Public London

Ten years of transforming spaces


Since the turn of the century, attitudes to the public realm in the capital have been transformed as we have come to understand that the spaces between London’s buildings – its streets, squares, green spaces, rivers and parks – are as important as the surrounding buildings in creating a more human city.

A host of projects to revitalise London’s public spaces have been implemented across the capital in recent years: the pedestrianisation of Trafalgar Square, the transformation of the South Bank, the creation of the Olympic Park, together with smaller-scale initiatives to improve London’s high streets, rivers and parks, all of which have led London’s evolution into a more civilised and people-friendly metropolis.

Public London is a continuation of NLA's first ever exhibition 'Public City' which was on display  10 years ago. The exhibition studied projects proposed under Mayor Ken Livingstone’s hundred Public Spaces programme. Public London will look back over the decade, celebrating the best projects and initiatives and looking at the drivers behind our changing attitudes, including the standards set by the Great Estates, the expanding role of Business Improvement Districts over the last ten years, the impact of major infrastructure projects, cycling initiatives, government-led investments and regeneration programmes, temporary spaces and community-led initiatives.

It also looks forward to the next ten years, how projects like Crossrail’s public realm programme, the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling, and TfL’s classification of the ‘family of streets' will transform the capital, and how public realm delivery must evolve to meet the challenges of a growing city.