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London Royal Docks: The potential new F1 track (from an architect’s perspective)

Written by Isabel Brito, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

Photo via LDN Collective and Dar

Note - The writer is an architect, and you can read on to know about her perspective of the proposed street circuit.

Recently, it has been announced that the streets of London are looking to host a race in 2026. However, this isn’t the first time there have been talks about this possibility. The proposal entices yet another street circuit, 5.87 km long, with 22 corners adorning the layout, and could lead to a possible transformation of The Royal Docks. According to the proposal, a feature of the track were its long straights and heavy braking zones, aimed to maximise overtaking.

The riverfront race is capable of hosting up to 95,000 fans on floating units, and can also boast of entertainment areas and hospitality units. LDN Collective claims that the units would be, “Movable and flexible in configuration, the 28 modules offer 22 revenue generating units and six high quality floating parks with different uses, from spaces to relax and socialise, to playgrounds, learning areas, adventure zones and exercise spaces.”

Photo via LDN Collective

Throughout the year, the floating boulevard would stay for 50 weeks, and be replaced for grandstands when the F1 race is in town, “As the F1 race week approaches, the embankment’s linear park can be disassembled to reveal the FIA grade surface, while floating units would be reconfigured to provide grandstands, food and beverage outlets and entertainment facilities,” (Source: LDN Collective). The project claims to follow the path of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Regardless, the mayor had previously spoken about the same in December of 2021. When asked about the impact of pollution, he stated, “Talks about hosting a Formula One race in London are at an early stage. Any future discussions will consider the overall impact a potential race would have on London, including on London’s air quality and wider environment.

I recognise that a potential Formula One race may lead to a one-off localised incident of higher levels of air pollution, in the same way that occurs around Bonfire Night. I would expect race organisers to ensure that any environmental impacts from hosting the race would be minimised and mitigated.” (Source: London Government). While London has pondered over hosting an F1 race, F1 themselves denied any plans of this happening anytime soon.

Photo via LDN Collective

From an architect’s perspective, LDN Collective’s proposal as an urban plan is innovative, and potentially revolutionary when it comes to the floating boulevard. A project of this calibre is a rarity, and an engaging project for the community. It promotes sport, entertainment and education, all of which are completely necessary in today’s society. However, they propose a sustainable project, and as of now, an F1 track would contradict what they are trying to do.

More than being a track set to host one of the most prestigious sports in the world, and all the effects on the climate of London, I don’t see the Docklands being benefitted in any way, especially with the delicate nature of a project near the water, and not contaminating it in the slightest. Besides, the encouraging “healthy and active lifestyles,” contradicts even more the idea of having a weekend of inhaling fumes from burnt rubber.

LDN’s “eventscape vision” is a project that should go ahead, potentially benefitting the city as a whole, as well as the community, and with the proposed “Green areas'', it would help positively impact the climate. I simply believe it just shouldn’t go ahead with the proposed F1 track, due to reasons ranging from possibilities of added pollution, to the extra work of dismantling the boulevard for a weekend and again reinstating it. In a city as populated as London, with little to no proper green cover, LDN Collective should look at prioritising better human life for the long term, and not just for 50 weeks.


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