Back to Content

Duncan Graham — Asphalt Aspirations

An opportunity for change: With falling car use over the next 20 years, London will have the chance to repurpose its Motor Age infrastructure, creating new localised pieces of city where public space has priority.

Asphalt Aspirations — A speculative framework for London’s soon-to-be redundant road network. By Duncan Graham.



A12 East Cross Route/The Wider Arterial Road Network of London



To establish a framework for the future development of London’s arterial roads, placing emphasis on creating car-free, localised, green pieces of city that are fully embedded in their contexts.



With various technologies and societal changes on the horizon, car use in the capital may soon fall drastically, opening up the potential for the redevelopment of its road network.



The project proposes the transformation of a key road in East London into a car-free development that places connectivity, amenity, and localised living at its heart. The development acts as a pilot project, establishing principles at three scales to form a framework for the wider and more comprehensive redevelopment of the city’s road network.



By establishing a framework, this project will define new pieces of city across London, repairing the scars of the Motor Age and transforming the urban fabric for the better.



Responding to the city: Transforming a barrier into a gateway is at the heart of the framework. On the A12, this means opening up to the city’s urban fabric and making the most of the road’s form to connect people to new places and spaces.



Repairing the urban fabric: Removing a road should be like bursting a bubble – the void left behind must be filled by what surrounds it. Uses, scale, and massing blend from one side to the other, whilst ensuring the memory of infrastructure is not completely erased from the city.



A series of spaces: Occupying London’s road network means bringing public land back into the ownership of people, not cars. The A12 masterplan prioritises creating new open public spaces that serve its developments as well as the communities that surround it. Creating a series of spaces counters the monotony of a linear site, whilst making the most of the different conditions the road encounters.



Establishing an architecture: A linear site that expands across London requires a system that is flexible and repeatable; it also requires an architectural language that compliments but differentiates from surrounding contexts. Emulating the scale and rhythm of infrastructure has been used as a starting point, paired with a response to the solidity of the man-made landscape of the former road.



Further work

Contact details