Designing London National Park City

Designing London National Park City

An Audio Journey Along Regent’s Canal
A new audio journey by There Project, with sound design by Deborah Ridley
Commissioned by National Park City Foundation for the London Design Festival 2020

What, When, How and Where

Available from Friday 18 September
Accessible 24/7 with own phone and headset via
Recommended starting point: Islington Tunnel, London N1 8AP

We encourage listeners to experience the audio journey outside or on location, but it can be tuned into from anywhere in the world. This is an experience designed for individuals to enjoy using their own phone and headset. Nevertheless, please observe current social distancing guidelines.

Duration: approx. 60 minutes

Find out more

Visit the project page on the London Design Festival Website here.

Project Statement

What if cities were designed as spaces for both people and wildlife to thrive? What if we thought like coots or peregrines? This London Design Festival, There Project takes you on an audio journey through one of London’s iconic landscapes – the 200-year-old Regent’s Canal. Taking a bird’s eye view, it questions whether design can help us become more ecocentric.

Starting at the Islington Tunnel, listeners will follow 15-year-old conservationist and wildlife writer Kabir Kaul, as he guides us on a walk East towards the Kingsland Basin Nature Reserve. Along the way, we hear from designers, thinkers, activists, and residents who are transforming our place in nature, and nature’s place in our National Park City.
Catch this audio journey on your walk between London Design Festival destinations (Regent’s Canal is a great green and blue link between King’s Cross Design District and Shoreditch Design Triangle), or tune in from anywhere else in the world for an opportunity to take a deep breath, transport yourself to the canal, and think about your own relationship with wildlife in the city.

Although this is not strictly a guided walk, we encourage everyone who can to go out and enjoy this audio journey outside, and if they can, on the Canal – recommended starting point is at Islington Tunnel (Colebrook Row, N1 8AP), walking East towards Kingsland Basin Nature Reserve (a leisurely 40mn walk). Please make sure to follow government guidelines on social distancing and outdoors gatherings to keep yourself and others safe. Own smartphone and headphones are needed to access the content via


  • Conservationist and London National Park City Ranger Kabir Kaul’s shares observations on the wildlife encountered along the canal
  • Award-winning design practice Studio Ossidiana discuss the importance of making space for wildlife in cities, and how designers should be more like gardeners
  • Author Richard Smyth helps us take a bird’s eye view on human activity and shares excerpts from his book An Indifference of Birds
  • “Goatman” designer Thomas Thwaites and Climate Museum UK co-founder Bridget McKenzie share their views on the role design can play in shifting mindsets and influencing ecocentric, regenerative cultures
  • Sabina Mohideen, Programme Manager at Design Council, highlights the urgency to adopt an ecocentric mindset when designing urban spaces, learning from indigenous cultures
  • Learn how the Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston have restored biodiversity in their section of the Regent’s Canal, turning the formerly industrial, undermaintained Kingsland Basin into a Nature Reserve – and their current fight for the needs of wildlife to be recognised in the planning process.
  • Gareth George, mooring ranger for the Canal & River Trust and a boater himself, shares insights into how life has changed on Regent’s Canal in the last decade

Themes explored

  • Designing a more ecocentric city: For most of our history, we’ve mainly been designing for humans’ benefit, and this has created a profound imbalance. To truly
    start regenerating, we need to learn to see the world from perspectives other than our own. Ecocentrism encourages us to see humans as part of a wider ecosystem, and invites us to challenge our inherited worldviews. Can we design for the benefit of other species too?
  • London Design Festival meets London National Park City: How can the London design community respond to London National Park City’s call to make the city
    greener, wilder and healthier? Who will join in to take on this ambitious collective design brief? This project aims to bring closer together two creative visions for
    London, and the communities behind them, starting with a conversation and a walk, and building up to a network.
  • Looking forward to the next 200 years of the Regent’s Canal: Turning 200 this year, Regent’s Canal has served multiple purposes in its history, from its industrial
    past to its recreational and residential present. It is also a place of ecological diversity in the city. Originally constructed to serve industry, and therefore to serve human needs, what if we designed the next 200 years for multiple species? Could it be more inclusive, more complex, more integrated, more creative and more beautiful? This audio journey brings together a diversity of voices to build and share long term visions for the future, and a call to action to transform them into reality.

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