While new build projects featuring the latest design and technology may receive more attention, a greater challenge may be addressing the legacy of the existing built environment.
In response to this challenge, a new book, Retrofitting Cities for Tomorrow's World (M. Eames, T. Dixon, M. Hunt, S. Lannon eds.) explores the theoretical and practical aspects of the transition towards sustainability in the built environment. It is the culmination of a four-year collaborative research project undertaken by leading UK universities, in partnership with city authorities, prominent architecture firms and major international consultants. The emphasis throughout is on emerging systems innovations and bold new ways of imagining and re-imagining urban retrofitting, set within the context of ‘futures-based’ thinking. The book aims to outline a more coordinated, planned, and strategic approach, to help understand how this can be governed and to lay out a conceptual framework for this process.
Professor Simon Joss and Dr Robert Cowley have contributed a chapter entitled: ‘National policies for local urban sustainability: a new governance approach?’. It explores the important – and sometimes overlooked – role of national policies in shaping local efforts, providing comparative perspectives on four recent national sustainable city programmes from France, India, Japan and the United Kingdom. The analysis reveals two key insights: first, national policy exercises a strong shaping role in what sustainable development for future cities is understood to be. Second, national policy may exercise a ‘soft’ governance function by incentivising and facilitating wider, voluntary governance networks in the effort to implement sustainable city projects locally.