Smarter Urbanisation

Image: Hyderabad, new growth in India

Indian Urban Futures


Working with the Urban Design Group, the trust has organised two symposia in London, and a third in Tamil Nadu. The trust’s main project is testing out the application of garden city or ‘eco neighbourhood’ principles to the growth of medium sized cities through locating new housing where it will have the least environmental impacts and the most social and economic benefits.

The SCAD Eco-House


Working in partnership with SCAD (Social Change and Development) and the Nirman Trust, Nicholas Falk has funded the design and construction of the first of a series of low energy houses. These are intended to be affordable to India’s fast growing middle class. The lessons for sustainability are being shared with a range of colleges, including a project with post graduate engineers at the Centre for Sustainable Development in Cambridge University.

Academy of Urbanism – ‘Here and Now’ 


A series of publications written by Nicholas Falk for the Academy of Urbanism’s Here and Now journal since 2015.

1. Size still matters: how to assess great cities – Spring 2015

In searching for the secrets of successful cities, a good place to start is a new report from OECD, Metropolitan Century, on urbanisation and its consequences, writes Nicholas Falk AoU. The Paris based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has an unparalleled overview of the factors that drive economic success. In a comparative study with the European Union, they have delineated almost 1200 cities across 29 OECD member countries with more than 50,000 inhabitants. Among these are 275 metropolitan areas with more than 500,000 people accounting for half the total population. The metropolitan areas accounted for half of the OECD countries economic growth between 2000 and 2010.

2. Great British Plans: and how to avoid future waste – Spring 2016

Reflecting off Ian Wray’s recent book Great British Plans, Nicholas Falk AoU argues for a rethink in the way that major infrastructure projects are planned and funded in Britain, and puts forward three fundamental principles against which to judge their success.

3. Smarter Urbanisation and valuing local capital – Spring 2017

Following the recent publication of Urbanism, a compendium of the Academy’s Great Places from 2009-2013, Nicholas Falk AoU asks whether quantitative data could be used to support the qualitative assessments of the award judges. Two recent reports, ‘Competing with the Continent’ from the Centre for Cities, and European Union study: ‘The State of European Cities 2016’ may provide some clues.

4. Making it happen – Autumn 2017

The Urbanism Awards provide important inspiration and lots of good ideas for what a great city, neighbourhood or street should look like. But how to get there from here remains largely unresolved and involves tackling social and economic as well as physical issues. So in this review, Dr Nicholas Falk AoU considers a few recent guides, before suggesting what place leadership might involve.

5. Smarter urbanisation and capital values – Summer 2017

In this article Nicholas Falk AoU connects the evolution of ideas on capital and competition, with the digital revolution that is shaping the growth of cities and suggests how we could use multiple criteria to reshape the growth of towns and cities.

6. Resourcing smarter housing growth in the UK – winter 2018

The profusion of reports and recommendations on how to ‘fix’ the UK’s broken housing market, and double housing output makes it hard to see a practical solution. Following up The Academy of Urbanism’s response to the Housing White Paper, which focuses on improving quality, Nicholas Falk AoU illustrates what is possible, given the will.

Better Housing for the 21st Century – A response to the UK government housing white paper – August 2018 

A message to the UK government in response to Fixing our broken housing market, the housing White Paper of 2017

Town and Country Planning 


A five part series of publications written by Nicholas Falk for Town and Country Planning since 2015.

1. Funding large scale new settlements – April 2014 

An alternative way forward for funding the development of large-scale new settlements, drawing on European experience of using state investment banks.

2. Urban policy and new economic powerhouses – August 2015

Developing an urban policy for the 21st century based on agglomeration economies, devolved power, and smarter growth that links development with transport.

3. Achieving smarter growth in London and the South East – August 2016

A look at the challenges facing London’s suburbs, and a suggestion that London could grow better if development efforts were to be concentrated on transport nodes and corridors.

4. Planning for posterity – September 2016

A more strategic approach to planning could better join up infrastructure capacity with new development, improving the lives of future generations.

5. Location, location, location: funding investment in local infrastructure – May 2017

A look at how planning for housing and infrastructure can be linked together to get better value from public investment, by using multi-criteria analysis to assess strategic options and then by sharing the uplift in land values.

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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