What We Do
The Project Workplan in Four Phases
Over 80% of the UK population lives in urban environments and this figure is increasing. This trend means making cities more sustainable is a top priority - for national Government, for city councils and for the people who live, work and visit urban areas. The last 10 years has seen a concerted effort within the UK to develop, apply and assess sustainability solutions for the present and near future. There now exists the need to test solutions against alternative future scenarios. The team's research addresses the challenge of developing future scenarios for the year 2050 that will provide insights into the potential impacts of today's urban design decisions. If the outcomes from a proposed solution are similar, regardless of the future against which it is tested, and they deliver a positive legacy, then they can be adopted with confidence. Where there are very different outcomes depending on the future, the solutions can be modified to create an optimum outcome regardless of the future, or at the very least planning can be based on knowledge of the likely impacts if the future develops in different ways.
The Project timeline has been divided into four phases:
Scenario Development - Phase 1
(0-6 months – completed by the end of 2008)
The first six months of the project were dedicated to developing the future scenarios and a set of indicators against which the project's eight research areas can be tested. Based on an extensive literature review, the team has decided to move ahead with four future scenarios:
Policy Reform: strong government action achieves social equity and environmental protection.
Market Forces: competitive, open and integrated global markets drive world development.
Fortress World: in protected enclaves elites safeguard their privilege by controlling an impoverished majority and managing critical natural resources.
New Sustainability Paradigm: a more humane and equitable global civilization.
Urban Forms Development - Phase 2
(7-18 months - completed by the end of 2009)
This phase required the establishment of the very different urban characteristics that might derive from the four scenarios, with input from the complete range of discipline backgrounds encompassed within the project. The team worked closely together to produce an InteractiveToolkit, which includes a mix of Contextual Indicators and Sustainability Indicators which are relevant now and in the future. To test the urban characteristics, rigorous questions for each scenario were framed by each Research Area and a pilot case study took place in Birmingham Eastside, applying and testing the Toolkit. Optimised solutions were recommended for each scenario. Phase 2 also saw some of the initial work on developing answers to these questions, and the responses helped to shape the specifications of urban characteristics.
Research Area-Specific Investigations - Phase 3
(19-42 months - to be completed by the end of 2011)
This phase predominantly consists of Research Area-specific investigations, with assessments of the four future scenario concepts deriving from Phase 2. Recommendations are being developed as to how the sustainability of the urban forms may be increased. Along with Birmingham Eastside, Lancaster and Worcester are being used as case study sites to develop and test sustainability ideas and the Interactive Toolkit. The application of the Toolkit across the four future scenarios will enable testing and refinement of the Toolkit, along with derivation of internally consistent answers. The case study sites will be envisioned in each of the four different future scenarios, allowing for 'optimisation' of today's solutions in order that they remain relevant, no matter how the future develops.
Scenario Testing and Development of Guidelines - Phase 4
(43-48 months - to be completed by the end of the project, April 2012)
The final phase of the project will test the dimensions of the future scenarios vis a vis their design, implementation and performance and the scenarios will be refined accordingly. Guidelines will be developed that aim to enhance the sustainability of today's urban regeneration decisions.