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Heathrow redevelopment plans go on public display

Words: Sam Waddicor

Designs by three architecture firms for the Mayor of London’s potential redevelopment of Heathrow airport went on display to the public today.

Transport for London claims that turning Heathrow into a new town could support 90,000 new jobs, provide housing for up to 190,000 people and add £7.5 billion to the UK economy.

As the capital’s population is set to increase to 11 million by 2050, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has suggested that wider infrastructure projects such as airport expansions need to take into account the effect that these changes will have on housing. TfL therefore asked the architects to provide designs that would cover several redevelopment options.

Hawkins\Brown’s plans centre around a factory for homes that will enable Londoners to order houses to their own specifications in an effort to mimic the self-build culture of other European countries. This would be achieved through digital fabrication technology that they say will make the endless possibilities as cheap as standard products. They also propose the idea of a green belt around the development or ‘a green belt within the green belt’.

Rick Mather Architects plans would look to use the existing structures and terminals to create a new hub city. For example, the runways would be used to define the structure of the city by dividing the development into 10 distinct zones, which would all provide a mixture of retail, education and community uses. Developers would also seek to create a wide variety of 21st century interpretations of housing types that have been successful around London including mansion blocks and communal squares.

MaccreanorLavington’s vision for Heathrow also includes using some of the existing structures, but also planting large swathes of woodland and creating a technology campus. The campus would be built to the east of the current site and with excellent links to the Thames Hub. Terminal 2 would also be renovated and turned into a civic centre and retail hub, forming the heart of the new community.

The mayor said: "We asked our architects to be as creative as possible and these designs illustrate strikingly different visions of a Heathrow of the future. However, the key point is that all these scenarios would potentially create some of the many thousands of new jobs and homes this city will require, given that London is expected to increase in size by a fifth within the next 15 years.

Darryl Chen, partner at Hawkins\Brown, said: “A big site like Heathrow needs big ideas. Heathrow City should be a platform for innovation on a massive scale. We want to capture the same pioneering spirit and romance that characterised Heathrow's first airborne adventures. We hope our vision inspires other new ideas about Heathrow's and London's future.”

Gerrard Maccreanor, director of MaccreanorLavington, said: “Heathrow has outgrown its location. It is not only a nuisance for many of the residential neighbourhoods in West London, but it is also a hindrance for growth. If London is to maximise its influence from coast to coast then the airport should move and this site should be the future catalyst.”

The plans will be on display at New London Architecture till 9 August and can also be found online.