Urbanism Research  
                    The Centre for Sustainable Communities
Urbanism Research

Urbanism research and presentations

We undertake a range of urbanism research at the Centre. Among recent relevant projects and publications are the following.

Urbanism in a Rural Context: Is Conviviality the Missing Ingredient?

Dr Parham recently spoke at a rural urbanism symposium in Sweden on the invitation of the Axson Johnson Foundation, on the theme of urbanism in a rural context. Susan argued that urbanism – the study of human settlement – does not stop at city edges but is a something that can be explored in a range of contexts with rural elements – including transforming peri-urban zones, areas of megalopolitan sprawl and wider productive regions. As cities have grown beyond their traditional spatial boundaries a highly functional food-related urbanism has been challenged and undercut all along the food chain from production, through distribution to retailing, consumption and waste. Drawing on her forthcoming book Food and Urbanism (Bloomsbury, 2015) Dr Parham considered both some problematic and more positive connections between food and urbanism at a variety of scales, focusing on how conscious attention to food-centred design and retrofitting can support rural urbanism in future. The symposium essay can be downloaded.

Convivial green space

Dr Parham recently spoke at the 6th Annual Aesop Sustainable Food Planning Conference 'Finding Spaces' held in November 2014, in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Her paper, Convivial Green Space, explored urban design requirements for food-centred productivity, which can reshape and repair urban built form and open space. Results from primary research in the UK into ‘retrofitting for food’ provided urbanism scenarios of urban food growing that are intended to enhance health and well-being, encourage local economic growth and self-sufficiency, enrich social cohesion and community development, and diversify urban greening and resilience. The conference paper can be downloaded.

New Town Heritage – Exploring the boundaries

With history colleague Dr Christine Garwood, the Centre's Dr Susan Parham worked on a New Towns research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through its 'Connected Communities' funding stream. The research was focused on tracing the growth and development of New Towns' arts and cultural heritage from antecedents in the Garden City movement to the'model' new town of Milton Keynes. This was undertaken through a programme of research activities and events co-designed with partners and involving a wider set of participants. The main objective of the research project was to bring together community researchers and academics to develop and share their research on New Town heritage. As part of the research project, Dr Parham ran a 'mini charrette' style engagement workshop in Milton Keynes and the report of the workshop is available to view or download.

Shaping Sustainable Urbanism: Are Garden Cities The Answer?

Dr Parham delivered a conference paper Shaping Sustainable Urbanism: Are Garden Cities The Answer? As part of the international conference Shaping Canberra: the lived experience of place, home and capital at the Humanities Research Centre Conference, held September 2013 at the Australian National University. Dr Parham explored the antecedents of Garden City ideas in 19th century utopian movements, their origin and development through the writings and practical actions of Ebenezer Howard and his colleagues, the extraordinary expansion, diffusion and sometimes distortion of Garden Citiy ideas and developments worldwide before their recent ascendency in political, social and placemaking terms. The paper can be downloaded here.

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