What Do You Want for London?
Saturday 23 June
While the 2012 Olympics will hold the whole city up to world scrutiny it also presents an opportunity to raise aspirations for the capital. Now is the time to find out what sort of London Londoners really want. What changes would they most like to see - whether completed or in the pipeline - by 2012? A panel of architects, artists, writers and thinkers, will each offer up what one thing they would do to make London better and more beautiful.
How Can a Boomtown be Green?
Sunday 24 June
Thanks to their high level of public transport, Londoners create fewest emissions and are the greenest people in Britain. But like any big city, London eats up energy and pumps out pollution. ‘How can a boomtown be green?’ asks how we can reduce rather than increase environmental damage. Could London be a model for sustainable big cities around the world? Or will attempts to make it more sustainable stifle its growth and force people out?
Can London be Both Big and Beautiful?
Monday 25 June
London is becoming more dynamic, more frenetic and more dramatic. But does this activity and wealth up the quality of life for Londoners? Will it create better transport, more beautiful squares and parks, streets and buildings? Can London's boom be made to create a more pleasurable city to inhabit? Or should we just revel in its chaos? ‘Can London be both big and beautiful?’ explores the merits and flaws of a rapidly growing city.
The fifth debate - Generation London – is a youth debate to be presented on Monday 25 June where young people from London’s schools will debate their own feelings on the changes to London with key decision makers. Today’s teenagers will ultimately benefit or lose out to the decisions made now about London’s future. So what do they want from their city? Is the fabric of London currently designed for their needs? How do they see the issues discussed in the four big debates?
The heart of Generation London is The Billboard Lab - a customised shipping container that contains a fully equipped film studio where young people will develop their creative skills, explore regeneration issues and engage with local communities. The Lab will ‘land’ at Tate Modern on the very first day of Debate London, complete with a top-notch student media team who will chronicle both the Debate London and Generation London action producing running footage and ultimately a documentary.
To broaden the debates to a wider audience a dedicated website - www.debatelondon.com - will provide the perfect platform for those wanting to discuss the issues who cannot attend, but want their voices heard. Here people can vote simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on big London issues or leave more detailed comments on discussion boards.
DEBATE LONDON coincides with Global Cities, a Tate Modern exhibition about the current state of big cities around the world. It runs from 19 June to 27 August in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.
Tickets are £8 (£5 conc) and can be booked at Tate Tickets: 020 7887 8888. Further information on tickets and the debates can be found at www.debatelondon.com. The evening debates start at 7.30pm and run until 9.30pm.