How will the digital revolution affect the urban landscape?


  • Sophie Thompson, Associate Director, LDA-Design
  • Alan Thompson, Partner, Hayes Davidson
  • Rick Robinson, Executive Architect, IBM

Chair: Paul Lincoln, Landscape Institute Policy and Communications Director

Technology is changing how we understand and shape our environment. We are at the beginning of a digital revolution where the pace of new developments is quickening and the extent to which it will impact our everyday lives grows ever more profound.

As the boundary between the physical world, the mind and the digital world becomes increasingly blurred the latest Landscape Futures debate will reflect on the influence of technological advances on the way we live and work and the implications for design professionals.

Sophie Thompson has over 15 years’ experience in the fields of urban design, landscape design and masterplanning. Her main focus has been the implementation of high profile public realm and parks projects. She previously worked for AECOM (formerly EDAW) in London, Sydney and San Francisco. She has a particular interest in the technological changes currently happening in the industry: how things such as personal data tracking and real-time information sensors, 3D design, printing and manufacture, augmented reality, crowd sourcing and behaviour change will affect the profession as we know it.

Alan Thompson has worked in the fields of architecture, urban design, product design and engineering, focussing over the last ten years on public buildings, particularly educational and healthcare facilities. He joined Hayes Davidson in 2013 from CABE, where, as Head of Design Review, he led their business strategy, set up CABE’s London Design Advisory Board, oversaw the revision of core industry guidelines and reviewed projects including Crossrail and London 2012 Olympic venues. Before that he worked for Arup Associates, masterplanning a London media campus, and for Avanti Architects. He is chair of Art & Architecture, and acts as design critic for several universities.

Rick Robinson is a member of the UK Government’s Smart Cities Forum, the Academy of Urbanism and a Fellow of the RSA, as well as a contributor to UBM’s Future Cities community, Government in the Lab and the Sustainable Cities Collective. He is heavily involved in IBM’s project in Sunderland to deliver a City Cloud, and is a Director of Innovation Birmingham, in addition to chairing Birmingham’s Smart City Alliance

The Landscape Futures lecture series aims to stimulate debate about the future of the landscape and explore the major themes affecting how our land is used and managed, and how that use will affect the prosperity and quality of life of all citizens. The series is programmed in association with Woodhouse.