4X4

4x4 is a series of ‘TED-talk’ style events exploring the cities and urban places where we are increasingly choosing to build our lives. Held on four consecutive Wednesdays in May each event will feature four diverse and interesting speakers, followed by a lively audience debate.

Climax City

Climax City started life as a mapping project. David Rudlin and Shruti Hemani have spent the last five years collaborating on a series of large scale, some might say obsessive, hand drawn plans of cities across the world. Initially the idea was to produce an atlas of these maps. However as the discussions progressed they became interested in what they were learning from the process of drawing the maps. They are therefore working with RIBA Publishers on the Climax City book to be published early in 2018 supported by the URBED Trust. 

Oxford Futures

The future of Oxford, like a number of other medium-sized historic cities, is bound up with finding ways to fund and build new housing both to attract key staff and tackle inequalities. Oxford formed a test case in the Wolfson submission on Uxcester Garden City, which suggested that the uplift in land values from building close to the city would be enough to fund the local infrastructure for expansion, such as a new tram line and country parks.

SCAD and The URBED Trust Eco-Village

Because the scale and pace of development in Asian countries such as India is so much greater than Western Europe, the way their cities grow is of vital importance to life on the planet. Visits to India, initially as a guest of the British Council, brought home the importance of diverting growth from mega cities such as Mumbai and Chennai, and fostering the planned expansion of medium-sized cities instead. Visits to a group of colleges in the deep South of Tamil Nadu led to Nicholas Falk developing a relationship with a group of colleges called SCAD, which stands for Social Change and Development. Working with some 500 villages and 2,500 womens groups, SCAD is committed to empowering the disempowered, and transferring ideas that work to the Indian context.

Light rail and transit oriented development (APPLRG)

A spin-off from the work has been a series of articles with transport planner Reg Revans to promote the concept of Swift Rail. Influenced by the German Shnellbahnen, this envisages frequent services using light-weight trains to help tackle congestion, which is a major obstacle to sustainable growth in historic towns such as Oxford or Gloucester. Working with the All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group, we helped organise an event at Westminster to promote the Oxford Metro concept, which drew together experience in Nottingham and Cambridge.

Smart New Towns for China

International interest in the fourth, or ‘digital’ industrial revolution has encouraged many cities to look at how they could benefit. Nicholas was approached by the China Design Centre to make a presentation on smart technologies and science based cities. He was greatly helped by research from Manchester School of Architecture and Richard Simmons. This followed his involvement in leading groups from a major Chinese developer around exemplary projects in the UK. Part of the presentation has been turned into a report that can be made available to British cities such as Manchester that are seeking to apply Smart City principles.

A better land assembly model for London (GLA)

The Deputy Mayor for Housing at the Greater London Authority commissioned URBED, and a team including Dentons, Gerald Eve and Housing Futures, to report on lessons from best practice in other countries. The research has been well-received and was launched with London First in May, as Capital Gains: a better land assembly model for London.

Affordable housing models for Shelter

Shelter is looking at the future for social housing, following the Grenfell Tragedy, through a high level Commission. Nicholas was commissioned to provide ten case studies of places in other countries from which lessons could be learned. This short project is drawing on the contacts of Nicky Morrison at the Department of Applied Economics at Cambridge.

Cambridge quality charter and cohesion

URBED have been asked by the Combined Authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to review and update the Quality Charter, with a particular focus on how to promote cohesion or social inclusion.

The URBED Trust is a not for profit company with charitable aims set up to promote research into the future of urban areas, and to disseminate best practice. Registered England & Wales, company number 01826806.

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