Cities sometime get a bad press for pollution, waste and confinement, but planners are increasingly using modern research, design and engineering to respond to the environmental issues that come with dense urban living. London has done much in recent years to improve its sustainability credentials, with some fascinating and innovative designs that stand out if you know where to look for them.
One key area undergoing such changes is Oxford Street, a must-do for people visiting London and one in massive need of regeneration and modernisation. 500, 000 people walk through it per day, fighting for space on the undersized pavements. It’s a reminder of a London past, before population density reached modern levels.
The street’s popularity as a shopping destination is matched only by its rampant pollution levels – some of the worst in the city and shamefully above EU guidelines. But choking on lungfuls of car, bus and lorry exhaust is set to become a thing of the past in 2018 with the opening of the pedestrianised zone. Not only will it reduce pollution by cutting out dirty vehicles, it is supposed to reinvigorate the area that many Londoners only go when absolutely necessary (last minute presents anyone?) due to the smog and bustle.
On one level pedestrianizing a street sounds simple – don’t you just stop the cars? But Oxford Street is such a vital artery through central London that the changes have taken a massive effort to orchestrate. Here’s how they’ve done it: