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Urban Design for Future Lifestyles and Human Behaviours: Making our Cityscapes People-Focused

The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) hosted an exciting challenge-led workshop at the New Designers exhibition, inviting a broad range of industry and design experts to help three city authorities address distinct problems for improving the quality of life for people living there.
Nottingham, Oxford and London rapidly outlined their challenges to the group and were impressed with the quality of discussion and take-home suggestions from the audience in such a short space of time. 
Jonathan Shawyer from Nottingham City Homes presented their challenge of working across a consortium of EU cities within an EU Horizon 2020 project to deliver smart energy-efficient homes and communities. With different cities’ governance and contexts a potential barrier, discussion focused on how to validate, collaborate and reel in useful energy data from a range of parties to corroborate and create a neutral dataset. It also revealed that rather than try to force examination of the similarities across different cities in different countries, an alternative would be to test how the gaps and differences allowed for different innovations that could be validated using different controlled tests.
For Oxfordshire County Council, Bindu Varney outlined their challenge of how to move beyond the constraints of residential street design guidance, instead offering a more creative and collaborative way of working with local communities to shape the local environment and transport options. Discussion focused on understanding local communities’ needs in their current mobility patterns through analysing patterns in big data – and also using personas and profiling to understand the potential choices and preferences for prospective communities in future housing developments. 
At the Greater London Authority, Daniel Barrett noted their challenge was navigating the interdependencies across city systems and integrating open data and digital opportunities to more effectively utilise the city’s existing assets and infrastructure. The conversation investigated whether using a simple unit, such as the local street, could be a way of making these connections and solutions understandable e.g. in relation to transport choices, waste and recycling options, or how individual streets might be viewed as mini power stations linking up micro-renewables and local storage.
Despite the limited time available, each discussion generated ideas and appetite for further conversations that spilled out beyond the session, bringing together new collaborations and connections for the cities drawing on the insight and cross-sector expertise in the room. 
This article was written by KTN Knowledge Transfer Manager – Design Edward Hobson
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