Social housing providers as middle actors in low-carbon innovation

Cauvain2018How do social housing providers contribute to the decarbonisation of the built environment? Jenny Cauvain and I just published a new article in Energy & Buildings that demonstrates how social housing providers serve as ‘middle actors’ between the national government, local authorities, building professionals, and residents. The article is open access until 21 October 2018 from this link.


Projects, Platforms and the Emergence of Modular Urban Development

RGS 2018 papersAt the Royal Geographical Society with IBG Annual International Meeting in Cardiff, James Evans and I co-organised two paper sessions on ‘Projects, Platforms and the Emergence of Modular Urban Development’. Thanks to the presenters for a rich discussion of how projects, experiments, laboratories, testbeds and meanwhile uses are becoming a new mode of urbanisation.

AESOP Annual Congress in Gothenburg


I just returned from Gothenburg where I attended the AESOP Annual Congress 2018. Stefano Cozzolino and I were co-chairs of the Complexities track and organised five sessions with 21 presentations on fuzzy planning approaches, co-evolutionary strategies, and cascading effects and pattern formations. Thanks to all of the session co-chairs and presenters! Also, I presented a paper in the Futures track on ‘Experimentation as the Future Mode of Urban Planning?’.

Smart cities, innovation platforms and social practices in Wageningen

ENP Social Theory

I spent two days visiting with Bas van Vliet and colleagues in the Environmental Policy Group at Wageningen University. We had some very productive and enjoyable discussions about smart cities, sustainable practices, platforms of innovation and related topics. Check out their useful webpage (and see diagram above) that summarises the social theories employed by their researchers. Thanks to Bas for the invitation!

Sercan Yalciner receives PhD in Architecture

Breeam ES

I am very pleased to announce that Sercan Yalciner has completed her doctoral degree in Architecture at the University of Manchester. Dr Yalciner’s conducted a study on ‘Sustainable Architecture and the Influence of Global Assessment Tools’ with a specific focus on BREEAM International. Her work provides insights on how the notion of sustainability is embedded in building codes and how building professionals transfer and apply ideas to different contexts. Congratulations to Dr Yalciner!

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 and by 31 January 2018.