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How Newham could become the Green Lungs of London

Words:
Eleanor Young

Commended: Eco-Archi Post Covid by Mark Bonshek, Sabba Khan and Khan Bonshek was the only longlisted entry to address the vulnerability of minority ethnic groups

The benefits flowing from reduced car use.
The benefits flowing from reduced car use.

Commended: Eco-Archi Post Covid by Mark Bonshek, Sabba Khan and Khan Bonshek

You couldn’t ignore the engaging comic style presentation of this entry and its focus on people. Even more striking was its emphasis on minor­ity ethnic groups, both as disproportionate sufferers from the coronavirus and as those who are excluded from much planning decision making. Judge Asif Khan made the point clearly: ‘It was one of only two long­listed proposals that mentioned BAME issues around Covid-19 and it was the only one that attempted to do anything about it.’ The proposal addressed both these issues by showing local people and the mayor working with the whole community, including ‘old timers’ – one of whom tells the story. 

The proposal draws attention to air pollution, which plays a significant role in making populations more vulnerable to Covid-19. It focuses on Newham, which has the highest air pollution in the capital, and proposes making it the Green Lungs of London by radically cutting road traffic on domestic streets and changing cultural attitudes to driving. The lead character proudly boasts: ‘All the young’uns don’t even touch a car, “it’s so old skool” they say.’

 

  • Reclaiming the generous spaces of the street from cars, driving or parked.
    Reclaiming the generous spaces of the street from cars, driving or parked.
  • A vision of Newham as the Green Lungs for London.
    A vision of Newham as the Green Lungs for London.
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A diagram shows how the removal of cars is a catalyst for major health and social improvements – inviting streets and sustainable transport help to build local community, there is increased space, and better respiratory health and resistance to viruses leads to longer life expectancy. There is a sense of irony as the narrator reports that white flight is starting to reverse and gentrification is now the order of the day.  The judges were impressed with how this entry made the philosophical connection between health and wellbeing and considered the long term issue of air pollution. 

Judge Matt Jones saw a particular strength: ‘It has system thinking and is really a proposal about a method to convince people change needs to happen.’ 


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