UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Designing London’s Future: A showcase of innovation in policy making

8 November 2022

The Designing London’s Recovery Programme is a collaboration between the GLA, UCL and Design Council, taking a design-led approach to leverage innovation to tackle London's Recovery from the pandemic. The team reflects on our presence at London’s Design Festival.

CUSH GLA Project Design festival image of post-it notes

A blog by Gemma Moore, Julie McLaren (both IEDE), Almira Lardizabal Hussain (GLA), Ahmad Bismillah (GLA) and Frederik Weissenborn (Design Coucil). 

Over the last 18 months members of the UCL CUSSH project have been working with the Greater London Authority and Design Council on the Designing London Recovery Programme. This programme of funding and development support for innovators has worked to co-create transformative solutions with the needs of Londoners at the heart and to pioneer new ways of working with organisations across London. Eleven exemplar projects have been supported to drive green growth, build stronger communities, help Londoners into good work and activate our high streets.

Projects on the programme include:

  • repurposing existing commercial space to build a long-term public toilet solution (Royal College of Art);
  • creating places to make, recycle, repair, grow, cultivate and play (University of Roehampton);
  • developing the entrepreneurial potential of children through school eco-refill shops (Pupils Profit);
  • supporting female-led ethnic food enterprises (Kingston University);
  • animating the high street (The Community Brain);
  • exploring a child-friendly neighbourhood (Sustrans);
  • creating job tools to match individuals with industry needs (City & Guilds);
  • breaking the taboo of well-paid prison leavers in good jobs (Breakthrough);
  • encouraging land use for food growing in London (Shared Assets);
  • creating a network of micro-factories producing on-demand sustainable clothing (Pattern Project);
  • and using oracy to bridge social, economic, cultural and generational divides (Kafei).

We had the opportunity to showcase the work of the programme and projects at the London Design Festival which celebrates and promotes our city as the design capital of the world. We were lucky to host a range of events as part of ‘Designing London’s Future: A showcase of innovation in policy making’, held in the prestigious V&A. Designing London’s Future provided a chance to recognise and celebrate the efforts by many who are connecting, innovating and finding solutions to challenges facing the city.

We started the event with a networking opportunity, where innovation teams could connect with each other, whilst meeting others from research, industry, public and community sector to share their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for unlocking systems change. Attendees were impressed by what the teams had achieved within the programme, especially their ambition.

Sarah Hoyle, from Kentish Town Community Centre, reflects:


It was fantastic to hear about the diverse innovations helping London emerge from the pandemic as a healthier, fairer and more sustainable place to live and work. I shared some tips and got some ideas for my own work in the community sector


The networking event was followed by exhibition by the teams, alongside a panel discussion focused on ‘Designing London’s Response to The Next Global Crisis’. Panelists Alexandra Deschamp-Sonsino (Design Council), Gabriella Gomez-Mont (Laboratorio Para la Ciudad and UCL IIPP), Robyn Scott (Apolitical), and Cansu Deniz Bayrak (Bethnal Green Ventures) discussed how cities can use design thinking and design-led innovation to tackle the major challenges we face as a society.

Finally, there was a launch of ChallengeLDN, the Mayor’s Open Innovation Programme, headed up by Theo Blackwell (GLA). ChallengeLDN focuses on tackling the cost-of-living crisis, where the GLA will be supporting innovators to test and scale solutions for those most at risk of falling into poverty.

Watch our short video (7 mins long) to find out more about our collaboration on Designing London’s Recovery Programme:

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BKQOwPYIyE


Photo credit: Almira Lardizabal Hussain