Evolving Cities

LSE Cities Research Project
Led by Dr Juliet Davis

Read the report here

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While studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the LSE Cities programme, I worked for LSE Cities as a researcher. I was a part of a small team investigating ‘Evolving Cities’ which explored the relationships between urban form resilience and its governance.

The project examined eight international case study neighbourhoods and interrogated their governance structures, population dynamics, economies and urban form in order to determine how some urban environments are able to weather change, crises, and economic challenges, while others evolve.

I produced a series of urban form analyses for the project that looked at urban change over centuries through particular street sections, and larger sections across city blocks. This was achieved through the study of historical imagery and by using various mapping and photographic techniques. These were supplemented by a mapping of land-use change, economic activity, green space, transport and density.

This brief extract from the publication’s introduction by Juliet Davis explains the project further:

“Our interest in ‘resilience’ emerges from the desire to understand the conditions of both urban form and its management over time that enable localities to persist in attracting and generating use and value and/or to adapt in order to remain viable and productive. In response, our aim is to employ this concept both in exploring and evaluating a number of case studies and to take it forward in theoretical and practical terms. The project involves two principal lines of investigation. First, it seeks to develop a way of conceptualising and evaluating the resilience of urban form, drawing on resilience and related literatures from urban studies and urban design. We argue that the resilience of urban form cannot be apprehended by comparing physical characteristics of built environments alone. It is necessary to devise a broader set of measures that enable the changing social life, economic value, and environmental performance of urban form to be taken into account. Our measures are applied to eight case study neighbourhoods, each of which reflects both inherited and ongoing forms of urban planning, design, building and investment. The case studies encompass a rich array of urban forms – from the terraced urban form of Mayfair to the courtyard blocks of Berlin, and from the tall towers of Hong King to low-rise ‘planned communities’ of Orange County.”