UCL News


UCL in the News: Ten questions to answer before building your eco-town

17 August 2009

In this article, David Bradley, 'Science', looks at what you need to do if you are planning a new city, mapping out a town redevelopment, or simply coming up with a blueprint for an eco site.

Matthew Carmona, Professor of Planning & Urban Design at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL, has ten questions you must answer honestly before digging the first foundations and routing the roads if you want your site to be sustainable.

1. Do proposals enhance their context, effectively join-up the range of contributions and therefore help to carefully steward in change over time?

2. Are proposals efficient in their consumption and long-term use of energy and natural resources?

3. Do proposals support diversity and choice in movement, access and land use mix?

4. Do proposals support human needs for security, social contact, comfort and artistic fulfilment?

5. Are proposals resilient enough to withstand and adapt to changes over time?

6. Do proposals minimise pollution of the wider environment both in their construction and long-term management?

7. Are proposals concentrated to reduce land take and energy use and increase urban vitality and viability?

8. Do proposals respect what is distinctive about their environment and help to build or preserve local sense of place?

9. Do proposals support the biotic environment through the careful integration of built and natural resources?

10. Are proposals likely to support the establishment of more self sufficient, involved local communities?

Carmona makes the connection between the theory of sustainability and the practice of urban design and draws on a huge body of research literature to devised these ten questions which hinge on what he considers to be universal principles of sustainable urban design.

Fundamentally, Carmona argues, good urban design can be sustainable, but this involves a lot more effort and commitment than simply reducing energy use and carbon emissions. He suggests that his ten questions provide the basis upon which decisions that impact on the social, economic and environmental sustainability of the built environment can be made.

Carmona, M. (2009). Sustainable urban design: principles to practice International Journal of Sustainable Development, 12 (1)