UCL Urban Laboratory


Rethinking Urban Nature: European Research Council awards grant for new Urban Lab research programme

29 August 2013

Berlin (2006) by Matthew Gandy

We are delighted to announce the award of a prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grant of €2,484,238 for the project 'Rethinking Urban Nature', to be led by Professor Matthew Gandy, with the Urban Laboratory as the project's intellectual and administrative hub. This major five-year cross-disciplinary project involves the employment of three postdoctoral researchers and two doctoral students to study forms of urban nature in Berlin, Chennai, London and Tallinn.

The idea behind this ground-breaking project is to challenge existing understandings of urban nature using an innovative interdisciplinary framework in a comparative international context. The project provides a new theoretical approach that moves beyond existing research to provide a novel synthesis between advances in urban ecology and original insights into cultural and political dimensions to the production of urban space. The core hypothesis is that in order to understand the dynamics of urban nature we must link the independent agency of nature with a renewed urban environmental history that takes full account of changing conceptions of human subjectivity, the ideological dimensions to scientific metaphors, and the need to develop new critical engagements with the global South. The emphasis of the research will be on spontaneous forms of urban nature such as wastelands and other spaces that emerge at the intersections between cities and bio-physical processes. These will be studied through a range of innovative methods that researchers at the Urban Laboratory have been developing in previous cross-disciplinary work on urban nature, including film-making, oral history, site surveys and collaborations with artists, underpinned by critical theoretical scholarship.

Further details will be posted on the Urban Laboratory's website in due course.