Urban infrastructures make an essential contribution to health, wellbeing and the quality of life. Once the preserve of the developed world, rapid urbanisation is now leading to the creation, extension and transformation of cities and towns, transport networks (roads, air-, rail-, cycle-, and waterways), and other manifestations of the built environment across the globe, often at breath-taking speed. In the context of a world that is subject to continuous change, not least in the sphere of climate change, rapid urbanisation, and socio-economic pressures, the need for critical analysis and reflection as a basis for creativity and innovation is now greater than ever.
The complexity of contemporary urban infrastructure is such that the field of knowledge can no longer be limited to physical considerations – economic, social and environmental factors are of equal importance. For systems of governance, for example, interactions with these broader factors determine our understanding of both the global and local impacts of urban policy, and quality of life. A key focus, therefore, is on ‘soft infrastructures’ and institutional design.
In addition, the intrinsically place-based nature of ‘hard infrastructures’ and the transport patterns they facilitate has become more urgent. Our understanding of context-specific interactions of transport issues like cycling, urban freight and airline traffic with local characteristics is important, as is insight in the values, benefits and efficiencies from their infrastructures and logistics. The focus is on expressing value, cost and benefit, and place-based analysis.
The centre builds on the particular expertise of its researchers in freight and logistics, air, rail and bus transport, cycle movements, infrastructure development, planning and development, housing and urban design, as well as public policy analysis in the UK and abroad. Staff have well established networks in industry and practice and excellent track records in their field.
The centre aims to:
- be at the forefront of theoretical, policy and applied aspects of urban infrastructures
- contribute towards a University-wide strategy for research
- encourage innovation and cross-fertilisation of ideas on wellbeing in cities, and the role of transport, infrastructure and urban planning
- work closely with industry, policy, and other research centres where synergies occur
- promote a strong research culture through dissemination, seminars and the promotion of impact.