UDG Event Review

Urban Design Summit at COP26

Sebastian Loew, with assistance from Malcolm Moor and Tim Hagyard

This is a very brief summary of the UDG event organised to coincide with the COP26 meeting in Glasgow. The day’s proceedings were recorded and are available on the UDG website. Throughout the day contributors presented varied approaches and viewpoints on the threats posed by climate change and possible ways to tackle them.

The first session People Friendly Places are Planet Friendly Places saw presentations by finalists of the 2021 Urban Design Awards. This was followed by the launch of the Climate Framework, a new UDG initiative to break down silos, establish common ground, define a common language, and identify the knowledge and skills that built environment professionals must be equipped with. Mina Hasman (Climate Framework Cross-Industry Action Group), Sue Morgan (Landscape Institute) and Robin Nicholson (Cullinan Studio) stressed the need for collaboration and integration between the professions, and for coordinated climate education. Jane Manning (Allies and Morrison) emphasised the role played by urban designers and the UDG.

In the next session entitled Creating Climate Safe Streets, the need to reduce the impact of the car and encourage active movement was a leitmotif. Chris Martin (Urban Movement) showed examples of design initiatives to make people-friendly streets and encourage safe routes for children to walk and cycle to school. Brian Deegan (Urban Movement) suggested solutions inspired by other countries.

The afternoon’s theme was Climate Repair where design examples to tackle sea level rises, extreme heat and poor air quality were presented. Kristina Hill (Institute of Urban and Regional Development, University of California, Berkeley) dealt with urban areas that need to adapt to flooding, including San Francisco’s Bay Area facing rising water levels and seismic risks at the same time. Zongbo Shi (University of Birmingham) addressed street geometry in order to reduce the impact of pollution. He suggested that trees were not always a solution although if well placed, they could serve as a barrier to emissions. Zero emissions must be the goal, road traffic being the largest source of pollution in urban areas. She advocated integrating air quality into design. Maya Negev (University of Haifa) dealt with areas where extreme heat and dryness is a reality now. She presented cooling methods that did not rely on high technology, and examples of good and bad planting that were tolerant of the dry conditions.

Community Sustainable Hubs were the subject of Parisa Wright’s presentation (Greener and Cleaner). A panel discussion followed chaired by Chris Martin. Many more ideas were presented and discussed, too many to include here but worth watching on the UDG website.

Sebastian Loew, freelance consultant and co-editor of Urban Design

URBAN DESIGN 161 Winter 2022 Publication Urban Design Group

As featured in URBAN DESIGN 161 Winter 2022

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Katja Stille  UDG Chair | Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design
Christopher Martin  UDG Treasurer | Co-founder Urban Movement


Rory Olcayto  Pollard Thomas Edwards
Armel Mourgue  Gillespies
Ian Hingley  Urban Movement

Mina Hasman  The Cross-Industry Action Group
Sue Morgan  Chief Executive, Landscape Institute
Robin Nicholson CBE  Fellow, Cullinan Studio
Sui-Te Wu  Lean BIM Strategies | RIBA Client Adviser Steering Group Vice
Jane Manning  Allies + Morrison

Brian Deegan  Urban Movement

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald OBE  Centre for Climate Repair at the University of Cambridge
Dr Kristina Hill  Institute of Urban and Regional Development, University of California, Berkeley 
Prof Zongbo Shi  School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham
Dr Maya Negev  School of Public Health, University of Haifa, Israel

Parisa Wright  Founder of Greener and Cleaner
Camilla Siggaard Andersen  Senior Researcher, HASSELL
Marie Williams  Founder and CEO, Dream Networks
David Milner  Deputy Director, Create Streets