UCL News


UrbanBuzz launches final publication

3 June 2009


The Complete UrbanBuzz ucl.ac.uk/urbanbuzz/" target="_self">UrbanBuzz
  • The Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities
  • UCL celebrated its UrbanBuzz: Building Sustainable Communities programme with the launch of a publication, 'The Complete UrbanBuzz', on 2 June 2009.

    In 2007 UCL received an unprecedented £5 million award from the Higher Education Innovation Fund, and leveraged that amount up to £7.75 million, to create a unique two-year knowledge-exchange programme, the outcomes of which are described in the final publication. UCL used this 'risk capital' to unlock potential by funding 27 projects, most of which have delivered new tools and processes grounded in the evidence base for the benefit of those interested or engaged in creating and shaping the places in which people live.

    Professor Tim Broyd, Group Technology Director of Halcrow, and Chair of the UrbanBuzz Programme Board, welcomed about 200 people - more than half of whom were from the private sector - to the launch.

    Professor Alan Penn (UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies), pictured, provided the academic lead on the programme. He described sustainable communities as "complex ecological systems", the improvement of which required collaborations across the relevant disciplines and professions. This necessitated collaborators to overcome cultural and methodological divides, and work across the "silos" of knowledge, institutions, regulations and professions.

    Professor Malcolm Grant, UCL President and Provost, said many of the lessons learned through UrbanBuzz would inform work on the Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities, UCL's programme to bring together the breadth of its expertise to address complex and systemic problems in the urban environment.

    Dr Jayne Crosse, Director of Strategy of the Homes & Communities Academy (HCA), outlined some synergies between the UrbanBuzz ethos and that of her own organisation. Presentations on seven UrbanBuzz projects followed.

    David Cobb, UrbanBuzz Programme Director, said: "'The Complete UrbanBuzz' tells a story of triumph over unreasonable logistics and deadlines. The programme will be remembered by its more than 150 participating organisations for its unique culture of openness and its focus on outcomes. The enduring human and virtual networks created by UrbanBuzz will continue to be harnessed by UCL to help it deliver future aspirations, such as the Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities, the planned new Thames Gateway Institute for Sustainability, the UCL Environment Institute, the UCL Urban Laboratory and the new UCL Energy Institute, to name just a few.

    "The book will become an essential reference for practitioners in the professional, trade, policy, academic and community sectors - in particular where the acquisition of new techniques and processes are key to personal and professional development."

    To find out more, use the links at the top of this article.

    What makes a community 'sustainable'?

    Afraa Ali (left) and Zehra Lalji were winners of the UrbanBuzz UCL student competition to frame a 50-word response to the question: What makes a community 'sustainable'?

    Afraa replied: "Inclusivity is what makes a community sustainable, a tolerant and cohesive environment that has equal representation. One that is has a strong transport network that bridges people closer to job opportunities, schools and health services and most importantly to each other. A strong thriving local economy that represents the needs and preferences of its residents as well as a thoughtfully designed space for people to not only live but simply 'be'."

    Zehra wrote: "Communities are sustainable when their members observe a mutual respect towards each other, share common values, hold the critical mass to determine and pursue common goals and pass on the traditions to future generations. Such communities can construct their own identities in all aspects of culture."