The recent Future Cities Forum, hosted by Here East, brought together a diverse group of speakers to discuss crucial topics shaping the future of urban environments. The event covered a wide spectrum of subjects, ranging from promoting interdisciplinary collaboration in innovation districts to navigating the acceleration of AI technology in our cities. Our Director of Communications and Impact, Matt Griffiths-Rimmer, participated in the 'Innovation Cities' panel discussion, speaking on neighbourhood creation and the impact of meanwhile uses.
Innovation Districts: Breaking Down Boundaries
Professor Paola Lettieri, Pro-Provost of UCL East, emphasised the significance of knowledge sharing in shaping the UCL East campus. With a vision deeply rooted in collaboration, the campus aims to dissolve boundaries, fostering an environment where different programs, disciplines and approaches work together to tackle contemporary challenges.
Training and Technology: AI in Our Cities
Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, highlighted the importance of enhancing literacy safeguards in the face of AI technology. Her initiative, 'Newham Sparks', London’s first data campus, focuses on providing accessible educational opportunities, particularly for women. Recognising the potential intimidation factor of technology, Newham collaborates with local community groups in order to help bridge this gap. Matthew Drinkwater, Head of Innovation Agency at the London College of Fashion, stressed the necessity of training young individuals in AI usage. He emphasised that embracing AI is key to ensuring no one is left behind in this rapidly advancing technological landscape: “Let's train our young people on how to use AI, if we don’t, they will be left behind, we should not be scared of it”.
Culture and Funding: Nurturing Grassroots Initiatives
Eleanor Lang, Executive Director of Theatre Royal Stratford East, highlighted the challenge of funding distribution, where larger organisations may overshadow grassroots initiatives. She called for an intentional effort from anchor organisations like East Bank to bridge this gap and support the vibrant smaller organisations in the area.
Housing, Health, and Communities: Creating Lifetime Neighbourhoods
Our Communications and Impact Director, Matt Griffiths-Rimmer, highlighted the power of meanwhile uses in community building. He shared the story of the community well-being hub and food-growing garden The LightHouse and Gardens, stressing that meanwhile should no longer be considered an ‘extra’, it is an integral part of the development process.
"Meanwhile uses are the best way to build relationships. You’ll never get better data than that which is being told to you anecdotally, and meanwhile should no longer be considered an ‘extra’. It is an integral part of the development process. Mixed-use needs to come out of silos - trying to embed a connected and collaborative ethos into place is a big focus for us"
The Future Cities Forum provided a platform for experienced and passionate professionals to come together and discuss the critical aspects shaping our urban future.
The event stressed the fact that collaboration is paramount in shaping our built environments, enabling us to build innovative, inclusive, and sustainable cities. Together, we pave the way for innovation, data analytics, housing, and urban regeneration.