Good evening!

With only a few days until the symposium on ‘Widening the sustainability discourse: from shelter to cities’, here’s a taste of what to expect on the day from the talk titled “Denser and taller urban environments: is it the right path to building sustainably?”…

The project surrounding this talk is a tentative look into the urban cityscape and the trend towards taller built forms and higher urban densities. With ever increasing populations and urbanisation, the masses must be accommodated somewhere! But, is building more compact and higher up the answer? On the other side of the coin is the strain civilisation is putting on the world’s resources and the intense global energy demand. Is any of this considered in the conception, design and construction of urban environments? Operational energy savings are big business, with everyone from industry to academia vying for the most energy efficient light bulb. This venture should not be scoffed at, it is of course important to be as energy efficient and sustainable as possible. However, the sheer focus on this has led to other important areas of impact to go unseen. Embodied energy, and embodied carbon as an extension, accounts for a significant proportion of the whole life carbon share. It is time to start considering the impacts before the fact, as opposed to after, by targeting the design phase.

By using real-life UK and EU case studies, this research utilises a parametric modelling approach to generate a vast array of urban landscape, loosely grouped under four scenarios – dense and tall, dense and low, sparse and tall, sparse and low. The aim is to determine if there is an optimal urban environment in terms of whole life carbon, i.e. the operational and embodied carbon.

Stay tuned for some results of this exciting research!

Visual representations of the four urban scenarios

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