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UCL GCSC: Projects


Current GCSC projects

GCSC & ISR Catalyst grants

Sustainable Resources for Sustainable Cities Catalyst Grants

The UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources and UCL Grand Challenge for Sustainable Cities have awarded five £5,000 catalyst grants as part of the 2013 BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities/UCL Grand Challenges Symposium.

Catalyst Grants are aimed at enabling researchers to develop realistic and relevant research partnerships across disciplines, and research strategies with the potential for significant national or international impact. These grants are designed to facilitate the development of projects which have the potential to produce on-going research activity. 

The winners of the 2013 Catalyst Grants are as follows:

Urban Pamphleteer

  • Ben Campkin (Bartlett: Architecture) 
  • Rebecca Ross (Central Saint Martins)

Radical pamphleteering and experimental publication traditions have historically had an important function in stimulating discourse about new understandings and uses of the built environment.

Each illustrated pamphlet in this series will creatively collate and present expert voices, across disciplines, professions, and community groups, around one pressing contemporary urban challenge.

Future & Smart CitiesDownload Issue 1
Regeneration Realities — Download Issue 2
Design and Trust will be launched in October

Complexities and difficult questions will be drawn out and confronted from diverse perspectives, in a direct and accessible, but not reductive or didactic, tone. The editors will maintain an independent stance, ensuring each pamphlet represents a balanced range of approaches, arguments, evidence, and examples.

Community Engagement Projects

The acoustic city

Lead:

  • Prof. Matthew Gandy (Geography)

Main collaborator:

  • Prof. Kate Jones (Genetics, Evolution & Environment)

Additional Collaborators

  • Benny Nilsen (Swedish sound artist)

This project will result in a book entitled “The acoustic city” based on collaborative work by Matthew Gandy and the Swedish sound artist Benny Nilsen who is currently the Leverhulme funded artist-in-residence at the UCL Urban Laboratory. Kate Jones brings expertise on the sonic ecology of bats, animal soundscapes, and the wider impacts of sound on urban bio-diversity.

The book will consist of a series of cutting-edge essays on sound and the city covering fields such as acoustic ecology, architectural design, musicology, noise abatement, sound mapping, and urban nature. The authors will comprise leading experts in the field drawn from a range of different disciplines, along with work by graduate students exploring sound or soundscapes in their research. 

There will be five thematic interdisciplinary areas, involving staff and graduate students at UCL as well as other institutions:

  1. Sound mappings including cartographic approaches to the representation of soundscapes
  2. Sound cultures including specific associations between place, music and sound (e.g. Berlin in the 1970s or Osaka in the 1980s)
  3. Acoustic flânerie and recoding urban sounds, including bats, birds and urban nature, as well as reflections on the "auditory self" with links to cultural history and literary theory
  4. Acoustic ecology including relationships between architecture, sound, and urban design
  5. Politics of sound extending to human well-being, noise abatement, and the changing characteristics of urban environments and ambient sound. 

A key innovation will be a CD accompanying the book that will include a variety of works from Benny’s residency at UCL as well other key examples of recent sound art such as Thomas Ankeschmidt, Ekkehard Ehlers and T.M. Schneider (with whom we already have contacts). I already have experience with multimedia research outputs through my AHRC funded film Liquid city and earlier artist-in-residence collaborations.

Rewriting Graffiti: A Research Network and Debate Series

Lead:

  • Prof. Iain Borden (Bartlett School of Architecture)

Main Collaborator

  • Prof. Shane Johnson (Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science)

Additional Collaborators

  • Sabina Andron (Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Marcus Willcocks (Graffiti Dialogues Network )
  • Prof Lorraine Gamman (Design Against Crime Research Centre)
  • Adam Thorpe (Design Against Crime Research Centre)
  • Dr Lee Bofkin (Global Street Art)
  • Dr Ger Duijzings (The School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies)
  • Dr Ben Campkin (Bartlett School of Architecture)
  • Dr Rebecca Ross  (Central Saint Martins)

This activity builds on significant existing knowledge bases and networks to further the development of a cross-disciplinary street art and graffiti research network. The project will explore the evolving roles of graffiti and street art in the urban environment through presentations and panel debates. Attempting to reframe deep-rooted preconceptions that have until now limited the progress of policies and practice related to street art and graffiti. 

The project will establish an open and sustainable discussion hub, for the exchange of a broad scope of viewpoints and expert positions on street art and graffiti, and for the evaluation of their impact on the quality of public space and the quality of life for urban communities.

The events will explore economic and cultural assumptions about graffiti. Graffiti is currently estimated to incur over £1 billion in costs to the UK each year, but in certain contexts graffiti and street art can clearly contribute positively to the environment and be valued by citizens in contributing to aesthetic diversity.

This project will address the contradictions between the legal and policy frameworks for graffiti and street art, the resources required to service its criminalisation, and its social acceptance and cultural and economic importance. Many official strategies towards the management of graffiti are based on outdated approaches defined in the USA in the 1970s, where graffiti tags were directly linked to threats of gang conflict

The team behind this project comprises academic research groups and independent organisations with access to extensive online and offline information distribution platforms. 

Collaborative Self-Build Housing in Germany: Lessons for England

Lead:

  • Prof. Nick Gallent (Bartlett School of Planning)

Main collaborator:

  • John Kelsey (Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management)

Additional Collaborators

  • Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin (Bartlett School of Planning)
  • Prof. Wulf Daseking (University of Freiburg)

This project examines the barriers and opportunities for collaborative self-build housing in England by scrutinising the experiences of households and policy makers in the southern German cities of Freiburg and Tübingen. In these cities, the collaborative build schemes have become synonymous with the environmental sustainability credentials of well known new neighbourhoods including Vauban and Rieselfeld.

The collaborative build concept has recently gained traction in the UK, against the backdrop of a long term shortfall in housing supply. The UK government declared its ambition to significantly increase the volume of housing delivered by the self build sector. Unfortunately there are a number of barriers including land availability, lack of finance products for group schemes and a lack of awareness.

The project will have two phases. In the first phase Iqbal Hamiduddin will undertake the empirical research in Germany with former director of planning in Freiburg, Wulf Daseking. The second phase will focus on impact, an interim report will form the basis for a one day round table seminar at UCL with primed representatives from central and local government and industry.

A final project report, user-friendly advice note to local government and would-be builders, and at least one peer-reviewed article will be produced.

Storyboarding the City - a film based research project for UCL Academy

Lead:

  • Michael Stewart (Anthropology)

Main collaborator:

  • Nick Shepley (English)

This small grant will fund a series of cross-disciplinary, research workshops with Year 12 Students at UCL Academy, with the aim of inspiring the students to investigate how stories about their neighbourhoods might be told through film. 

The workshops will run as an after-school activity, with an intensive two-day half-term workshop. Students will learn the skills involved in storytelling and filmmaking, and these skills will be put into practice as the students devise, shoot and edit their own documentaries. Some of these films will then be selected to appear at the Open City documentary festival and will be available on the One Day in the City and MyStreet websites.

In the workshops we will explore how each of us engages with our local environment and how we might present and explore this interaction-relationship creatively. Members of UCL’s Departments of Anthropology and English will direct the workshops, the disciplines offer complementary skill sets which, when combined, offer students the opportunity to navigate their city with confidence and creativity. 

This whole project is an experiment in creating a space for cross-disciplinary research on the urban environment. We cannot say in advance what the films will deal with precisely but we will orient the work around explorations of the city and neighbourhood space.

The project seeks to combine the ‘raw’ vision of sixth formers with the more rigidly historical and evidence-based perspectives of academic researchers. It also seeks to further a dialogue between disciplines, which sets out to share and explore various methodologies and approaches used in anthropological and literary studies. 

Effects of Behaviour Change Messaging on Reducing Lift Usage

Lead:

  • Dr Shepley Orr (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

Main collaborator:

  • Richard Jackson (Estates and Facilities)

Additional collaborators

  • Kristy Revell (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

This project tests a hypothesis about the influence of different types of messaging on individual behaviour. We will compare the effectiveness of different types of messaging on lift usage in matched buildings at UCL. This work draws on the psychological literature covering “self-determination” and the behavioural economics literature on “motivational crowding theory”.

We wish to see whether messages about reducing energy consumption are more or less effective than those that highlight individual health benefits. The different messages focus on either environmental (moral) or health (self-interested) benefits. The conflict between individual and collective interests represents an important motivational distinction, and is important to take into account when planning messages for behaviour change in the environmental realm.

Data will be collected for each lift before, and after, introducing the messaging. Before and after data will also be collected for a control site.  


Current Small Grants

Academic Year 2013/14

Seeing red: the impact of light colour on thermal comfort and energy demand in cities

Lead:

  • Dr David Shipworth (UCL Energy Institute)

Main collaborator:

  • Dr Stephen Hailes (Computer Science)

Additional Collaborators

  • Gesche Huebner (UCL Energy Institute)
  • Stephanie Gauthier (UCL Energy Institute)

The ‘Hue-Heat Hypothesis’ states that light waves with wavelengths predominantly of the red end of the wavelength spectrum are felt as warm and those toward the blue end as cool(er). Manipulation of the light colour could hence be a powerful tool for energy-saving in buildings if temperatures could be lowered under a reddish illumination in the heating season, or, conversely, be kept higher under bluish illumination in air-conditioned buildings.

The potential of energy savings through changes in illumination are large: We spend about 20 hours per day indoors, often under artificial illumination, and most carbon emissions are created through space heating.

Assessment and management of infrastructure resilience

Lead:

  • Dr. Andy Chow (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

Main collaborator:

  • Dr. Fuzhan Nasiri (The Bartlett School of Planning)

Additional Collaborators

  • Dr. Afzal Siddiqui (Statistical Science)

The resilience of our infrastructure should be a critical concern in planning and policy making. Infrastructure systems play a vital in sustaining urban areas and our economy: it is crucial to ensure adequate roads, public transport, power, and clean water at all times.

The vulnerability of infrastructure was demonstrated by the Fukushima earthquake in 2011. and closer to home during sever spells of winter weather in December 2010 and January 2013.

If we are to make the transition to a more sustainable economy and built environment, then we require improved policy making tools for infrastructure planning.

Infrastructure resilience is a complex and multidisciplinary issue. Two major shortcomings in current infrastructure assessment and management are: 1) failure of capturing the interdependence between different system components; 2) failure of capturing the responses of humans to infrastructure disruptions. This pilot study aims to bring together experts from different disciplines, gain deeper insight into infrastructure resilience from a multidisciplinary perspective, and identify future research activities.

Disturbed and disrupted: the impact of floods on mobility and consequences for health and wellbeing in cities

Lead:

  • Dr Nicola Christie (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

Main collaborator:

  • Dr Liza Griffin (Development Planning Unit)

Additional Collaborators

  • Dr. Helena Titheridge (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

The UK summer floods in 2007 affected over 55,000 homes and 6,000 businesses and saw the greatest number of search-and-rescue missions in this country since the Second World War (Marsh and Hannaford, 2007). Flood events are likely to become more frequent as a result of floodplain development, climate change and sea level rise (Environment Agency, 2007; Pitt, 2008).

It is estimated that 1.7m homes and 130,000 commercial properties are at risk from river or coastal flooding in England and many more are at risk from flash floods. Floods cause widespread disruption to transport and peoples mobility with a disproportionate effect on vulnerable members of communities. The Pitt Report (2008) reflected on the need to create resilient communities by helping them prepare, respond and adapt in the aftermath of floods and facilitate ‘recovery’. The Government now seeks to promote community resilience, defined as“Communities and individuals harnessing local resources and expertise to help themselves in an emergency, in a way that complements the response of the emergency services.” (Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience. London: Cabinet Office, 2011 p4). Regaining mobility is a key part of a community’s ‘recovery’. However, research has tended to focus on quantitative analysis of trip patterns from a transport modelling perspective and not the lived experience of people. There is a dearth of research exploring people’s experiences of flood related mobility problems and their impact on health and wellbeing.

This project aims to carry out in-depth qualitative research to explore the experiences of people who have experienced flood events to understand impacts on mobility, health and wellbeing. It will explore strategies people and communities use to prepare, respond and adapt their mobility and to what extent frontline services, emergency planning officers facilitate resilience.

Air PermeAbility: Cities Health Energy (APACHE)

Lead:

  • Dr Anna Mavrogianni (The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)

Main collaborator:

  • Dr Catalina Spataru (UCL Energy Institute)

Building air permeability is the uncontrolled leakage of outside air into the building space. This can occur at numerous points: through cracks, gaps around doors and windows, as well as through the roof, floor and gaps around pipes and ducts. Air can also leak through porous construction materials such as brick or blocks.

Air leakage through the building envelope contributes to ventilation, heating and cooling costs and has an impact on moisture migration and indoor air quality. Air change currently accounts for approximately 35% of total space conditioning energy used in buildings in the domestic and non-domestic building stock in the UK. Leakier homes are, thus, characterised by higher space heating needs and, as a consequence, higher CO2 emissions.

This project aims to initiate new research cooperation to support the development of multidisciplinary techniques to critically review air permeability in dwellings in the UK and collate the existing evidence on the building fabric permeability levels into a comprehensive database that facilitates in depth analysis. Due to the current plans for decarbonisation of the national energy grid, the energy infrastructure will soon experience major changes. However, more than 60% of the approximately 26 million existing dwellings will still be standing in 2050. It is necessary to effectively adopt strategies to improve the energy efficiency of the existing building stock.

Anaerobic Digestion for Small Scale Urban Farming

Lead:

  • Dr Luiza Campos (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

Main collaborator:

  • Dr Graham Woodgate (Institute of the Americas)

Additional Collaborators

  • Dr Paola Lettieri (Chemical Engineering)
  • Ilan Adler (PhD Student, Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
  • Marco Lizzul (EngD student, Centre for Urban Sustainability & Resilience)
  • Professor Nicos Ladommatos (Mechanical Engineering)
  • Dr Paul Hellier (Mechanical Engineering)
  • Dr Will McDowall (Energy Institute)
  • BioBolsa. Mexican company that manufactures the bio-digesters.
  • Hackney City Farm, London
  • Surrey Docks Farm, London

London produces approximately 1.3 million tonnes of organic waste per year. The application of anaerobic digestion is one of the most promising ways to reduce the impact this waste has upon the environment. However, there are considerable problems with many conventional anaerobic digester systems, particularly regarding cost effectiveness and affordability at smaller scale.

The project aims to show that these low cost bio digesters can be used to treat organic waste within urban areas, with the benefit of reducing CO2 emissions from refuse collection vehicles. The digester also adds value to the waste treatment process by simultaneously producing biogas for combustion and liquid fertiliser for use by the farm and local gardeners.

Urbanism in humanitarian settings: finding anthropological answers to the unacknowledged

Lead:

  • Dr Camillo Boano (Development Planning Unit)

Main collaborator:

  • Dr Kate Crawford (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

Additional Collaborators

  • Alison Killing (Killing Architects)
  • Brent Pilkey (Bartlett School of Architecture)

This research will build on a RIBA Research Trust funded project called (re)constructing the city, which Kate Crawford and Alison Killing completed earlier this year and which looked at the difficulties that humanitarians and urbanists have in trying to work together.

The original research captured the problems that humanitarians and urbanists faced in working together to reconstruct urban areas after disaster, though an analysis of neighbourhood reconstruction projects in post-earthquake Haiti. These challenges were presented and reviewed at a final workshop with practitioners and were found to originate in fundamental conflicts in the guiding philosophies and different professional organisational structures of urbanists and humanitarians and in the ways that the two groups conceive, imagine and operate in urban space.

This research brings an anthropological perspective to this research, through the critical analysis of workshop transcripts.


Community Engagement Awards

Community Engagement Projects 2013

The acoustic city

Lead:

  • Prof. Matthew Gandy (Geography)

Main collaborator:

  • Prof. Kate Jones (Genetics, Evolution & Environment)

Additional Collaborators

  • Benny Nilsen (Swedish sound artist)

This project will result in a book entitled “The acoustic city” based on collaborative work by Matthew Gandy and the Swedish sound artist Benny Nilsen who is currently the Leverhulme funded artist-in-residence at the UCL Urban Laboratory. Kate Jones brings expertise on the sonic ecology of bats, animal soundscapes, and the wider impacts of sound on urban bio-diversity.

The book will consist of a series of cutting-edge essays on sound and the city covering fields such as acoustic ecology, architectural design, musicology, noise abatement, sound mapping, and urban nature. The authors will comprise leading experts in the field drawn from a range of different disciplines, along with work by graduate students exploring sound or soundscapes in their research. 

There will be five thematic interdisciplinary areas, involving staff and graduate students at UCL as well as other institutions:

  1. Sound mappings including cartographic approaches to the representation of soundscapes
  2. Sound cultures including specific associations between place, music and sound (e.g. Berlin in the 1970s or Osaka in the 1980s)
  3. Acoustic flânerie and recoding urban sounds, including bats, birds and urban nature, as well as reflections on the "auditory self" with links to cultural history and literary theory
  4. Acoustic ecology including relationships between architecture, sound, and urban design
  5. Politics of sound extending to human well-being, noise abatement, and the changing characteristics of urban environments and ambient sound. 

A key innovation will be a CD accompanying the book that will include a variety of works from Benny’s residency at UCL as well other key examples of recent sound art such as Thomas Ankeschmidt, Ekkehard Ehlers and T.M. Schneider (with whom we already have contacts). I already have experience with multimedia research outputs through my AHRC funded film Liquid city and earlier artist-in-residence collaborations.

Rewriting Graffiti: A Research Network and Debate Series

Lead:

  • Prof. Iain Borden (Bartlett School of Architecture)

Main Collaborator

  • Prof. Shane Johnson (Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science)

Additional Collaborators

  • Sabina Andron (Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Marcus Willcocks (Graffiti Dialogues Network )
  • Prof Lorraine Gamman (Design Against Crime Research Centre)
  • Adam Thorpe (Design Against Crime Research Centre)
  • Dr Lee Bofkin (Global Street Art)
  • Dr Ger Duijzings (The School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies)
  • Dr Ben Campkin (Bartlett School of Architecture)
  • Dr Rebecca Ross  (Central Saint Martins)

This activity builds on significant existing knowledge bases and networks to further the development of a cross-disciplinary street art and graffiti research network. The project will explore the evolving roles of graffiti and street art in the urban environment through presentations and panel debates. Attempting to reframe deep-rooted preconceptions that have until now limited the progress of policies and practice related to street art and graffiti. 

The project will establish an open and sustainable discussion hub, for the exchange of a broad scope of viewpoints and expert positions on street art and graffiti, and for the evaluation of their impact on the quality of public space and the quality of life for urban communities.

The events will explore economic and cultural assumptions about graffiti. Graffiti is currently estimated to incur over £1 billion in costs to the UK each year, but in certain contexts graffiti and street art can clearly contribute positively to the environment and be valued by citizens in contributing to aesthetic diversity.

This project will address the contradictions between the legal and policy frameworks for graffiti and street art, the resources required to service its criminalisation, and its social acceptance and cultural and economic importance. Many official strategies towards the management of graffiti are based on outdated approaches defined in the USA in the 1970s, where graffiti tags were directly linked to threats of gang conflict

The team behind this project comprises academic research groups and independent organisations with access to extensive online and offline information distribution platforms. 

Collaborative Self-Build Housing in Germany: Lessons for England

Lead:

  • Prof. Nick Gallent (Bartlett School of Planning)

Main collaborator:

  • John Kelsey (Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management)

Additional Collaborators

  • Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin (Bartlett School of Planning)
  • Prof. Wulf Daseking (University of Freiburg)

This project examines the barriers and opportunities for collaborative self-build housing in England by scrutinising the experiences of households and policy makers in the southern German cities of Freiburg and Tübingen. In these cities, the collaborative build schemes have become synonymous with the environmental sustainability credentials of well known new neighbourhoods including Vauban and Rieselfeld.

The collaborative build concept has recently gained traction in the UK, against the backdrop of a long term shortfall in housing supply. The UK government declared its ambition to significantly increase the volume of housing delivered by the self build sector. Unfortunately there are a number of barriers including land availability, lack of finance products for group schemes and a lack of awareness.

The project will have two phases. In the first phase Iqbal Hamiduddin will undertake the empirical research in Germany with former director of planning in Freiburg, Wulf Daseking. The second phase will focus on impact, an interim report will form the basis for a one day round table seminar at UCL with primed representatives from central and local government and industry.

A final project report, user-friendly advice note to local government and would-be builders, and at least one peer-reviewed article will be produced.

Storyboarding the City - a film based research project for UCL Academy

Lead:

  • Michael Stewart (Anthropology)

Main collaborator:

  • Nick Shepley (English)

This small grant will fund a series of cross-disciplinary, research workshops with Year 12 Students at UCL Academy, with the aim of inspiring the students to investigate how stories about their neighbourhoods might be told through film. 

The workshops will run as an after-school activity, with an intensive two-day half-term workshop. Students will learn the skills involved in storytelling and filmmaking, and these skills will be put into practice as the students devise, shoot and edit their own documentaries. Some of these films will then be selected to appear at the Open City documentary festival and will be available on the One Day in the City and MyStreet websites.

In the workshops we will explore how each of us engages with our local environment and how we might present and explore this interaction-relationship creatively. Members of UCL’s Departments of Anthropology and English will direct the workshops, the disciplines offer complementary skill sets which, when combined, offer students the opportunity to navigate their city with confidence and creativity. 

This whole project is an experiment in creating a space for cross-disciplinary research on the urban environment. We cannot say in advance what the films will deal with precisely but we will orient the work around explorations of the city and neighbourhood space.

The project seeks to combine the ‘raw’ vision of sixth formers with the more rigidly historical and evidence-based perspectives of academic researchers. It also seeks to further a dialogue between disciplines, which sets out to share and explore various methodologies and approaches used in anthropological and literary studies. 

Effects of Behaviour Change Messaging on Reducing Lift Usage

Lead:

  • Dr Shepley Orr (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

Main collaborator:

  • Richard Jackson (Estates and Facilities)

Additional collaborators

  • Kristy Revell (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

This project tests a hypothesis about the influence of different types of messaging on individual behaviour. We will compare the effectiveness of different types of messaging on lift usage in matched buildings at UCL. This work draws on the psychological literature covering “self-determination” and the behavioural economics literature on “motivational crowding theory”.

We wish to see whether messages about reducing energy consumption are more or less effective than those that highlight individual health benefits. The different messages focus on either environmental (moral) or health (self-interested) benefits. The conflict between individual and collective interests represents an important motivational distinction, and is important to take into account when planning messages for behaviour change in the environmental realm.

Data will be collected for each lift before, and after, introducing the messaging. Before and after data will also be collected for a control site.  


Academic Year 2012/13

The suburban food basket: the role of spatial setting and social context in providing access to healthy food

Lead:

  • Dr Shaun Scholes (Health and Social Surveys Group, UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health)

Main collaborator:

  • Professor Laura Vaughan (Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)

Additional collaborators:

  • Dr Jennifer Mindell (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health)
  • Dr Angela Donkin (UCL Institute of Health Equity)

Food-related ill-health in the UK is responsible for about 10% of deaths and illnesses and costs the NHS an estimated £6 billion annually. Money, transport, the availability of healthy food, cooking facilities and knowledge and skills all affect people’s ability to eat a healthy, balanced diet.

This study aims to involve secondary school pupils in understanding and evaluating the issues which influence our diet, and define a ‘healthy food basket’ which is appropriate for different social and cultural groups. The project will also survey students to identify how often healthy food items are bought and how easy it is to buy healthy food in their local communities.

A paper describing the pilot study, the main findings, and methodological lessons learned will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. The project team will also present the findings at a year 10/11 (GCSE cohort) assembly (or support pupils in doing so) to inform students of academic research as a potential career option.

You can find out more by visiting:

Blackouts prevention and solutions through multi-disciplinary techniques (B-PAS)

Lead:

  • Dr. Catalina Spataru  (UCL Energy Institute)

Main collaborator:

  • Dr. Hervé Borrion  (Department of Security and Crime Science)

Additional collaborators:

  • Dr. Ivan Wall (Department of Biochemical Engineering)
  • Prof. Perry Elliott, (Young Institute of Cardiovascular Science)
  • Dr. Pier Lambiase (Cardiology Department Heart Hospital)

This project aims to develop new techniques for managing the risk of power blackouts in emerging energy grids. Healthcare, security and financial systems across the world depend on reliable power supplies, which are vulnerable to disturbance from natural hazards and technological failure.

This project aims to understand how complex systems react to disturbances, to support improved forecasting and contingency planning by drawing on power engineering, energy, mathematics, medicine, operational research and security, to develop new approaches to modelling power blackouts.

Two workshops with experts from a range of different disciplines will enable us to understand why systems fail and what we can learn from different systems. Collaborators will co-author a research paper aimed at wider academic dissemination.

Assessment of alternative transport models for Havana

Lead:

  • Dr Emily Morris   (Institute of the Americas)

Main collaborator:

  • Dr Julio Davila   (Development Planning Unit)

Additional collaborators:

  • Prof. Nick Tyler (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
  • Dr Juan Llanes Guerra (Centro de Estudios del Medio Ambiente (CEMA), University of Havana)
  • Antonio Villasol (Ministerio del Transporte)

The aim of the project is to design and assess alternative transport strategies for Havana. The project will consider the most efficient modes of transport for people and goods, and the role of transport in promoting public health, reducing CO2 emissions, reducing import dependency and creating a safer and more liveable city.

The project will highlight Havana’s need for a climate-friendly transport strategy by strengthening collaboration between UCL-based researchers with the aim of influencing changes in urban transport policy in Havana. The participation of a researcher from Havana University’s Centro de Estudios del Medio Ambiente (Centre for Environmental Studies) and confirmed interest of the Cuban Ministry of Transport means not only that UCL research collaborators will have unique access to the information on Havana’s transport challenge, objectives and constraints required to refine the research question, but also that the work can feed directly into policy-making in Cuba.

Cities for Human Locomotion

Lead:

  • Dr Stephen Marshall (Bartlett School of Planning)

Main collaborator:

  • Prof Nick Tyler (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)

Additional collaborators:

  • Dr Catherine Holloway (Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering)
  • Prof Michael Batty (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis)
  • Dr James Cheshire (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis)

The ‘City for Human Locomotion’ is the vision of an urban environment designed to expedite travel on foot, by bicycle, wheelchair and other human-powered modes (rollerblades, skateboards, scooters, etc.).

Currently there is a vicious circle whereby the lack of knowledge about the full potential for human-powered modes leads to a lack of provision; this discourages use of these modes; and their invisibility hinders the political will to cater for their use. This situation could be turned around, if we could assemble and integrate more knowledge on all these fronts.

The primary aim is to assemble baseline knowledge about the different human-powered modes, especially those about which less is known (e.g. wheelchair use, rollerblades, skateboards, etc.), their potential conflicts and synergies, and their potential roles in a sustainable ‘city for human locomotion’; hence to gauge the potential for where future research would best be directed.

 Bartlett news story about Cities for Human Locomotion

Behaviour change: reducing waste

Lead:

  • Prof. Susan Michie (Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology)

Main collaborator:

  • Richard Jackson (UCL Estates)

Additional collaborators:

  • Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
  • UCL Human Resources
  • UCL Union

Our study will bring together environmental expertise and behavioural science to investigate how people can be encouraged to reduce the amount of waste they produce, choose reusable rather than disposable products, and recycle their rubbish.

The study will investigate current waste trends and a survey to understand the factors that affect our likelihood to recycle or throw away our rubbish. This will be the basis of co-designing a prototype intervention with a building users group established for this purpose. This study will produce a prototype intervention, outcome measures and a building users group that is planned to lead to a subsequent pilot of implementing the intervention and evaluating its impact in a controlled trial to pilot the methods and feasibility of a controlled trial and methods for measuring the impact of the intervention.


Explore previous GCSC projects

View the Outcomes section of the GCSC website for more detail on project outputs, including previous small grants.

London 2062

The UCL London 2062 project aims to gather evidence about the forces and factors that shape London and to identify points of debate and decision regarding what the city might be five decades from now. This process involves synthesising the diverse expertise within the academic community at UCL and elsewhere, together with London’s citizens, government, professions, artists, media and other public institutions.

London 2062 website

Highlights include

Urban Water Poverty

To mark the mid-point of the international decade of ‘Water for Life’ and the last five years of the Millennium Development Goals, the UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities held a public panel discussion and an expert symposium on the topic of urban water poverty. A range of perspectives were published in a special issue of the ‘International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development’.

More on the Urban Water Poverty Panel Discussion and Symposium

More on the special journal issue for Urban Water Poverty

Cities & Migration

A report by Dr Laura Vaughan (UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies), Beyond the Ghetto – An interdisciplinary perspective on patterns of ethnicity in the built environment, has been published to mark UCL Migration Week.

Healthy Cities Commission (UCL-Lancet)

lancet-cover

"The Commission ... proposes a new approach to the analysis and promotion of urban health, one that recognises the uniqueness and complexity of cities."

Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet

Following the first UCL-Lancet Commission on the Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change (published in The Lancet on 16 May 2009), UCL and The Lancet are collaborating again on a second Commission report. 

The Healthy Cities Commission is a UCL Grand Challenge on Sustainable Cities project on the role that urban planning can and should play in delivering health improvements through reshaping the urban fabric of our cities. The project has involved 19 academics and students from a variety of disciplines led by Yvonne Rydin, Professor of Planning Environment and Public Policy in the UCL Bartlett School of Planning.


Abstract from GCSC Healthy Cities Commission Report

UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities Healthy Cities Commission

Abstract from GCSC Healthy Cities Commission report 

With almost thirty years experience from the Healthy Cities movement, we are increasingly aware of the features that transform a city into a healthy one. What is less well understood is how to deliver the potential health benefits and how to ensure that they reach all citizens in urban contexts across the world. This is an increasingly important task given that the majority of the world’s population already live in cities and that, with current high rates of urbanisation; many millions more will soon do so. We provide an analysis of how health outcomes are part of the complexity of urban processes, arguing against the assumption that urban health outcomes will improve with economic growth and demographic change. Instead, we highlight the role that urban planning can and should play in delivering health improvements through reshaping the urban fabric of our cities. We consider this through case studies of sanitation and wastewater management, urban mobility, building standards, the urban heat island effect and urban agriculture. We follow this with a discussion of the implications of a complexity approach for planning of urban environments, emphasising project-based experimentation and evaluation leading to self-reflection and dialogue.


Key Messages

  • Cities are complex systems, so that health outcomes are emergent properties
  • The urban advantage in health outcomes has to be actively promoted and maintained
  • Inequalities in health outcomes should be recognised at the urban scale
  • A linear or cyclical planning approach is insufficient in conditions of complexity
  • Urban planning for health needs to emphasise experimentation through projects
  • Evaluation leading to dialogue between stakeholders and self-reflection is essential

This is an abstract of a report submitted in February 2012 for publication in The Lancet.

The project has involved 19 academics and students from a variety of disciplines led by Yvonne Rydin, Professor of Planning Environment and Public Policy in the UCL Bartlett School of Planning.


Carbon Governance

Carbon Governance

C O 2 drawn in spray paint

The Carbon Governance Project aims to provide a new insight into the approach necessary to address human-induced climate change. The project explores the governance actions necessary to limit future human carbon emissions whilst recognising that the use of carbon must meet the Millennium Development Goals, maintain global social and economic stability and achieve a transition to a low-carbon economy and a sustainable energy supply for the long-term future.

It encompasses three sub-projects:

The project involves academics from Earth Sciences, Geography, Laws, Energy Institute, SEESS, Development Planning Unit, School of Public Policy; Science and Technology Studies, Geography, and Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology.

Thinking Across Boundaries: Planning Dilemmas in the Urban Global South

Thinking Across Boundaries: Planning Dilemmas in the Urban Global South

The notion of the ‘urban global south’ looms large in contemporary debates about urbanisation, development and globalisation. UCL's Development Planning Unit (DPU) is critically reflecting on this dominant theme. It convened a panel discussion at the 2013 Royal Geographical Society Annual Conference in London and commissioning a video featuring the DPU in conversation with key actors in the debate.

Thinking across boundaries considers three main questions:

  1. Why call it the urban global south?
  2. What kind of practice does it require?
  3. What kind of theory is required for the urban global south?

DPU Thinking across bounderies: Planning Dilemmas in the Global Urban South from Development Planning Unit on Vimeo.

 

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Page last modified on 07 feb 14 11:29