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UCL Urban Laboratory

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You can view the publications of UCL academics associated with the Urban Laboratory here

Activity areas

Our activities currently focus on five key areas: housing and dishousing; ecology and metabolism; change and crisis; imagination and design; and data and place. You can find case studies under each theme below. 

Housing & Dishousing

Housing & Dishousing


We explore diverse kinds of human shelter and settlement, aiming to improve housing for lower income city dwellers, and to understand and contest the evictions that have accompanied many contemporary and historical forms of urbanization. 

Ecology & Metabolism

Ecology & Metabolism


We tackle urgent questions regarding political ecology, urban nature, and public health, re-conceiving relationships between cities, environments, people and infrastructure. 

Change & Crisis

Change & Crisis


We study urbanization and the restructuring of cities from varied perspectives, analysing the effects of cycles of investment and disinvestment, and the mobilization of citizens and built environment professionals in response to instability and critical situations.

Imagination & Design

Imagination & Design


We have a strong focus on urban culture, design and aesthetics, the representation of cities of the past, present, and future – as well as their challenges to representability – and the relations between different urban imaginaries and material conditions.

Data & Place

Data & Place


We study emerging digital technologies interwoven in the city fabric, in order to understand how they are changing everyday urban life, enabling new models of production and consumption, and redefining citizens’ relationships with one another as well as the cities they live in. These activities include work on physical ‘Internet of Things’ devices being embedded in buildings, transports, objects, and the like, as well as new virtual (or online) services, as exemplified by the collaborative economy wave. The digital footprint – data – that these new technologies create afford us the ability to systematically study the impact they have on our daily lives, the way we interact with one another, and with the space we live in.

Cross- and interdisciplinary methods

We build across the full range of urban disciplines, practices and professions at UCL, providing a laboratory for the invention of cross- and interdisciplinary methods, because difficult urban challenges demand new modes of working.

Collaboration and experimentation

In order to address the most challenging urban complexities, knowledge about cities, and methods of urban research, need to be produced collaboratively and publicly, with the participation of citizens as well as those excluded from citizenship.

Internationalisation and comparison

In order to address conditions of globalisation, and challenge epistemological and geographical hierarchies in urban studies, we prioritise the internationalization of urban theory, research and practice, and the development of innovative comparative frameworks.

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