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Small Grants from UCL GCSC
The Grand Challenges Small Grants Call is now closed.
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GCSC Small Grants
First Applicant: Dr Jyoti Belur (Department of Security and Crime Science)
Second Applicant: Dr Priti Parikh (Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
Katrina Kimmorley (Pollinate Energy, Bangalore, India)
In developing countries, urbanisation results in the formation of slums; neighbourhoods which are characterised by environmental degradation, lack of provision of water-sanitation, lack of access to affordable energy and dilapidated housing stock. Within this setting there is evidence to demonstrate that communal facilities such as public toilets, if not well sited and designed, could potentially act as crime generators, especially for gender based violent crimes such as assault and rape. The absence of lighting, among other factors, such as inadequate provision of basic sanitation and lack of police presence in slums, has been highlighted as facilitators for violence against women in slums in third world countries (Lennon 2011; Amnesty International 2010).
This research project proposes to test the hypothesis that provision of adequate lighting around public toilets in slums will reduce womens perception of insecurity and fear of crime.
First Applicant: Dr Mary Hilson (School of European Languages, Culture and Society)
Second Applicant: Prof Muki Haklay (Department of Civil, Environmental, Geomatic Engineering)
- Dr Marina Chang (UCL Advances)
- Louise Francis (Mapping for Change)
How can large complex cities such as London develop sustainable food systems? The UNs designation of 2012 as International Year of Co-operatives stimulated interest in co-operatives as a way of responding to this major challenge of the 21st century. However, while they are often cited as a means of bridging the divide between consumers and producers, research on co-operatives has itself been divided across different disciplines. Agricultural, consumer and worker co-operatives have generated quite distinct bodies of research. Seeking novel ways to integrate these disparate traditions this pilot project will map the current landscape of food co-operatives in London as a significant starting point to understand the role and potential of food co-operatives in feeding the twenty-first century city.
First Applicant: Dr Hilary Powell (Bartlett School of Architecture)
Second Applicant: Prof Susanne Kuechler (Anthropology)
- Dr Simon Werrett (UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies)
- Professor Julian Evans (UCL Chemistry)
- Dr Ruth Siddall (UCL Earth Sciences)
- Jonathan Gardner (UCL Archaeology)
- Maylarch Demolition
- London Metal Exchange
- AMR Scrap metal merchants
Artist Hilary Powell reclaims the base metals of roofing zinc and copper piping from demolition sites and scrap yards in order to create etchings that both depict and re-imagine the post industrial landscapes from which they emerge. Through imaginative salvage the work explores regeneration and economic transition through putting the physical remnants of industrial decline to artistic use. In the project creative production and the poetry and politics of place combine with the science, agency and political ecology of materials.
Emerging from intensive on site research and production this new collaborative project unpacks the material components of the demolition site (ZINC, COPPER, STEEL, CONCRETE, LONDON BRICK STOCK, ASBESTOS, LIME MORTAR, CEMENT, LEAD, SLATE…..) It follows the life cycles and journeys of these seemingly banal by-products of regeneration and examines what these assorted materials illuminate through their passage through and rupture with human systems of use and value. The story of each material, its place in the demolition site and onward journey will be told through:
A series of workshop events focused on each specific material exploring its properties, histories and associations with diverse experts from anthropology, chemistry, archaeology, science and technology studies and the arts.
A publication containing a series of stories made in collaboration with the materials themselves and an exhibition of these works
Client-architect interactions during minor domestic works: an overlooked opportunity for enhancing the sustainability of the UK housing stock?
First Applicant: Dr Aeli Roberts (School of Construction and Project Management)
Second Applicant: Dr Russell Hitchings (Geography)
- Mr Richard Hind (School of Construction and Project Management)
- Dr Niamh Murtagh (School of Construction and Project Management)
The decisions made by householders during minor construction works on their home will, in part, determine domestic energy consumption through the coming decades. With 87% of the existing housing stock likely to still be in use in 2050, sustainable cities of the future will require high energy-efficiency in homes already built. Owner-occupiers remain critical gate-keepers. In terms of householder response to policy initiatives aimed at energy efficiency, evidence suggests that cost and disruption are amongst the primary reasons for rejection of change. Yet when householders undertake construction work on their home, a financial commitment and an expectation of disruption are already taken for granted. Minor works might therefore be a point at which barriers to more sustainable change may be lowered. The proposed project will examine minor construction works as an important ‘point of change’ with significant potential for the enhancement of the energy-efficiency of existing building stock.
Our study will provide a detailed appreciation of the discussions between householder and architect at the start of a minor works project (extension, loft conversion, conservatory replacement or extensive refurbishment) to examine if and how issues of sustainability are broached, considered, accepted or rejected. This will be done through a novel ethnographic approach, focussed on observation of interpersonal dynamics in two critical meetings: the initial brief and the first presentation of designs. Through a detailed analysis of the resulting fieldnotes and interview transcripts, we will generate a nuanced appreciation of how the assumptions and interactions that characterise such minor works currently lead to more or less sustainable homes and how architects could encourage owner-occupiers to choose more sustainable homes. By exploring ways in which today’s householders could be encouraged to make their properties more sustainable, we are working towards more comfortable and healthier homes for the next generation of occupants.
First Applicant: Dr Helena Titheridge (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
Second Applicant Dr John Ward (Omega Centre, Bartlett School of Planning)
Dr Nicola Christie (UCL Transport Institute)
There is considerable evidence (Titheridge et al, 2014) that those on low incomes living in deprived neighbourhoods, are more adversely affected by the impacts of transport than those living in more affluent neighbourhoods. These differences include an increased risk of road traffic injury, increased concerns about personal security, and higher exposure rates to ozone and particulate matter. People without cars, those with disabilities, the elderly and school children are the most severely affected by severance (where transport schemes or traffic act as a barrier to mobility and social interaction). This combination of problems can reduce access to key services such as employment, education and healthcare, lead to social isolation and reduce physical and mental well-being.
However, current methods used to appraise and evaluate transport schemes are based on aggregate measures of the ratio of total benefits to total costs. Distributional impacts, if considered at all, are typically assessed using qualitative methods and are thus likely to be given less weight in decision-making process than total benefits given the current dominance of quantitative methods within the field of transport planning.
This project aims to assess the extent to which distributional impacts are considered in appraisal and evaluation of major transport policies, programmes and projects and critically assess the evidence that transport projects lead to distributional impacts.
- Dr David Shipworth (UCL Energy Institute)
- Dr Stephen Hailes (Computer Science)
- 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.
- Dr. Andy Chow (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Dr. Fuzhan Nasiri (The Bartlett School of Planning)
- 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
- Dr Nicola Christie (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Dr Liza Griffin (Development Planning Unit)
- 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.
- Dr Anna Mavrogianni (The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)
- 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.
- Dr Luiza Campos (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Dr Graham Woodgate (Institute of the Americas)
- 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.
- Dr Camillo Boano (Development Planning Unit)
- Dr Kate Crawford (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- 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.
The suburban food basket: the role of spatial setting and social context in providing access to healthy food
- Dr Shaun Scholes (Health and Social Surveys Group, UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health)
- Professor Laura Vaughan (Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)
- 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:
- Dr. Catalina Spataru (UCL Energy Institute)
- Dr. Hervé Borrion (Department of Security and Crime Science)
- 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.
- Dr Emily Morris (Institute of the Americas)
- Dr Julio Davila (Development Planning Unit)
- 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.
- Dr Stephen Marshall (Bartlett School of Planning)
- Prof Nick Tyler (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- 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|
- Prof. Susan Michie (Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology)
- Richard Jackson (UCL Estates)
- 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.
Community Engagement Grants 2012/13
- Prof. Matthew Gandy (Geography)
- Prof. Kate Jones (Genetics, Evolution & Environment)
- 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:
- Sound mappings including cartographic approaches to the representation of soundscapes
- Sound cultures including specific associations between place, music and sound (e.g. Berlin in the 1970s or Osaka in the 1980s)
- 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
- Acoustic ecology including relationships between architecture, sound, and urban design
- 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.
- Prof. Iain Borden (Bartlett School of Architecture)
- Prof. Shane Johnson (Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science)
- 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.
- Prof. Nick Gallent (Bartlett School of Planning)
- John Kelsey (Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management)
- 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.
- Michael Stewart (Anthropology)
- 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.
- Dr Shepley Orr (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Richard Jackson (Estates and Facilities)
- 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.
GCSC Theme: London
Lead: Dr Barbara Lipietz (UCL Development Planning Unit)
Main collaborator: Prof Mike Raco (UCL Bartlett School of Planning)
Additional collaborators: Prof Jennifer Robinson (UCL Geography); Prof Michael Edwards (UCL Bartlett School of Planning); Prof Susan Parnell (UCL Geography)
Project: This project aims to understand the processes shaping the possibilities for community voices to contribute to long-term strategic planning for sustainable urban development. It will consider how democratic modes of governance shape long-term strategic planning and city visioning in two different contexts, London and Johannesburg, through a systematic comparison of the recently published Revised London Plan (2011) and Johannesburg’s Growth and Development Strategy 2040 (2011) to explore:
- the democratic and participatory processes through which the strategies were produced. Do these reflect wider international definitions of a ‘good governance’ agenda and meet expectations of democratic urban governance?
- the extent to which the strategies reflect the interests of local stakeholders (including neighbourhood, community-based organisations and advocacy groups) and, specifically, whether the contents of the plans reflect local residents’ concerns for sustainable development, especially in post-financial crisis contexts.
The project will be among the first systematic academic interrogations of the revised London Plan, meeting UCL’s wider mission to ‘contribute to the vibrancy and development of London as a world-leading city’ and its commitment to supporting community inputs to making sustainable cities. It will pilot an initiative to develop comparative methods and interpretive frameworks in urban governance appropriate for an international approach to urban studies.
GCSC Theme: Sustainable Resources
Lead: Dr Fuzhan Nasiri (UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)
Main collaborator: Dr Sarah Bell (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering)
Project: Globally, reclaimed water is increasingly supplied for various uses due to aggravating water shortages caused by growing urban communities and climate change, more stringent wastewater effluent standards, and the expanding availability of high-performing and cost-effective water reclamation technologies. In the United Kingdom, however, there has not been a consistent and considerable pattern of urban water-reuse because historically there has been a sufficient supply of water. With highly increasing water demand in the South-East and more droughts due to climatic change, there is growing public and political consensus to establish water-reuse networks as part of a sustainable cities agenda. At present, the projects within the UK have focused on building and development-scale water re-use. However, greater opportunities exist, at a larger scale, with urban water reuse networks, to rebalance water use and demand, tap into unconventional water resources and improve the economic and environmental performance of urban water supply systems.
This project serves as a pilot study to investigate the feasibility, costs, and benefits of developing water reuse networks in urban areas with a particular emphasis on London. The aim of this pilot study is to develop a multi-university EPSRC research network and proposal by July 2012.
GCSC Theme: The Cultural City
Lead: Dr Richard Taws (UCL History of Art)
Main collaborator: Dr Jann Matlock (UCL French and SELCS)
Additional collaborator: Dr Barbara Penner (UCL Barlett School of Architecture)
Project: Our project will create a network of scholars in Europe and North America working on ruin, obsolescence, waste and demolition in modern cities. UCL Grand Challenges funding will support two focused interdisciplinary workshops and site visits designed to establish research connections and develop international dialogues. A website will accompany the workshops and a published collection of papers will disseminate this research to a wide public and generate international frameworks for future collaborations.
We begin with the premise that sustainable cities must contemplate their pasts as well as their futures. While researching the ephemeral aspects of cities might seem antithetical to an analysis of the sustainable city, we argue that the broken and the ruined, the ephemeral and the short-lived, the torn-down and the wasted, are crucial to policy as well as practices of sustainability. Ephemeral Cities will provide a historical and contextual investigation of buildings, objects, images and spaces that either fell by the wayside or were never meant to last. Investigating how ephemerality came to stand for the experience of urban life, we will ask how lessons from the past might help us meet the challenge presented by our own discarded objects in the cities of the future.
GCSC Theme: Sustainable Resources
Lead: Dr Murray Fraser (UCL Bartlett School of Architecture)
Main collaborator: Dr Camillo Boano (UCL Development Planning Unit)
Additional collaborators: Nasser Golzari and Yara Sharif, Palestine Regeneration Team (PART)
Project: The project is to design an entirely new building type called the ‘Learning Room’, which is being conceived in this first instance as helping with reconstruction in the Gaza Strip. It is conceived as a prototype for a series of annexes to existing schools that can be applied in many countries if the prototype proves successful.
There are two key aims for the Learning Room: firstly, to provide a community centre where residents can meet together to discuss urban regeneration plans; secondly, to act as a knowledge base for innovative forms of sustainable construction that can help with rebuilding in conditions of chronic lack of building materials, energy, water etc. We are also currently writing a self-build manual to help Gazans create low-energy dwellings when rehousing, and the Learning Room will thus act as the location where this knowledge can be disseminated. Families rebuilding their houses will be able to study different forms of construction and low-cost passive energy-saving devices. It will act as a ‘community laboratory’ in some of the poorest and toughest places on earth.
A test site has been identified for a prototype Learning Room in a school in the Zaytouna neighbourhood of Gaza City, with that project being funded by UN-Habitat with support from the Palestinian Housing Council, Gaza University, Islamic Relief and other bodies.
GCSC Theme: Sustainable Resources
Lead: Tse-Hui Teh (UCL Bartlett School of Planning)
Main collaborator: Dr Barbara Penner (UCL Bartlett School of Architecture)
Additional collaborators: Dr Sarah Bell (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering); Virginia Gardiner, Loowatt
Project: Our proposed workshop responds to the peculiar silence about sanitation systems in relation to sustainability. Discussions around sustainable cities focus on issues like farming, recycling, and water conservation, all of which intersect with sanitation and resource recovery, but rarely address them. New Loos for London? holds that sanitation must be part of any meaningful strategy for sustainable cities.
Our project aims to explore the viability of dry sanitation in London. In an age of water, energy and fertilizer scarcity, dry sanitation requires fewer resources to transport and treat waste than waterborne systems and offers improved nutrient recovery. A two-day invited workshop brings together key figures from bodies that deal with waste and sewers, entrepreneurs and designers developing alternative systems, cultural commentators, and interested members of the community. It will allow a focused exchange of information and views about the main technological, social, logistical and political implications of such schemes.
New Loos for London? develops on Tse-Hui Teh’s PhD research about London which found that some environmentally aware citizens were already using “yellow mellow” toilet flushing techniques to conserve water. This project aims to build on their informal efforts by considering how to implement dry sanitation systems at a community level.
GCSC Theme: Olympic Legacy
Lead: Matthew Wood-Hill (UCL Development Planning Unit)
Gynna Millan (UCL Development Planning Unit)
Steph Patton (UCL Anthropology, Manager, MyStreet: Doc in a Day, Open City London)
Dr Michael Stewart (UCL Anthropology)
Additional collaborators: Etienne von Bertrab (UCL Development Planning Unit)
Prof Muki Haklay (UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering)
Project: This project seeks to explore the potential of visual mapping methodologies (video and social media) to understand the impact of the London 2012 Olympics on open spaces in the city. The project therefore seeks to capture the ‘moment in time’ nature that the event provides to explore the specific questions ‘Whose Olympics? And whose London in 2012?'
The contentious use and ownership of open spaces in London is receiving increasing attention in the public eye. Since 2008 the Justice in the Green project has explored mapping techniques on the fringes of the Olympic site, revealing certain disconnects between legacy planners’ intentions and the aspirations of local residents and users of open spaces. Attention given to the Games has not focused explicitly on the changing importance of urban open spaces in enabling greater inclusion in the Olympic experience.
The project will operate through an online platform hosted by the established MyStreetFilms portal created by UCL Anthropology in association with Open City London. Our proposed platform, ‘MyOlympics’, will use this existing network to call for contributions from members of the public to visually map how open spaces in London are being transformed by the Olympics and related events, and how individuals are specifically experiencing these spaces during and immediately after the Games as the legacy begins to take shape. The anticipation in the build-up to the Olympics and the ‘feel good factor’ generated during the event ensures a high level of public and media interest. What happens in the period immediately after the event offers fertile grounds for continued research.
- Dr Robert Biel (Development Planning Unit)
- Dr Gemma Moore (UCL Public Engagement)
- Dr Kaori O’Connor (Anthropology)
- Marina Chang (Development Planning Unit)
Agri-food systems in London exemplify unsustainability. This project aimed to conduct a pilot study into the current landscape of food and agriculture in London, and to use university-community engagement to build dynamic knowledge.
The project involved a large number of UCL staff and students, including the Food Junctions network (33 departments at UCL and 25 community groups). Multi-disciplinary expertise was provided by members of UCL with an interest in food and agriculture, including those involved in public health, medicine, anthropology, geography, archaeology, soil science, environment, public policy and economy.
Around 300 guests attended The Food Junctions Cookbook launch
party, held in the North Cloisters at UCL on the 27th October 2011.
Multi-sited ethnographical investigations produced a research report with a comprehensive, but critical, analysis of the current landscape of food and agriculture in London.
The Food Junctions Cookbook: Living Recipes for Social Innovation is the result of a unique collaboration between UCL staff and students and London’s local communities. It explores the complex relationships between food, human society and nature. It mixes practice, politics and pleasure and ties people together through a common interest in food.
- Dr Luiza Campos (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Dr Saul Purton (Structural and Molecular Biology)
- Alessandro Marco Lizzul (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Dr Frank Baganz (Biochemical Engineering)
- Dr Marcos Cruz (Bartlett School of Architecture)
- Paul Hellier (Mechanical Engineering)
- Richard Beckett (Bartlett School of Architecture)
Algae has the potential to become a renewable source of biomass. This project investigated the feasibility of integrating algal production with common urban waste streams, such as carbon dioxide from exhaust gases and nutrients from wastewater.
Two working prototype PBRs (photobioreactors) have been built, a 10 litre and a 60 litre model. The larger photobioreactor, a development based on the original prototype, has been placed in the Darwin Building’s green house.Algal production can be integrated with many common waste streams, including diesel exhaust emissions, and wastewaters, providing environmental benefits to both air and water quality.
Biomass productivities within the reactor are high, but require considerable energy input. Work is ongoing to optimise the process and reduce costs.
- Dr Nick Shepley (English)
- Prof Iain Borden (Bartlett School of Architecture)
- Dr Andrea Fredericksen (UCL Art Museum)
The major aims of the one-day festival and the exhibitions were to present specialist research material from many disciplines, and to do so in vibrant, accessible, and sustainable ways, suitable to a broad audience.
Inspired by the spirit of the oympics, the event allowed individuals from around the world to share their explorations of the city with an unusually broad audience (almost 500 people – academic and non-academic – from across the UK, Europe, and the US pre-registered for the day, and an extra 100 attended on the day).
The event and the exhibitions juxtaposed and interconnected research from The Bartlett, Birkbeck, Central St Martins; the Slade; CASA (UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis), UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, UCL Department of English, UCL City Centre, UCL Urban Laboratory, UCL Department of Geography and UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies.
The event identified areas of shared interest and was the starting point for a number of collaborative partnerships: with the charity First Story, the Man Booker Prize, UCL English Department’s City Centre, and UCL’s Urban Laboratory.
- Dr Michael Stewart (Anthropology)
- Prof. Nic Clear (Bartlett School of Architecture)
- Prof Mark Tewdwr-Jones (Bartlett School of Planning)
The inaugural Open City: Documentary Festival was held from the 16th–19th June 2011, and Open City: Architecture was one part of it. Open City Docs represented a systematic collaboration between Anthropology and the Bartlett.
This festival, and the MyStreet website, are research and a form of
public engagement. They are a way to alter the University’s relationship
with its urban environment. This form of engagement, where research is
collaboratively produced by ‘the public’ and a university employee,
provides a model to be adopted elsewhere – e.g. in a new UCL site
outside of central London. Our staff now work for think tanks, others
are taking the model abroad.
There have been packed screening of the 12 best films at Open City Docs Fest, bringing new audiences into UCL. The best of 2012 films were screened on BBC Community Channel. There was an Arup Phase Two exhibition of 20 films May-October 2012.
Through the annual competition and UCL screenings this work is creating new conversations about the urban environment. MyStreet is a living on-line archive of everyday life, available for anyone who is interested in exploring urban life in London.
Open City Docs Fest is an annual live festival devoted to exploring the world we live in through the vision of documentary film. The festival was well received by the public and those at UCL, and t has become a regular fixture in the UCL calendar.
The My Street website uses amateur documentaries inspired by
Mass Observation. Ten minute long, postcode linked, allow people to
tell the stories of their places.
The work of 200 filmmakers has been inspired by the project.
Planning the healthy city: soft-normativism as an approach to problems of value pluralism and complexity in built environment interventions
- Dr James Wilson (Centre for Philosophy, Justice and Health)
- Prof Mark Tewdwr-Jones (Bartlett School of Planning)
- Giovanni De Grandis (Centre for Philosophy, Justice and Health)
- Yvonne Rydin (Bartlett School of Planning)
This project extends the framework used in the UCL-Lancet Commission report, ‘Shaping Cities for Health’, arguing that the inter-relationships leading to urban health outcomes are complex, non-linear and multi-directional.
This project aims to develop a new approach to managing complexity and value conflicts in planning, through a critical engagement between the values of the stakeholders, normative reasoning about the ethics of health promotion, and the constraints afforded by present circumstances.
Planning for health raises important questions about power and justice – questions which neither planning theory nor political philosophy in their current incarnations are well equipped to answer. This project establishes a dialogue between the two disciplines. The project will bring together several academic disciplines relevant to sustainable cities. It engages philosophers, ethicists and others interested in making public policy about how to manage value conflicts in a legitimate way under real world conditions
Workshop outputs will be published as in a journal special edition, and a website and blog will be developed at www.thejustcity.org.
- Dr Charlotte Lemanski (Geography)
- Dr Colin Marx (Development Planning Unit)
The aim of this project was to run a small workshop where invited speakers would discuss the absent role of ‘The City’ (in a spatial sense) from popular analyses of urban poverty.
Although poverty is an inherently spatial concept, the way in which the space of the city is represented in analyses of urban poverty is surprisingly uni-dimensional, focusing almost exclusively on the physical distribution of poverty. Consequently, the aim of the workshop was to explore how approaching the ‘spaces of poverty’ from multiple perspectives could contribute towards more effective and just poverty reduction policies.
By bringing together scholars from different disciplines (e.g. geographers, planners, economists), as well as development policy experts (e.g. from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank), the workshop facilitated wide discussion regarding the role of urban space in the theory and practice of urban poverty.
Urban poverty is a key challenge for Sustainable Cities, especially as those cities with the fastest growing urbanisation rates are frequently also those with the highest rates of urban poverty.
“The City in Urban Poverty” edited by Charlotte Lemanski and Colin Marx, will be published in 2015 by Palgrave-Macmillan.
- Dr Serge Guillas (Statistical Science)
- Prof William McGuire (Earth Sciences)
- Dr Simon Day (Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Centre)
Tsunami behaviour in the deep waters of the open ocean is well understood. This is not the case in near shore waters. The aim of this workshop was to improve understanding of the behaviour of tsunamis in near shore waters, and to improve models of coastal city inundation.
Dr Guillas organised the Workshop ‘Tsunamis in Port Cities from Generation to Impact’, held at UCL in August 2011, which brought together differing approaches and models of tsunami behaviour.
Following the workshop Dr Guillas became Co-investigator, in charge of the work package on the quantification of uncertainties in numerical models, for a 4-year, £2m NERC national consortium grant, awarded in 2012. The workshop contributed to framing the application.
Another result of the workshop is that Dr Guillas is now involved in an international network studying tsunami hazard, including UK, Japan, New Zealand, USA, Ireland.
Drs Guillas and Day secured funding from UCL Business to deliver results on tsunami hazard assessment, and they were invited to present the results of their to the insurance industry in the City of London in January 2013 http://bit.ly/17j97Cf.
A paper with Professor Dias from University College Dublin was written as a result of Prof. Dias attending the workshop. http://bit.ly/ZZZTFv
See the links made by Small Grants Funding
Posters for Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities
The links below show the posters by the year they were awarded
You can find a report on the Grand Challenges Small Grants Showcase, covering Grand Challenges Small grants awards made between 2010 and 2012, by following the link below:
Page last modified on 02 sep 14 10:04