UCL Urban Laboratory


Urban Lab Academics Present at Urban Agency III Workshop

16 November 2023

Clare Melhuish and Andrew Harris will represent Urban Laboratory at the next meeting of Urban Agency III, a network of urban studies research centres co-ordinated by the Urban Studies Institute, University of Antwerp.

University of Antwerp

On 30 November and 01 December, Clare Melhuish and Andrew Harris will join the Urban Agency III network in Antwerp for a workshop interrogating the institutional drivers that have contributed to and shaped urban studies research centres in different urban contexts in the UK, mainland Europe and the US. 

Building on the network’s Global Urban Dialogues series (Sept 2021 – May 2023) of interviews between urban studies centres directors, the workshop comprises four discussion sessions and a roundtable: 

  • Navigating the university
  • On the interface between city and academia
  • Collaboration and co-creation in the city
  • Debating the book
  • Debating the urban university in a globalising world.

Clare and Andrew will present the first paper titled ‘Institutional memory in engaged urbanism: revisiting the Centre for Urban Studies at UCL’, which will look at the legacy of sociologist Ruth Glass and the centre for the creation and evolution of UCL Urban Laboratory as a cross-disciplinary urban research centre at UCL today. 

The original centre brought together historians, epidemiologists, geographers, anthropologists, demographers, planners, and health scientists to contribute to ‘systematic knowledge of urban development, structure and society’ during the late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. This institutional memory is often overlooked, and there is little historical record of the centre’s activities and approach.  The paper will argue that urban issues and debates around interdisciplinarity, big data, postcolonial comparisons and broadly constituted forms of engaged and experimental urbanism which shape the work of our present-day Urban Laboratory owe much to the initiative taken by Glass and her colleagues.

Urban Lab will join in dialogue with urbanists from Malmo University and KU Leuven. Subsequent sessions will focus on the role of the university in the city, through its engagement with urban problems and co-production of urban knowledge with a diverse range of urban partners, bringing together perspectives from Barcelona, Milan, Paris, Berlin, Manchester and Antwerp.