Urban C:lab

Buro Happold has always enjoyed a good debate. But even more, we thrive on action.

We have invited future leaders from across Buro Happold to take up a call to action and pool their best thinking to solve some of the seemingly intractable urban challenges facing our world today.

This group has mobilised into a cross practice collaboration called Urban C:lab. Urban C:lab is a two year research and development programme that bypasses routine organisational procedures at Buro Happold. We aim to equip each ‘C:labber’ with the knowledge and skills required to influence real change in the communities we live, and work in, each day.

Gavin Thompson, the Partner who had the brainwave to set up this group, was keen to give ownership of urban challenges to the very generation that will inherit our future cities and the issues that come with them. ‘I am keen for the group to explore diverse challenges and themes – from natural capital, governance and climate emergency, to regeneration, the new rural and scarcity – but it must be something they personally care about and want to help fix.’

Fergus Anderson presenting at the Eindhoven

Knowing that we don’t have all the answers, and that the problems we are up against are extreme, we also reached out to some of the smartest people around the world. We have begun to pull together a likeminded community of experts – including engineers, scientists, doctors, architects, academics, organisations and governments – to take up the call, and work with us as part of Urban C:Lab.

We invited provocative architect, urbanist, writer and theorist, Reinier de Graaf, to launch Urban C:lab with a lecture that addressed the complex challenges of our global housing crisis. Reinier was so impressed with the following debate, he stayed on the next day to join our workshops and is now keenly immersed in the programme.

We have had the same reaction from other impressive speakers, and at the events we have attended. Five months into the programme, Gavin is delighted with the response. Topics being explored are diverse and thought provoking, and we are already attracting the attention of governments and decision makers.

But what matters is not the talking, it’s the action. Each C:labber has now set the ball rolling within their area of research, harnessing an impressive group of advisors and collaborators who would not typically work together to challenge the systems and models we have relied on up until now. And, together, they are working on solutions.

If you want to work with us to make our cities, and our planet, safe and secure for us all, we’d love to hear from you. Contact Gavin Thompson (details below).

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