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BDP launches city observatory initiative

Multidisciplinary design practice, BDP is launching a new initiative it is calling BDP City Observatory; an industry think tank, organised with the Academy of Urbanism (AoU) to explore multiple issues facing global cities.

As part of a worldwide program of engagement, BDP’s urbanism, engineering, architecture and landscape teams will be working with the AoU and independent experts to understand the nuanced issues affecting cities, investigating how they might be addressed using world class design expertise. The initiative aims to create discussion and content that contributes to the wider urban debate, and informs the future of BDP’s own practice.


As such, BDP is engaging with writers, journalists, academics, and practitioners from eight global cities with whom it will work to prepare a series of papers on the issues their urban places face.

Over the next nine months, BDP expects to explore and find solutions to challenges including, but not limited to, climate emergency and carbon neutrality, urbanisation and birth rates, changing transport technologies, economic disparities and health and wellbeing.

The program of conversations, events and creative content will begin by looking at the challenges in London, Dublin, Toronto, New Delhi, Rotterdam, New York, Shanghai and Lima with solutions presented at a conference in Spring 2024. Each of the city’s research collaborations will result in the publication of a solutions-focused document, which brings together all the research to be presented to the industry, each year.


David Rudlin, Urban Design Director at BDP, explains: “By setting out this structure for the BDP City Observatory, we will draw out the common themes and strands in city design and identify regional and city-level differences.

“Devised as a long-lasting initiative, over a number of years, the aim is to build up an evolving picture of the way our cities are changing and to develop and invest in ideas that help the design industry to meet them head on.”

The BDP City Observatory will be launched at the Academy of Urbanism’s congress in Cambridge on the 23rd June at a plenary session at 4.15pm. This will include three presentations on the challenges facing New Delhi, Toronto and Rotterdam, followed by a discussion of some of the issues raised.

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