London in 2050

Yesterday I read this interesting article published by The Evening Standard.

It’s Diamond Jubilee weekend. Relax. Smile at the picture above showing how London might look in early June 2050.

Imagine 67-year-old William V doing a tour with Queen Catherine. The royal couple begin at Smithfield meet (rather than meat) market.

They glad-hand their way down to the river to watch tennis on one of the many artificial islands. The regal procession then moves east to the Tower of London, now surrounded by parkland. Then up a gentle green slope that tilts into a sky park, with an outcrop of towers that have bloomed over the years in the new Aldgate financial district.

Well, maybe forget the sky park. But this 2050 vision of the capital, from giant and serious engineer Arup and small but jolly John Robertson Architects, is one of three sets of plans showing how London might look in 38 years. All will be displayed at the Developing City exhibition in the Walbrook Building opposite Cannon Street station between June 21 and September 9.

Wander in free to see models of 100 planned developments, along with the two other sets of plans for London 2050. One is by architect Gensler and engineer Buro Happold, the other by developer Brookfield and architect Woods Bagot.

“Smithfield should become a new cultural quarter with the meat market becoming a ‘meet’ market,” says John Robertson, a jolly Scot who employs 19 architects in his Southwark practice. “The river from Temple Bar to the Tower of London should become a new ‘recreation’ space with islands dotted in the Thames.

“There need to be more pedestrian bridges. We need to link Southwark with the City. There is huge potential for two million square feet of offices, homes and hotels in a new Aldgate financial district set at the centre of a new master plan that links the Tower of London to Broadgate.”

The Square Mile itself should become “decarbonised” with many more streets pedestrianised, giving far more open space, according to the Arup plan. The workers will need it. Studies by the engineer show that by 2050 the City and its surrounds will have to make space for 50% more workers. But the poor souls will be given 25% less space to work in. In that case, maybe the sky park isn’t such a batty idea. Perhaps William and Kate will get to struggle up the slope in their old age.

Housing associations like their poor to be rich

Last week, First Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander held a meeting with the UK’s biggest housing associations to discuss how the Government could help them raise billions to build homes for the poor. At least that was the impression you might get. The truly poor simply can’t afford the “affordable homes” now being built by housing associations.

I came away a little shocked from touring the 36 new flats in Southwark, just put on the market by Notting Hill Housing Association. Not by the flats, they are fine, nor by the location but by the prices: £350,000 for a one-bed flat; half a million for a two-bedder and £600,000 for the three-bed unit.

Don’t blame Notting Hill. The association has to pay the market price for the land; then set market prices when selling. Buyers can buy 25% to 75% of the equity. The part-mortgage, part-rent and a hefty £150 service charge take the monthly outgoings to £800 to own a quarter of a one-bed flat. Minimum household income suggested is £31,000.

Housing associations still house the poor. But they no longer seem able to build new houses the poor can afford. “Shrinking government grants mean they have to borrow money and act like commercial developers,” says Jon Neale, research director at Jones Lang LaSalle. “What they are now providing is homes for middle-income earners.” So, Mr Alexander, if you want to guarantee cheap loans to housing associations that have £50 billion bank debt, go ahead. But don’t let them fool you this has anything to do with aiding the poor. It’s to keep them going.

Peabody not so affordable

The ghost of George Peabody would wail from the tenements he built for the “poor and needy” in 19th-century London if he knew how little their needs are being met by those building “affordable” homes today. That is not to take a tilt at Peabody. This fine organisation, founded by the American philanthropist in 1862, owns 20,000 homes on 219 estates across London that are affordable to those on less-than-average incomes. Peabody last month celebrated its 150th anniversary by announcing the winner of a competition to build 150 homes on a site in Plaistow. Up-and-coming architect PCKO won the prize with plans that are a far cry from the yellow-brick blocks off Drury Lane and in Westminster. Will the truly “poor and needy” be able to afford the 150 homes on the estate? Debatable.

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Double bill: You and Me(short) + Lost and Found

Korean Film Nights

7PM, May 24, 2012

Multi-Purpose Hall, KCCUK

Please note that the screening scheduled for the 17th has been added to the 24th’s programme.

U and Me (2008): weight lifter So-young is in third grade of junior high and she is in the same class as Cheol-gu, who is planning to move to Australia to study there. The two teens feel uncertain about the future that they’ve chosen, but their parents just force them to go on, regardless of how they feel.

Lost and Found (2009): This film follows a trip to Chuncheon. The college student believes that she will be filled with artistic inspiration when she sleeps with the famous artist. The painter is mad at the student yet he plays along with her due to sexual temptation. The film calls it ‘bad impulse. However, the bad impulse itself is not a bad thing. That same bad impulse sometimes leads a human into the temptation of art and sometimes provides the moment of truth in the throes of lust.

Korean Film Night

7PM, May 24, 2012

Double bill: You and Me(short) + Lost and Found

Please note that the screening scheduled for the 17th has been added to the 24th’s programme.

U and Me A (2008): weight lifter So-young is in third grade of junior high and she is in the same class as Cheol-gu, who is planning to move to Australia to study there. The two teens feel uncertain about the future that they’ve chosen, but their parents just force them to go on, regardless of how they feel.

Lost and Found (2009): This film follows a trip to Chuncheon. The college student believes that she will be filled with artistic inspiration when she sleeps with the famous artist. The painter is mad at the student yet he plays along with her due to sexual temptation. The film calls it ‘bad impulse. However, the bad impulse itself is not a bad thing. That same bad impulse sometimes leads a human into the temptation of art and sometimes provides the moment of truth in the throes of lust.

Multi-Purpose Hall, KCCUK

Video Games in Japan: Past, Present and Future The Present and Future: Progress to Next Level?

22 February 2012 from 6.30pm

The Japan Foundation
10-12 Russell Square
London, WC1B 5EH

Video Games in Japan: Past, Present and Future 
The Present and Future: Progress to Next Level? – Where is the Japanese Video Game Industry heading?

In 2008, the market for the consumption of video games in the UK became the second largest in the world, and it is still expanding. Within this situation, it is common knowledge that a great number of the games people in the UK play every day are made in Japan. However, the Japanese game industry, which has held an advantage for a long time, is now facing a series of challenges as new centres of video game production appear in developing countries. How can Japanese companies strengthen their position in markets around the world, taking into account the emergence of social gaming? Is the solution to prioritise the development of their human resources and rationalise the process of making games?

Prof Akira Baba, University of Tokyo, will make a presentation on the current situation and problems of the Japanese Game Industries and Takuma Endo, president of ACQUIRE and Development Director of Tenchu, a game which has sold 1.5million copies, will talk about where Japanese game makers are going. Steve Boxer, freelance journalist and member of the award-winning Video Games coverage team at The Guardian will respond to their presentations as a discussant.

There will be a prize-draw during the evening to win tickets to attend the Hyper Japan event, which takes place from 24th-26th February.

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to event@jpf.org.uk.

Video Games in Japan: Past, Present and Future The Past: Game Over?

21 February 2012 from 6.30pm

The Japan Foundation
10-12 Russell Square
London, WC1B 5EH

Video Games in Japan: Past, Present and Future 
The Past: Game Over? – How to preserve Video Game Culture and why it is important to do so.

Japan is known as a leading country in the culture of Video Games, but it was only in May 2010 that the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan started making preparations for a Video Game archive, in association with the National Diet Library. These developments raise some important questions – given that there has been much criticism of Video Games as potentially harmful things, some people would wish to ask ‘Why we should archive them?’. Have Video Games in fact taken root in Japanese and other societies to such an extent that they need to be recognised as a form of culture that is something approaching equivalent to Cinema or Literature? More practically, how can an archive of Video Game culture be made and what should be archived? Consoles? Softwares? Game Magazines? Finally, how should the Video Games industry, government and academia work together within this archiving project?

The Japan Foundation have invited Prof Akira Baba from the University of Tokyo – the chairperson of the committee on Video Games within the Media art archiving project of the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs – to take part in a lecture event alongside Prof James Newman from Bath Spa University, who is leading a similar initiative here in the UK. They will examine the current situation and issues that are arising from these efforts to create Video Game Archives in Japan and in the UK.

There will be a prize-draw during the evening to win tickets to attend the Hyper Japan event, which takes place from 24th-26th February.

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to event@jpf.org.uk.