Challenge Circles




The Royal Docks Taskforce is an academic exercise bringing together 12 participants from the Class of 2017-18 of the Executive Masters in Cities to advise the Mayor of London and Newham Council on their plans to create a new Urban Park in London's Royal Docks.

This website brings together information based on in depth interviews with Daniel Bridge who leads the Royal Docks team.


The Royal Docks Challenge is open to nominated members of the Executive Masters in Cities. To access the full information, please register using the invitation code sent to you.


Once registered please read through the information and data shared by the Royal Docks Team


The culmination of the taskforce are three reports delivered to the Royal Docks team in late August 2018



Since 2000, the Greater London Authority (GLA) has played a key role in steering metropolitan level strategy in sectors such as transport, the environment and economic development. One of the key innovations coming out of the GLA, is  its integration of economic and social strategies through a spatial planning approach, mapping out where growth and investment should occur and where economic sectors would most likely become more competitive. From the outset, the Royal Docks were seen as a key part of an eastward growth corridor that had the necessary amount of brownfield land to accommodate new growth in the city. Beyond the market demand, what prevented the development of the area was the lack of transport and social infrastructure to transform the site from what used to be one of the world’s bustling dock areas to a liveable part of the city. It is not surprising that without this infrastructure investment successive government agencies such as the London Docklands Development Corporation, English Partnerships and the London Development Agency have, since the 1980’s, been unsuccessful in kick starting development. Could the Royal Docks team, an entity of the GLA and Newham Council finally change this?

In 2012, the Mayor in collaboration with Newham Council published a strategy for the area that coincided with the establishment of London’s only Enterprise Zone, to be managed by the London Enterprise Panel (LEP). Enterprize Zone status gave the Royal Docks a unique opportunity to retain future business rates from current and new occupants for a period of 25 years. This would ultimately provide up to £800 million for upfront infrastructure investment. Having completed a competitive bidding process to find the right partners to develop the biggest sites in the area, Daniel Bridge and the Royal Docks Team now to piece together the different sites in the area into a new urban park. What should be the vision for this urban park? What type of uses and programming would you suggest? Who and how should operate the new urban park? These three questions form the focus of this taskforce.

The Taskforce

Meet the 12 members making up the LSE Executive Masters in Cities taskforce

  • Anupma Jain
    Anupma Jain
    Senior Urban Developmnent Specialist, ADB
  • Barry Cassidy
    Barry Cassidy
    Consultant, Barry Cassidy Planning and Development
  • Ciarán Cuffe
    Ciarán Cuffe
    Councillor, Dublin City Council
  • Ian Armstrong
    Ian Armstrong
    Director, DesignInc, Sydney
  • Lukas Sokol
    Lukas Sokol
    Urban Design Manager, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
  • Mai-Ling Garcia
    Mai-Ling Garcia
    Online Engagement Manager, City of Oakland, California
  • Maria Vassilakou
    Maria Vassilakou
    Deputy Mayor, City of Vienna
  • Nouf Alfalasi
    Nouf Alfalasi
    Innovation and Creativity Manager, City of Dubai
  • Pauline Chan
    Pauline Chan
    Urban Designer, Sydney City Council
  • Roope Mokka
    Roope Mokka
    Founder, Demos Helsinki
  • Sharon Lewis
    Sharon Lewis
    Technical Advisor, Government of South Africa
  • Ute Meyer
    Ute Meyer
    Professor, University of Applied Sciences, Biberach
Anupma Jain
Senior Urban Developmnent Specialist, ADB

Anupma is the Senior Urban Development Specialist in the Pacific Department of
the Asian Development Bank in Manila, Philippines, where she has worked for the
past thirteen years leading design and administration teams that deliver inclusive
and resilient urban and water projects. Anupma has extensive experience in health
and social development and strives to ensure projects are equitable, inclusive,
and demand-driven. She has also conducted due diligence on more than fifty
urban infrastructure projects, where she provided support on resettlement and
indigenous peoples issues. To date, Anupma has nearly twenty years’ experience
in international development and has worked across different sectors and regions,
including the Greater Mekong Sub-region, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and East
Asia. Previously, she was the Practice Lead and Senior Director for Gender and
Social Inclusion at the Millennium Challenge Corporation in Washington, DC.
Anupma holds a PhD in Social Policy and an MSc in Development Studies
(Social Policy and Administration) from LSE, and a double BA in Economics and
Anthropology (High Honours) from Brandeis University (Waltham, MA, USA).

Barry Cassidy
Consultant, Barry Cassidy Planning and Development

Barry is currently working in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with projects in transit
oriented development, FEMA Flood Map revisions, low-income refugee housing
and architecturally sensitive infill projects. He has worked in commercial district
marketing and development for over 40 years. In some of the urban districts he
has had a combined responsibility, including housing. Most of the areas where he
has worked have classic urban problems, such as disinvestment, social problems
and physical issues.
Barry has worked in rural areas, as well as in the cities of Philadelphia, Baltimore,
Washington DC, and Memphis Tennessee in a variety of positions. In Philadelphia
he has managed the South Street Headhouse District, the city’s main entertainment
district, as well as Kensington Avenue (‘The Avenue’) which presented all of the
worst social ills the city had to offer. Early in his career, he was a union organizer
in the Deep South, organizing predominantly minority industrial workers in the
furniture industry. Subsequently, he became an expert grant writer and has secured
millions of dollars for clients in the areas of adaptive reuse, transportation, the arts
and brownfield redevelopment. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has awarded
him Laureate status as an ‘Agent of Change’.

Ciarán Cuffe
Councillor, Dublin City Council

Ciarán is a city councillor in Dublin’s North Inner City, and chairs Dublin City
Council’s Transport Committee. He has served as a member of parliament, and as
Minister of State with responsibility for climate change, planning and sustainable
transport. In government, he reformed the Irish planning system to focus on
evidence led decision-making and published legislation to tackle climate change.

Ian Armstrong
Director, DesignInc, Sydney

Ian is a director at DesignInc Sydney and has qualifications in Town Planning,
Architecture and Urban Design. He has over twenty years international experience
specialising in the design of large scale master plans with projects in Australia, the
UK, China and the Middle East.
In Australia, Ian is experienced in all aspects of urban planning and architecture,
including the delivery of large scale mixed use communities and transport
orientated development.
Aside from his professional work, Ian has also been involved with teaching on the
University of Sydney’s Masters of Urban Design Course and has
been a final year design judge in the architecture faculties at UTS and UNSW.

Lukas Sokol
Urban Design Manager, Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council

Lukas is the Urban Design Manager at the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council
(UPC). He is responsible for advising the Abu Dhabi Government on matters
regarding urban design, masterplanning, and strategic development. He heads
the UPC’s Urban Design Studio, which serves as an internal think tank and project
design and development consultancy responsible for exploring, developing, and
testing government initiatives.
Lukas also teaches the Urbanism module at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu
Dhabi as well as coordinating Learning and Development Projects between UAE
Universities and the UPC.
Lukas studied architecture and landscape architecture at the University of Arizona,
Danish International Study Program and Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile.
He worked on planning and urban design projects in Panama, Japan, Korea, China
and the US before joining the Urban Planning Council ten years ago

Mai-Ling Garcia
Online Engagement Manager, City of Oakland, California

Mai-Ling has worked over the past decade to untangle complex government
processes and support community innovation. She is currently the City of Oakland’s
Online Engagement Manager where she works to transform government processes
and experience for Oaklanders. She is a co-founder of Oakland’s Civic Design Lab,
a collaboration space for government staff and the Oakland community.
Mai-Ling began her career working at Swords to Plowshares, a forty-year-old San
Francisco-based service organization. As the agency’s first policy analyst, she
worked in the heart of San Francisco to identify and communicate the struggles
of at-risk and chronically homeless military veterans. She has presented to the
California State Senate, the U.S. Veterans Administration and other key decision
makers on enhancing government processes. Later she joined the US Department
of Labor to manage grants to hundreds of non-profit employment programs that
included over one hundred community partners in eight western US States and
In 2012, she was named an Executive Management Fellow by the Federal
Executive Board of San Francisco and New Leaders Council Fellow. In 2017, she
was named one of America’s top 100 local government officials by Emerging
Local Government Leaders, a professional association for city government.

Maria Vassilakou
Deputy Mayor, City of Vienna

Maria is currently serving as the Deputy Mayor of Vienna. She has been a member
of the city government since 2010, responsible for several agendas including
urban development and planning, energy planning, climate protection, mobility
and transport, participation, and Vienna’s smart city agenda. Maria has been
engaged in city politics since 1996, first serving as a City Counsellor and Green
Party speaker for immigration, human rights and diversity affairs. She later served
as a member of government without portfolio and, from 2004 to 2010, as the
head of the Green Party of Vienna and the Green Parliamentary Group. During her
time in city politics she has been highly active in exchange and cooperation with
cities all over the world and is currently responsible for the implementation of the
cooperation memorandum between Vienna and Athens.
Maria’s first steps in politics took her to the Austrian Students Union where she
served as the elected representative of all foreign Students in Austrian Universities
and later as the Secretary General of the Students Union. She holds a Master’s
degree in Linguistics and Psychology from the University of Vienna and has
worked as a Research Assistant at the Department of Linguistics.

Nouf Alfalasi
Innovation and Creativity Manager, City of Dubai

Nouf works for the Department of Economic Development in Dubai as the Innovation and Creativity Department Manager. She is responsible for transforming the organization from a regulatory and service provider to an innovative agency able to shape the future using futuristic analysis and strategic foresight. As such, she manages key projects under the Dubai Future Accelerator initiative to turn ideas into unique innovations that will contribute to society. She also speaks at local and international conferences about innovation, employees’ happiness and productivity focusing on ways to improve work environment, culture and capabilities.

Nouf has previously worked for a number of government entities, including a role in the Prime Minister’s Office analysing competitiveness and innovation reports. She is also an active board member in committees and think-tank groups. She is a graduate from Kingston University in London with a Master’s Degree in business administration and a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy.

Pauline Chan
Urban Designer, Sydney City Council

Pauline is an urban designer with experience in master-planning, urban design,
architecture, and community and stakeholder engagement in the private and
public sectors. She is currently employed by the City of Sydney Council, working
across council and state agencies to achieve good urban design outcomes for
the city. Her role includes the development of public domain plans and public
domain design codes, and co-ordination of the City of Sydney’s Design Advisory
Panel. She manages multidisciplinary teams, consulting and engaging with key
stakeholders to plan for the future and deliver improvements for city precincts,
notably for Sydney’s Chinatown precinct, which won the 2012 Australian Institute
of Landscape Architect’s National Award for Urban Design. The latter led to the
revitalisation of neglected laneways to include new public artworks, lighting
projects and the rationalisation of a complicated traffic intersection to create a
new well-loved public space for Chinatown.
Pauline is also involved in the application of research and data to affect positive
change in cities. Since 2007, she has worked collaboratively with eminent urban
experts Gehl Architects to develop Sydney’s Public Spaces Public Life Study and
George Street Benchmarking Study, which has helped shape strategic directions
for public spaces and streets across the city.

Roope Mokka
Founder, Demos Helsinki

Roope co-founded Demos Helsinki in 2005 a hybrid consultancy and think tank
that is best known for its work on government innovation. Past projects include
setting up the experimentation model for the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office and
similar work with other countries and cities’ executive governance functions.
As an expert of societal change and innovation, Roope has fifteen years of
experience working internationally with cities, governments, corporations and
NGOs as a strategic-level advisor on future technologies, markets, and societies.
He specialises in helping organisations weather transformations in the world
around them and his work often involves cross-sector changes that influence the
daily lives of individuals.
In the context of cities, Roope has experience in activism, art, strategic visions
and in planning and developing neighbourhoods. He has worked with city
organisations, developers, transportation providers, start-ups, festivals, property
owners and operators in developing urban areas and services. He has also
authored and co-authored foresight publications from Finland’s country brand
(2010) to the world’s first report on mobile games (2001).

Sharon Lewis
Technical Advisor, Government of South Africa

Sharon is a Technical Advisor at the Government Technical Advisory Centre
(GTAC) in Pretoria, where she works to strengthen public institutions and practice
across the whole of government. Her professional mission is to undo the spatial
divisions, inequality and dysfunction that is the stubborn legacy of apartheid in
South African cities.
After becoming interested in the development and management of big cities as
a student of Town and Regional Planning at the University of the Witwatersrand,
Sharon joined the public service in South Africa. She worked on human settlement
policy at the Department of Housing and as a housing, transport and built
environment specialist in the public finance team at the National Treasury.
Realising that city development is driven largely by the actions of local government,
Sharon joined the South African Cities Network, a shared learning programme
that connects the largest cities. Subsequently, she worked at the Johannesburg
Development Agency, where she was responsible for planning and strategy to
achieve spatial transformation through area-based development.

Ute Meyer
Professor, University of Applied Sciences, Biberach

Ute is Dean of the Faculty of Architecture and Climate-Engineering and is Professor
of Urban Design at the University of Applied Sciences Biberach, Germany. As a
member of the university’s strategic board she is responsible for planning the
school’s interdisciplinary programme of resilience studies and conceiving an
institutional network of trans-disciplinary science. Before taking the position of
Dean, she was Director of the Institute of Architecture and Urban Development at
the university and initiated research projects about the potential of resilient urban
development in non-metropolitan areas.
Ute is one of two Principals of the urban design and consultancy practice
bueroschneidermeyer in Stuttgart and Cologne, which she co-founded in 2003.
The office has advised numerous municipalities in strategic planning and has
conducted research for the Federal Institute for Building Research Urban Affairs
and Spatial Development (BBSR) and the Wüstenrot Foundation.
Ute is a member of the German Academy for Urban Development and Regional
Planning (DASL) and the Association of German Architects (BDA). She studied in
Germany, Italy and the United States and has a Diploma in Architecture and Urban
Design from Stuttgart University and an MSc in Advanced Architectural Design
from Columbia University