Low-carbon retrofit and social housing


I published a new article in the Journal of Urban Affairs with my colleagues Jenni Cauvain and Saska Petrova on ‘Market-based low-carbon retrofit in social housing: Insights from Greater Manchester’.  We conducted a study of social housing providers in Manchester to provide insights on how they are navigating the decarbonisation agenda in the UK while also dealing with privatisation and austerity measures.

Five tensions of smart-sustainable cities


How does smart urbanisation contribute to goals of sustainability? Chris Martin, James Evans and I published a paper in Technological Forecasting and Social Change on ‘Smart and sustainable? Five tensions in the visions and practices of the smart-sustainable city in Europe and North America’. We argue that smart interventions tend to reinforce neoliberal modes of urban development rather than emphasise environmental protection and social equity.

CFP – Projects, Platforms, and the Emergence of Modular Urban Development

RGS Cardiff

I am co-organising a paper session at the RGS-IBG annual meeting with James Evans on ‘Projects, Platforms, and the Emergence of Modular Urban Development’. See below for a description of the session and instructions for submitting an abstract.

Session Title

‘Projects, Platforms, and the Emergence of Modular Urban Development’

Session Convenors

Andy Karvonen (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden)

James Evans (University of Manchester)


There are increasing expectations that cities can catalyse sustainable urban transformations through experimentation and innovation. Funding agencies and local governments are encouraging urban actors to develop, trial and demonstrate digital, financial, ecological and social ‘solutions’ that are discrete, modular, and replicable. Such products can then be upscaled to the city as a whole or easily transferred and replicated in other locales. This entails a new mode of urbanism that is modular and universal rather than situated and particular, suggesting a new landscape of cities that is inherently piecemeal, patchy, and variegated. In this session, we invite theoretical and empirical papers that explore the emerging modularisation of cities, the influence of projects and platforms in the pursuit of sustainable urban development, and the anticipated and real effects of this agenda.

Topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Different approaches to modularisation (e.g. social, economic, political, ideological, material)
  • Different techniques of modularisation (e.g. best practice, technical solutions, spatial bounding)
  • Comparisons between the rhetoric and practice of modularisation
  • Replication, upscaling and the lexicon of modularisation
  • The practical and ideological tensions between modularisation and sustainability
  • Enabling strategies for modularisation
  • The relationship between market approaches and modularisation
  • The history and present of closed system urban imaginaries (e.g. the capsular city)

Instructions for Authors

Please send proposals (title, 250-word abstract, and author details) to apkar@kth.se and james.z.evans@manchester.ac.uk by 31 January 2018.



New article on the social agenda of Japanese smart cities

 KashiwanohaLocal Environment just published a new article by Greg Trencher and me on ‘ Stretching “smart”: advancing health and well-being through the smart city agenda.’ We provide empirical evidence from the Japanese city of Kashiwanoha where a coalition of actors are addressing social issues through smart urban development. You can download a free copy of the article here.