The Bartlett School of Planning


UCL Circular Cities Research Hub

The UCL Circular Cities research hub is based within the Bartlett School of Planning.

The first of its kind internationally, it is an interdisciplinary, virtual network of scholars working on all aspects of Circular Cities. The hub draws on existing academic and practitioner expertise.

It is also an interface between academics and key urban stakeholders, enabling research to impact directly on the governing, management, design and development of cities.

The hub is supported by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

What is a circular city?

Cities consume 75% of natural resources globally (materials, energy, water). They produce 50% of global waste and 60-80% of greenhouse gas emissions (UNEP, 2012). Land and buildings are also under-utilised in cities. For example, in the UK alone there are 700,000 empty homes (22,000 in London).

Circularity in resource flows in cities can tackle the consumption of resources, such as energy, water, buildings and land.

Systems integration, flexibility, intelligence, cooperative behaviour, localisation, recycling and renewable resources are the key concepts under-pinning the Circular City.

In a circular city:

  •     resources can be cycled between urban activities
  •     resources can be cycled within city regions
  •     cities can be designed so that land and infrastructure can be re-used/recycled over time

Some examples of circular activities:

  •     Swedish eco-cycle model
  •     life-time buildings
  •     urban metabolism apps to encourage re-use and recycling of resources
  •     localised food systems

Hub research

There is limited understanding of the breadth of circular solutions available. But they should inform the way we plan, design and regenerate our cities. A greater understanding of the culture, institutions and regulatory structures needed to underpin a circular city, and the economic benefits, also needs to be sought.

Hub activities

  • Expert Database: a compilation of academics and practitioners working with Circular Cities.
  • International Academic Circular Cities Seminars encourage research exchange and network building.
  • Circular Cities practitioner workshop co-hosted with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to promote knowledge exchange and the creation of a practitioner-research network.

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