New map and images by leading UK architects reveal network of proposed car-free zones across London

A new map and images created by leading UK architects has revealed how a network of proposed car-free zones across London could transform the city.

The ambitious designs would see parts of Oxford Circus, Regent Street and Upper Street in Islington pedestrianised to cut congestion in the capital.

Architects have proposed a network of car-free zones that would make it possible to walk from one side of the city to other without having to negotiate traffic.

The proposals, which would see entire blocks of central London pedestrianised, come after the Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to transform Oxford Street into a car-free zone by end of 2018.

Zaha Hadid Architects has contacted City Hall with the Walkable London project but said it had not yet received a response.

City Hall officials would not comment on these specific proposals but said they welcome the “growing debate about the future of London’s streets.”

Patrik Schumacher, the firm’s principle architect, told the Standard that the idea of a pedestrianised London had been on his mind for some time.

He said: “I have been living in London for years and I have seen  the traffic and pollution become worse and worse which lead me to walk more and more.”

Mr Schumacher added that after discovering it was possible to walk from Camden to Paddington along the canals, he realised how quickly he was able to walk across the city.

He said this “revelation” encouraged him to propose a network of continuous lines across London.

The proposed map shows pedestrianised routes across London (Zaha Hadid Architects)

“From what I have seen from personal experience in zones where there are cars and sidewalks, the sidewalks have become increasingly congested,” he continued.

The plans would see the creation of “fully pedestrianised boulevards” similar to the South Bank. Car-free walks would join up with areas that are already pedestrianised.

A visualisation of a pedestrianised Oxford Street (Zaha Hadid Architects)

Ultimately, the proposal would see entire blocks of central London pedestrianised.

Mr Schumacher said:“I grew up in Germany where the city centre is already pedestrianised, but in England there are only patches.”

Walking routes would also be based around transport hubs making it easier to travel between Tube stations on foot under the proposals.

The architect believes that the network would encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle.

His proposal is inspired by the different cycling routes across the city.

A mock up of a pedestrian friendly Regent’s Street (Zaha Hadid Architects)

“If there is a cycling network why can’t there be a walking one?” Mr Schumacher said.

The Mayor revealed plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street by the end of 2018 last year, a move which will see the western side of Oxford Street closed to traffic.

Mr Schumacher said that he had contacted City Hall with his proposal to build upon those plans but has yet to hear back.

But, he said the positive response he has received from the general public has lead him to believe there could be potential for a pedestrianised London “with or without” his own proposals. 

London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner Will Norman said: “Sadiq’s long-term vision for London places walking, cycling and zero-emission public transport right at the heart of our day-to-day lives.

“His plans include transforming Oxford Street and making walking safe and accessible in every neighbourhood.

“More than 6,000 responses were received to the Mayor’s draft Transport Strategy and we welcome this growing debate about the future of our streets. These particular ideas are both interesting and attractive, and we will consider them, alongside others, as we further develop our plans for walking and cycling in London.”

Zaha Hadid Architect’s Walkable London proposal is currently exhibited by New London Architecture at London’s Building Centre and will be on show until February 26. 

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