Climate Responsive Urbanism

Thursday 9 January 2020 - 13:30 to 17:30
The Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ

How can professionals met the challenge of urban densification in a time of climate change?

Climate change and the impact on urban climates and air quality is now regarded as a crisis.

Environmental threat Killer heat waves and periods of illegal air quality are becoming ever more commonplace. Evidence on the health impacts of concentrations of air pollution mounts by the week. One third of planning authorities are in breach of their statutory duty to have policies in their local plans to contribute to the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change, and are under threat of legal action.

Urban densification The need to provide housing for an increasing population, with tall buildings, and super dense residential development, raises many issues ranging from pollution-trapping canyon streets, the suppression of the flow of air across a city by ill-advised built form, the need for through-ventilation in flats, and the role of trees and landscape.

An opportunity for professionals There is both a need and an opportunity for professionals in the built environment to work together with researchers to solve the problems, and to provide up-to-date advice to developers and landowners on the design and management of the built environment as an interdisciplinary system, rather than as a set of separate uncoordinated components.

A series of six events during 2020 will address this challenge bringing together leading practitioners and academics, and run by The Edge in partnership with various stakeholders including:

  • ARUP
  • The City of London Corporation
  • The Greater London Authority
  • London Climate Change Partnership
  • Urban Design Group

Climate Responsive Urbanism - opening event

Convenor: Richard Lorch  the EDGE

Host: Robert Huxford Urban Design Group

Chair: Rohinton Emmanuel GCU

14:00 Introduction  Richard Lorch, Buildings & Cities (Editor in Chief)
14:10 Climate Responsive Urbanism - Overview  Professor Gerald Mills, University of Dublin
14:30 Resilience in the Design Process  Asif Din, Perkins and Will
14:45 Urban Climate Adaptation and Mitigation  Professor Marialena Nikolopoulou, University of Kent
15:00 Health and wellbeing  Rachel Toms, Public Health England
15:15 Environmental & Social justice  Nicola Bacon, Social-Life
15:30 Coffee Break
15:45 Discussion of key questions with panel members
16:15 An agenda for research, policy and practice
17:00 Summary
17:10 Networking
17:50 Head to the Pub - The Hope, Smithfield


About the Climate Responsive Urbanism event series

The series explores the consequences of current practices in building, urban design, planning, regulation and policy on critical urban infrastructure.These eventsdiscusshow we can harness the often overlooked interactions of built form (the dimensions of buildings and their placement in relation to each other), urban climate and energy both in its natural expression (temperature/wind/sunshine) and those of building needs (cooling/heating loads), whilst addressing our collective responsibilities in this time of climate emergency to create zero carbon, healthy and resilient cities.

The intent of this series is tointegrate existing knowledge across disciplines, identify gaps in current knowledge and practices, and explore solution pathways for policy and better practice.

The first session provides an overview of what we know and what gaps exist, considers what a positive future could be, and raises an agenda of how we might achieve this. This will be followed by three events that examine in detail some of the consequences of our emerging urban morphology. The fifth event will explore the roles that various forms of governance has in shaping our built environment and what changes are needed. The series ends with a co-production workshop where through the academic/practitioner dynamic we have created we will produce a position paper to disseminate our findings to the wider built environment industry.

In addition, whilst the importance of the urban climate and climate resilience will be threaded through the series, we will be running a daylong masterclass on urban climates where we will demonstrate their mitigating potential as part of the Critical Urban Infrastructure framework*.

Together this series offers a unique opportunity to explore what is needed to generate climate responsive urbanism.The activities go beyond traditional methodologies of disseminating interdisciplinary research. Thiswill be achieved by bringing together some of the UKs leading building and urban scientists, practitioners and policy makersin a focused exchange of ideas around built form climate-driven challenges facing all cities.

*the Critical Urban Infrastructure framework is an overarching approach towards climate responsive urbanism that recognises that the components of urban systems are both highly integrated and interdependent. Whereas the traditional approach to the design, use, and environmental management of our cities focuses on green, blue and grey infrastructure, often in isolation, the critical approach accounts for the interdependencies between built form and function (e.g. the dimensions of individual buildings, their occupation patterns and urban layout), outdoor and indoor climates, energy demands and waste generation, etc. Critical infrastructure also includes the urban commons and the use, preservation and access to our collective shared resources (e.g. daylight, ventilation, air quality, etc), to create comfortable healthy environments and encourage more sustainable urban practices.

Cowcross Street
9 Jan
EFFICIENCY City of London Corporation May 

An additional event MANAGING CLIMATE IN CITIES will be run with Glasgow Caledonian University (at their London Fashion Street campus) early spring 2020.

The Edge is a campaigning built-environment think tank and is multi-disciplinary in a landscape that is remarkable for the high number of single-discipline institutions it contains.