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Manchester Architecture Research Group

Past projects

2014

Community approaches to retrofit in Manchester (ChARisMa)

Project details

Principal investigator: Andy Karvonen
Co-investigator: Saska Petrova
Researcher: Jenni Cauvain
Funding:  University of Manchester Strategic Investment Research Fund, £25,000

Project overview

The Community Approaches to Retrofit in Manchester (ChARisMa) project aims to understand how energy savings and fuel poverty are being addressed through collaborative, community-based programmes, using Greater Manchester as a case study. Our work focuses on five retrofit case studies, and involves stakeholder interviews and site visits.

CHARISMA provides insights into how social housing providers are developing innovative approaches to retrofit that can realise multiple aims of energy and carbon savings, occupant comfort and fuel poverty. Findings from the research are to be shared with practitioners, policymakers, and academics at a workshop in summer 2014. The findings should also be of relevance to community organisations, social housing providers, local authorities, design professionals, installers, and other stakeholders who are interested in the fostering new cultures of domestic energy consumption.

Key publications

  • Andrew Karvonen. "Towards systemic domestic retrofit: a social practices approach." Building Research and Information 41, no. 5(2013) : 563-574.

Further information

2013

Responses to challenges facing poor urban people in a era of global warming in Bangladesh

Project details

Full title: Community and institutional responses to the challenges facing poor urban people in an era of global warming in Bangladesh
Principal investigator:  David Hulme 
Co-investigators:  Ferdous Jahan (BRAC University), Manoj Roy, Simon Guy (MARG)
Funding:  £500,000, ESRC Area & Development Studies and Environmental Planning
Duration: September 2010 to August 2013

Project overview

Climate change, and especially climate variability, is impacting on the living conditions and livelihoods of poor people. These effects will deepen over coming decades. Increased exposure to minor shocks and major disasters can dramatically increase poor urban people’s vulnerability and damage their economic and social prospects - dwellings are damaged/destroyed, casual labour is laid off, fuel prices rise, water supplies become contaminated, children get sick ... a downward spiral may result. Yet most governments in developing countries see climate change purely as a rural problem with impacts on agriculture and food security.

Nowhere in the world are these problems more evident than in Bangladesh. Its urban population already exceeds 40 million and is growing at 3.4% per annum. With 20 million people potentially displaced by rising sea levels in coming years, the urbanisation rate seems likely to increase. Urban poverty is already high (estimates vary from 47% to 70%) and in the bustees (i.e. “slums”) living conditions are deteriorating. But, like most other governments, the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) maintains a rural focus, as none of the 20 “priority actions” in its Climate Change Strategies and Action Plan 2008 targets the problems faced by the urban poor.

This research, which has been designed after a pilot programme funded by GDI’s “seed corn” research fund, seeks to fill this important research gap in policy-relevant knowledge by exploring how to effectively address the problems of poor urban people, in a context of rapid climate change. It adopts a cross-disciplinary perspective, and brings together a team of leading Bangladeshi and UK researchers and policy activist.

The analytical framework draws on three main bodies of theory. Firstly, we apply political economy of urban change to examine the entitlements of different groups, and especially the poor and vulnerable, to call on resources and negotiate changes in resources access and use. Secondly, our framework explores changes in the assets (material, financial, human, natural and social) of poor urban people. Thirdly, we examine the adaptive practices of poor people and of the institutions with which they interact to understand the individual and societal learning processes that can help, or perhaps hinder, the poor’s efforts to reduce vulnerability and improve their prospects. The research will produce rigorous academic findings that are of international standing and high impact policy recommendations for agencies in Bangladesh and beyond (e.g. DFID and World Bank). 

Further information

Conditioning demand: Older people, diversity and thermal experience

Project details

Principal investigator:  Simon Guy (MARG)
Co-investigator:  Ralf Brand, Patrick Devine-Wright (University of Exeter), Chris Tweed (Cardiff University), Gordon Walker (Lancaster University)
Researcher: Catherine Grandclement (EDF), Graeme Sherriff (MARG)
Funding:  £794,000, EPSRC/EDF Energy Programme (People, Energy and Buildings)
Duration: January 2011 to July 2013

Project overview

The goal of this project is to understand the diversity and dynamics of thermal experiences in an ageing society and the implications for current and future energy consumption. The project team is investigating the issue of energy consumption as a socio-technical phenomenon by unpacking the social and material dimensions of energy and carbon challenges related to 'thermal experience' in domestic settings in the UK and France. The empirical research follows two key forms of future change: the demographic trend of an ageing society and the development of energy-efficient technologies. Our aim is not only to understand the implications of these two key dimensions of social and technological change, but also to detect potential synergies, gaps, and mismatches between them as they relate to residential thermal experience.

The project team is interviewing older residents across a range of domestic living situations and socio-economic categories to understand the diversity of thermal experiences within this population group. The researchers are also collecting data about the spatial and material aspects of the thermal experience in interviewees' houses. A particular focus of the study is the uptake of energy-efficient technologies that alter thermal experience, including heat pumps, solar hot water, and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery. The researchers will also interview actors who are engaged in the promulgation of the energy-efficient technologies, including energy modellers, technology designers, installers, and building maintenance and operations personnel.

The empirical data will be systematically analysed by the project team using qualitative data analysis software and the findings will be disseminated on the project website, through academic and trade journals, and at various conferences. The outcomes of the project will be relevant to a diverse array of disciplinary communities, including scholars of sociology, architecture, urban planning, engineering, science and technology studies, geography, and environmental psychology. The researchers will also reach out to non-academic stakeholders including NGOs, community organisations, and the general public to elucidate the multiple factors that shape thermal experience. Finally, the project will build research capacity in the study of people, energy, and buildings by training four post-doctoral researchers as well as an interlinked cohort of doctoral students and EDF's research and development group.

Further information

Daylighting in older people's housing

Project details

Principal investigator:  Alan Lewis (MARG)
Funding: £33,200 Thomas Pocklington Trust
Duration:  January 2013 to October 2013
Project partner: Housing LIN (Learning and Improvement Network)
Email: Alan Lewis

Project overview

Previous research has demonstrated the benefits of good daylighting in the homes of people with sight loss, particularly in aiding detailed visual tasks. Daylight also has health benefits, particularly in helping the body to regulate sleep patterns and reduce the symptoms of depression. Despite these benefits, an evaluation of 23 extra-care housing schemes, undertaken as part of the EPSRC-funded research project EVOLVE (Evaluation of Older People’s Living Environments), revealed that only half complied with the current recommendations on minimum daylight factors in lounges and bedrooms. This is surprising given the prevalence of sight loss amongst older people, and given that extra-care housing is intended primarily for older people.

The aim of this study is to identify barriers to compliance with current guidance on daylighting, and to identify approaches to design that allow these barriers to be circumvented. The study will draw on existing data from the EVOLVE project, and on interviews with people involved in developing, designing and managing extra-care housing schemes, particularly those housing schemes in the EVOLVE sample.

Further details

Multi Faith Spaces as symptoms and agents of religious and social change

Project details

Principal investigator:  Ralf Brand
Co-investigator:  Andrew Crompton (University of Liverpool)
Researcher: Chris Hewson
Funding:  £464,185, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Religion and Society Programme
Duration: November 2009 to April 2013
Email: mfs@manchester.ac.uk

Project overview

Organisations are increasingly attempting to accommodate religious diversity via the provision of multi-faith spaces (MFS). Some are small and mono-functional (located in airports, universities, hospitals, shopping malls, etc); others take the form of dedicated buildings or complexes, where different religions inhabit and utilise their own sacred space(s), whilst sharing collective ‘secular’ facilities. Here individuals can, notionally, come together to pray, relax, learn, discuss … even shop or play.

Within these spaces a tentative rapprochement between belief systems might occur, and as a consequence MFS have received overt political endorsement, with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) noting the importance of ‘shared spaces for interaction’. However, despite the hope that they may help shape a more integrated, inclusive and tolerant society, MFS have so far received little attention as works of architecture, or spaces that shape, and are shaped by, ongoing socio-religious discourses.

This project aims to better understand the genesis of such spaces (as an academic concern) and to assist in their further development (as a practical intention). Accordingly, project outputs will include peer-reviewed journal papers and conference dissemination, alongside a professionally curated travelling exhibition, and a best practice compendium. The aim is to engage policy practitioners, academics, stakeholders and the general public, in an ongoing dialogue around the continued expansion of multi-faith facilities.

Further information

Zero-carbon habitation

Project details

Principal Investigators: Simon Guy (MARG), Gordon Walker (Lancaster University)
Co-Investigator: Ralf Brand
Researcher: Andrew Karvonen
Funding: ESRC/DEFRA £1,513,519
Project duration: January 2011 to July 2013

Project overview

Zero-carbon homes have become an icon of policy ambitions, with the 2016 target for new homes the subject of much debate as to exactly how it should and can be achieved and the adequacy of accompanying policy and regulatory measures. Achieving zero carbon homes is not just a matter of built design but also of how these homes are lived in. This project will examine the assumptions and expectations about behaviours and practices that are embedded within the building concepts and designs that are being developed to fulfil zero-carbon criteria. What types of users, routines and habits are being assumed, are these homogeneous or diverse? What changes from any notional standard, common, or normal sets of practices are being built in, what is assumed to be non-negotiable and necessary for homes to be viable and desirable in market terms? How do practices shift when zero-carbon homes are inhabited and how might these change over time? To what extent are identical homes inhabited in different ways and with what implications for their sustainability in action? What can we learn about different national contexts of zero-carbon living? How do debates and practices compare and contrast between the UK and Germany, where zero-carbon living has been the subject of early innovation through initiatives such as passive-haus? The study will involve document analysis, case studies, key informant interviews and observation to understand of the effectiveness of infrastructural interventions and the ways in which habits change in a domestic context.

This project is one of seven being undertaken in the Sustainable Practices Group which is funded by a £1.5 million research grant from EPSRC/DEFRA. The essence of the programme of work is to enhance the social scientific understanding of habitual behaviour in areas of everyday consumption with consequences for sustainability. We recognise that sustainability is a complex and multi-dimensional concept, including issues of justice and welfare, but we focus particularly on environmental sustainability and the challenge of climate change. The group will provide a multi-level analysis of three environmentally-sensitive practices – eating, water-use and sheltering – and will include a series of action research interventions with stakeholder organizations in the vein of ‘interactive social science’. The group will engage closely with key stakeholders in the design and dissemination of the research.

Further information 

Studio for social materiality

Project details

Principal investigator: Leandro Minuchin
Funding:  The University of Manchester

Project overview

The project sought to investigate and register techno-popular knowledges in urban peripheries in Latin America. Focusing on how collectives rely on networks of solidarity and association to transform their physical environment, the research catalogued everyday construction practices and the process of technical knowledge dissemination in different settlements.

The project established links with social movement GIROS in Rosario and served to inform the curriculum of an MArch atelier and a paired course in the Faculty of Political Science in Rosario.

2012

Materials, Methods and the City

Project details

Principal investigator:  Leandro Minuchin
Funding:  methods@manchester

Project overview

The project sought to develop an innovative theory and methods course for MArch students, focusing on new research agendas and methodological tactics emerging after the material turn in social sciences. The course is structured around key conceptual vehicles and the possible data gathering techniques that might be employed to mobilise each theoretical position.

The syllabus illustrates the use and adaptation of the examined conceptual frameworks through a series of architectural examples and productions. As part of this project, an International workshop on methods for urban interventions was organized in Manchester.

2011

Challenging Lock-in through Urban Energy Systems (CLUES)

Project details

Principal investigator: Yvonne Rydin (UCL)
Co-investigators: Chris Goodier (Loughborough University), Lester Hunt (University of Surrey), Simon Guy (MARC), Jim Watson (University of Sussex), Patrick Devine-Wright (University of Exeter)
Funding: £971,000, EPSRC Programme - Towards a Sustainable Urban Environment: Integration Across Scales
Duration: Oct 2010 to Sep 2012

Project overview

Challenging the lock-in of the current centralised UK energy system is essential to delivering the deep carbon cuts required over the period to 2050 to moderate climate change. Decentralised energy initiatives are currently being promoted, increasingly within the urban locations where the majority of the population and economic activity is located. Such decentralisation of energy infrastructure and associated decarbonisation initiatives would considerably change the nature of urban environments to 2050. But, to date, the research emphasis has been on identifying and transferring best practice from project to project without consideration of the limits to decentralisation, the implications for interconnected energy systems and the overall impact on urban areas. There is an urgent need to understand the implications of these decentralisation initiatives from the point of view of energy systems at different scales - urban, regional and national - and in terms of the overall sustainability of future change within urban areas. This involves considering how far such decentralisation could be pursued and what the carbon and other impacts would be. 

This project takes a much-needed critical look at the scope for challenging lock-in through urban energy initiatives. Such energy initiatives are understood to include a combination of decentralised technologies for energy generation with strategies for energy and carbon reduction operating at different scales within urban areas. It will examine the range and types of urban energy systems that could be put in place from an international review and it will consider the issues raised by the need for such initiatives within the UK to integrate with energy systems at urban, regional and national scales in order to deliver energy and carbon reductions effectively. This will be explored through UK implementation studies and examination of innovative initiatives as yet untried in the UK context. The context will be scenario development to 2050 based on existing Foresight scenarios on energy management and the built environment. The project will then undertake a scaling-up exercise to consider the potential contribution to national carbon reduction of aggregating up individual urban energy initiatives. This will involve analysis of the extent to which such initiatives could be rolled out across the country and their carbon impact, given different mixes of energy technologies and carbon reduction strategies. The scaling up exercise will also consider the implications for future urban change using the developed 2050 scenarios. The result will be a critical assessment of future change in urban areas as a result of energy decentralisation and, therefore, the potential contribution of energy initiatives within urban areas to carbon reductions at a national scale and urban sustainability to 2050.

Further information

Climate science in urban design: A historical and comparative study of applied urban climatology

Project details

Principal investigators: Michael Hebbert and Vladimir Jankovic
Researcher: Brian Webb
Funding: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), £343,115
Duration: 2010 to 2011
Email: Michael Hebbert

Project overview

Climate Science and Urban Design is a historical and comparative study of applied urban climatology. The time frame is from 1950 to the present. The comparative framework includes the seminal work of German and Japanese urban climatologists, as well as the more recent climate policy initiatives of New York City and the City of Manchester.

Our focus is on the small-scale climatic impacts of a city’s physical form and functions. The design of buildings and spaces directly affects urban temperature, wind, rain and air quality - which in turn influence human comfort and health. These relations are systematically studied by urban climatologists, whose discipline has immediate relevance for urban design.

The connections between design and microclimate were historically recognised in Chinese feng shui and the European tradition of Vitruvian design. However, contemporary urbanism has paid comparatively little attention to these factors, despite the efforts of climatologists to establish the relevance of their discipline for physical planning - for example through technical publications of the World Meteorological Organisation.

The first aim of the research is to examine the interaction between climatology and urban design since 1950, and explain its limitations  The second aim is to examine the role of urban climate knowledge in contemporary urban design. As cities try to reduce their carbon burden and adapt to new weather risks, are they becoming better informed about their own heat islands? Do they procure reliable climate knowledge? Are they able to translate such knowledge into city plans and urban design?

Outputs and resources

Further information

EcoCities: The Bruntwood Initiative for sustainable cities at The University of Manchester

Project details

Principal investigator:  Simon Guy, John Handley
Researchers: Jeremy Carter, Aleksandra Kazmierczak, Gina Cavan
Partners:  Manchester Architecture Research Centre (MARC), Centre for Urban Resilience and Energy, Global Development Institute (GDI)

Project overview

The project focuses on the response of urban areas to the impacts of climate change, looking particularly at how we can adapt our cities to the challenges and opportunities that a changing climate presents. EcoCities provided Manchester with a dedicated climate change adaptation resource. This is based on leading scientific research, extensive stakeholder engagement, and best practice examples.

Climate change is now accepted as a major global challenge that is with us and is set to intensify. There is strong scientific evidence to suggest that our changing climate is the result of human behaviour, in particular our carbon dioxide emissions. It is clear that aside from the need to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases to limit the extent of future climate change, we must look at how we can respond to projected climate change impacts to ensure that our towns and cities remain ‘liveable’. Cities have a crucial role to play in a future where climate change becomes part of everyday life. For the first time in history, over half the world’s population now lives in urban areas. As centres of population and commerce, cities are responsible for large volumes of greenhouse gas emissions. As societies look to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, the way that people travel, live and work in cities is likely to evolve. Also, cities and their residents are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change including flooding and heat waves. We will need to develop ways to respond and adapt to these impacts and build an environmentally sustainable future.

Further information

Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns (GRaBS)

Project details

Principal Investigator: Dr. Jeremy Carter
Researchers: Prof. Simon Guy, John Handley, Richard Kingston, Dr. Sarah Lindley, Yi Gong, Aleksandra Kazmierczak and Gina Cavan
Funding: 3.3 million Euros, INTERREG IVC – Priority 2: Environment and Risk Prevention (sub-theme: Natural and Technological Risks)
Duration: 2008-2011
Email: Jeremy Carter

Project overview

The Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns (GRaBS) project aims to improve the regional decision and policy making process in relation to the planning and development of new and existing urban areas in eight EU member states in the context of climate change. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are now at their highest for 3 million years and as a result urban areas are vulnerable to impacts including increased temperatures and flooding. Regional spatial planning and urban design can provide solutions to reduce vulnerability and risk. Green infrastructure including gardens, parks, productive landscapes, green corridors and green roofs and walls and blue infrastructure such as water bodies, rivers, streams, floodplains and sustainable drainage systems, play a vital role in creating climate resilient development, a role, which is currently not sufficiently recognised and utilised and lacks integration in main stream planning.

The project involves 14 partners drawn from eight member states representing a broad spectrum of authorities, climate change challenges and with varying degrees of related strategic policy and experience. The project facilitates the much needed exchange of knowledge and experience and the actual transfer of good practice on climate change adaptation strategies to local and regional authorities. In addition a climate change vulnerability and risk assessment tool will be produced through this interregional collaboration. Through stakeholder and community engagement, as well as the development of regional policy networks, partners will produce High Level Policy Statements and Climate Change Adaptation Action Plans to ensure climate resilient future development in their regions. In this process, partners will take part in thematic seminars, study visits, and a mentoring programme as well as apply the climate assessment tool in their own locality.

A key outcome of GRaBS will be a user-friendly and easily transferable and replicable strategic planning methodology together with a vulnerability and risk assessment tool available to all European regional and local municipalities. The project will also deliver a database of good practice green and blue space adaptation approaches and Expert Papers for dissemination throughout Europe. By advancing the knowledge and expertise of partner staff, decisions makers, politicians and communities, regional and local municipalities will be able to make a more informed and strategic response in the context of climate change adaptation. In the long term, communities will reduce their vulnerability to the environmental, social and economic damage related to climate change impacts including extreme temperature increases and flooding incidents.

GRaBS is an EcoCities associated project.

Further information

HAMMAMED - Raising awareness for the hammam as a cultural heritage for the Mediterranean area and beyond

Project details

Principal investigator: Dr Magda Sibley (in the United Kingdom)
Partners: Oikodrom - The Vienna Institute for Urban Sustainability- Vienna, Austria (project co-ordinator); IFPO - Institut Francais du Proche Orient. Damascus, Syria; ADER-Fès - Agence pour la Dédensification et la Réhabilitation de la Medina de Fez, Fez, Morocco
Budget: 17 million Euros
Duration: 2008-2011

Project overview

With a budget of 17 million Euros allocated through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), Euromed Heritage puts appropriation by the local populations of their cultural heritage at the core of its actions. As one of the 12 Euromed Heritage 4 projects, Hammamed aims to facilitate the (re)appropriation of the hammam and its associated culture by the local population. The project  also aims to strengthen and consolidate the mutual understanding between cultures in the Mediterranean region by increasing public awareness of the hammam as a shared tangible and intangible heritage.   The project builds on the experience and research conducted by the same multi-disciplinary team between 2006-9 as part of the EU FP6 funded project HAMMAM.  Two hammam case studies (Ammuna  and Saffarine) located within two World Heritage cities (Damascus in Syria and Fez in Morocco) are being used as the focus for action.

The specific aims of the Hammamed project are:

  • raise the awareness of the hammam as a cultural heritage in its tangible and intangible aspects within the local neighbourhoods and in particular within the younger generation
  • develop multi-disciplinary cooperation for research and good practices in the rehabilitation of hammam buildings
  • training and networking to empower the local population and other hammam stakeholders
  • actions to stimulate and reinforce social and economic impacts
  • agency of local groups in the valorisation and appropriation of their heritage
  • increase public accessibility to the hammams at the two selected heritage sites
  • use the case studies as examples of good practice that can be applied to other hammams in the Mediterranean region
  • promote the lessons of sustainability embedded within this heritage building and facilitate its function as a  sustainability catalyst for the rehabilitation of the surrounding neighbourhoods.

The results of the work will be disseminated using various media – local radio and TV programmes, booklets, travelling exhibition, public lectures, best practice manual, eco labelling, journal papers, and one major international conference.

Further information

Liverpool’s lost railway heritage

Project details

Principal investigators: Angela Connelly and Michael Hebbert.

Project overview

This discussion paper is the result of a short research project undertaken by MARC in February 2011. Liverpool’s lost railway heritage had come up in one of our regular trawls amongst local governments and agencies in North West England for live topics suitable for project work or dissertations. John Hinchliffe, World Heritage Officer of Liverpool City Council, spoke of neglected pre-1850 railway heritage, some of it still unlisted, including tunnels that lead up from the north and south docks to Edge Hill on the escarpment behind the city centre. He asked if we could provide a description and assessment of this extraordinary heritage, and a summary of the views of the principal stakeholders.
 
The topic was fascinating but beyond the scope of a student project or dissertation. Happily, an experienced MARC researcher had a month on her hands between submitting her PhD thesis and undergoing her oral examination. Angela Connelly’s PhD, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in collaboration with the Methodist Church, is a study of the design and use of Methodist Central Halls, involving archival work, interviews, and architectural documentation in six cities - including Liverpool. So Dr Connelly (as she now is) was well positioned to undertake the study.
 
This mini-research project has been completed by the University of Manchester for Liverpool City Council on a pro bono basis. We hope that it will contribute to the recognition, conservation and ultimate re-use of this heritage from the earliest railway era.

Further information

Construction and politics: Urban imaginaries in Argentina

Project details

Principal investigator:  Leandro Minchin
Co-investigator:  James Scorer
Funding:  cities@manchester

Project overview

This project sought to examine the relation between construction and urban politics. Focusing on different cases in Argentina, the research explored the way processes of materialization and material projections were instrumental in the shaping of novel urban political identities. Social Movements and urban regeneration cases were selected in Rosario and Buenos Aires. A workshop on Political textures of the city was organized in Manchester. 

2010

Methodist central halls (research studentship)

Project information

Researcher: Angela Connelly
Supervisors: Michael Hebbert and Andrew Crompton
Funding: AHRC/ESRC

Project overview

Central Halls are the most prominent monuments of urban non-conformity, and in terms of architectural history they represent a unique building of  social and cultural significance. These buildings have never been studied in-depth. In 2007, The University of Manchester and the Methodist Church Property Office received funding under the AHRC/ESRC ‘Religion and Society Programme’ for a Research Studentship. The research student is Miss Angela Connelly and the project is jointly supervised by Professor Michael Hebbert and Dr Andrew Crompton. 

Between 2008 and 2009, research on Methodist Central Halls resulted in a national narrative which tabulated their numbers and analysed their plans as social documents. The Central Halls were presented as a unique building type and the resulting PhD thesis was submitted in December 2010 and will be examined in March 2011.

The historic islamic baths of North Africa and their survival into the 21st Century

Project details

Principal investigator: Magda Sibley
Research associate: Fodil Fadli
Funding: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Duration: 2006-2010

Project overview

Public baths, or hammāms (commonly know as Turkish baths) are key facilities in Islamic cities as they form part of the triad of essential urban facilities - the mosque, the hammām and the suq. They not only support hygiene for the urban dwellers but they also facilitate the accomplishment of the great ablutions prior to the act of praying (hence their location near mosques). They also have an important social function as they serve as a meeting place for both male and female society and support a rich intangible heritage associated with major life events such as weddings, births and religious ceremonies.

The aim of this research is to document and analyse the few surviving hammāms (dating from the 11th to the 19th century) that are currently operating, closed or changed function in five North African World Heritage Cities: Cairo (Egypt), Tripoli (Libya), Tunis (Tunisia), Algiers (Algeria) and Marrakech (Morocco). This selection provides the opportunity to develop an understanding of the development of this building type from the 11th to the 19th century across a wide and continuous geographical area.

This research does not deal with archaeological sites but rather with historic hammāms that have survived into the 21st century and are still evident and used in the urban fabric of the selected five cities. The following research questions are addressed:

  1. How many hammāms were there originally in these cities according to historical records and how many can be located today?
  2. What is their importance and location within the urban fabric and what is their current state?
  3. What are the geographical and historical variations in their architectural and urban characteristics from Cairo in the East to Marrakech in the West and from the 11th to the 19th century, and how can these variations be explained?
  4. What local social practices, customs and traditions are associated with the hammām and how many of these are still practiced today?
  5. What are the current practices of conservation, rehabilitation and/or adaptive re-use of these structures that can be identified across North Africa?
  6. What future scenarios can be identified (in collaboration with local and international stakeholders) for the sustainable conservation and adaptive re-use of this important cultural heritage building?

Further information

The urban environment: Mirror and mediator of radicalisation

Project details

Principal investigator: Ralf Brand
Co-investigator: Jon Coaffee
Senior researcher: Sara Fregonese
Funding: £208,000, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, RES-181-25-0028

Project overview

This research project is inspired by the assumption that radicalisation is not an a-spatial or a-material phenomenon. It takes place in streets, apartments, shops or parks and it is materially reflected in fences, buildings, territorial markers etc. But walls, bridges, buildings etc. also exert a gravitational pull on people's perception and behaviour, for example the decision which playground to prefer, where to hide in the event of trouble and the likeliness of meeting 'others'. In short, social conditions and urban environments shape each other.

It seems plausible that such processes are similar, but not identical, in cities with "earlier" and "new" patterns of radicalisation. A systematic assessment of this assumption would help a wide range of actors – who will be proactively involved in the research process – to create cities that facilitate amicable encounters between different groups, thereby tackling some of the many conditions of stereotypisation and radicalisation.

We therefore aim to map existing knowledge in various disciplines about these dynamics and we investigate the ground-level situation in four cities: Belfast and Beirut as examples of "earlier" patterns of contestation and Berlin and Amsterdam as examples of "new" patterns of radicalisation in the form of Neo-Nazi mobilisation and extremist tendencies among Muslim youths, respectively.

Further information

2009

Beyond Nimbyism: a multidisciplinary investigation of public engagement with renewable energy technologies

Project information

Principal investigator: Patrick Devine-Wright
Co-investigators: Hannah Devine-Wright, Gordon Walker, Julie Barnett, Kate Burningham, Bob Evans, David Infield and Andrew Wheatley
Funding: Research Councils Energy Programme, and managed by the Economic and Social Research Council

Project overview

The overarching conceptual aim of the project is to provide an integrated framework for understanding public engagement with diverse renewable energy technologies (RET) that encompasses technical and social science aspects; and to then use this framework to suggest how a constructive dialogue can be better facilitated between publics and other stakeholders about RET, in order to manage uncertainty in development and to inform the achievement of government targets.

Our work programme comprises five work packages (literature review, analysis of how publics are constructed by diverse stakeholders, construction of a provisional framework,
validating the framework in a series of case studies, and refining the framework) and involves a project advisory panel and practitioner workshops to ensure that perspectives from non-academic stakeholders are also reflected in the research programme. 

Our interdisciplinary research team encompasses researchers in psychology, geography, sociology, and planning and engineering, and is a collaboration of five universities: The University of Manchester, Lancaster University, Loughborough University, Northumbria University, and University of Surrey.

Further information

Carbon Reduction in Buildings (CaRB)

Project information

Principal investigator: Simon Guy

Senior researcher: Tracey Crosbie

Researchers: Christopher Hewson and Dana Abi Ghanem

Funding: Carbon Trust and EPSRC through the Carbon Vision Initiative. Additional support from EPSRC (GR/S94377/01) and NERC

Duration: October 2004 - March 2009

Project overview

Background: Reducing carbon emissions from buildings requires an understanding of both the technical and social dimensions of energy use. To this end, the CaRB socio-technical study is examining the social and cultural influences on energy use and is exploring opportunities for socio-technical interventions – interventions that look at how people use technologies in practice, how these practices are affected by the design of the technologies, and how they affect energy use.

This socio-technical study forms part of the EPSRC Carbon Reduction in Buildings (CaRB) programme, led by the University of Manchester. CaRB’s vision is to create an innovative, public domain, socio-technical model of energy use in buildings applicable at national, regional, city and community level.

Further information

Energy travel and sustainable buildings: A case study of Bruntwood City Tower

Project details

Principal investigator: Simon Guy
Researchers: Christopher Hewson, Dana Abi Ghanem and Tracey Crosie
Funding: EU FP7 Grant (Science in Society)

Project overview

The City Tower project assessed how the sustainability of an existing commercial building can be increased. Using Bruntwood City Tower as a case study this project focused on operational energy efficiency and transport choices.

The City Tower is an EcoCities related project.

The project focused on two key facts:

  • That office and retail buildings are the most energy intensive of all non-domestic buildings, and they represent a significant opportunity to reduce energy consumption within both the public and commercial realm
  • That those who work within office and retail buildings must travel to work, and transport is a major source of ‘greenhouse’ (CO2) emissions, as well as a major factor in localised environmental disruptions such as congestion, noise pollution and poor air quality

This project recognised that a range of place specific solutions should be considered, with policy responses formed through an understanding of the tangible practices of energy consumption and work related travel, alongside the arrangements and decisions that organise these practices. In turn, this allows us to suggest that travel practices should assessed in tandem with other ‘energy consuming practices’ within commercial buildings.

Utilising a case study approach of organisations based within the City Tower, the research presented explores three ‘spheres of practice: the practice(s) of building design; the practice of ongoing building operation and maintenance; the everyday working (and travel) practices of those occupying the building in question. The City Tower project aimed to provide ‘sustainability focused’ recommendations in three key areas: building redevelopment and operation; energy consuming practices within City Tower; travel practices undertaken by the building's occupants.

The aims and objectives of the City Tower were to:

  • provide an introduction to the practical and theoretical scope of the research
  • consider the history of the City Tower, and how this has shaped the context within which our respondents operated
  • provide an analysis of energy management and sustainable redevelopment with the City Tower
  • assess energy and everyday working practices, particularly how energy consuming practices (ECPs) are comprised of specific configurations of behaviours, technologies and structures
  • examine the travel choices and patterns evidenced at the City Tower, considering how sustainable travel policies might emerge as a result of both structural and behavioural policy actions

Further information

Integrating the Senses Inside Supermarkets (ISIS)

Project details

Principal investigator:  Simon Guy
Researcher: Christopher Hewson
Funding:  Tesco (Sustainable Consumption Institute)
Duration: 1 April 2009 - 30 November 2009

Project overview

The project is part of the multi‐disciplinary Sustainable Consumption Institute at the University of Manchester, under the theme ‘Planning a Greener Future for Retail’. It complements the recently completed Supermarket Adaptation to Future Environments (SAFE) project, which considered route maps towards the ‘greening’ of supermarkets, alongside their ability to both adapt to climate change, as well as positively impact upon the sustainability of their localities.

Further information

Mapping Controversies on Science for Politics (MACOSPOL)

Project details

Principal investigator: Albena Yaneva
Co-investigators:  Simon Guy, Nick Dunn 
Researcher: Liam Heaphy
Funding: EU FP7 Grant (Science in Society): Project number 217701
Email: Albena Yaneva 

Project overview

MACOSPOL is a joint enterprise of researchers in science, technology and society located throughout Europe aiming to bring together their various expertise to devise a collaborative tool (a platform) to map out science and technology controversies. The aim is to provide European citizens wishing to involve themselves in technological and scientific issues with tools similar to those devised for generating opinions in normal political matters.

The digital world facilitates exchange of methods and expertise and this is what we wish to take advantage of by bringing the MACOSPOL consortium together. This consortium will create a link between the best research in Science, Technology and Society and the most advanced research on web-based tools. Once the platform is operational, it will be tested on current pressing controversies to see if it can allow European citizens to come to better judgment about those issues.

The MACOSPOL consortium consists of a network of European universities and institutes: University of Manchester; Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, France; University of Oslo, Norway; Observa, Vicenza, Italy; University of Munich, Germany; Université de Liège, Belgium; École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Further information

Sustainable Energy and Thermal Services (SETS)

Project details

Principal investigator: Simon Guy
Researchers: Christopher Hewson and Dana Abi Ghanem
Funding: Carbon Trust and EPSRC through the Carbon Vision Initiative
Duration: January 2009 to March 2009

Project overview

As the UK property industry becomes increasingly attuned to the issue of ecological sustainability, the need arises to assess specific components of the eco-design / refurbishment process. SETS examines a key component of Bruntwood’s building service offering, Heating Ventilation and Air-Conditioning (HVAC), focusing on the design, installation and maintenance of HVAC systems within two of Bruntwood’s managed office spaces – Portland Tower & No. 1 Portland Street. Alongside this investigation, SETS also examines a range of more general issues around the links between sustainability and commercial viability.

Further information

2008

Rethinking the Urban Experience: The sensory production of place

Project information

Lead researcher: Simon Guy
Research partner: Mags Adams, University of Salford
Funding: Economic and Social Research Council

Project overview

The study of ‘SenseScapes’ is a newly emerging interdisciplinary field focussing on sensorial studies of human interaction with physical environments. Challenging an ocular-centricism that arguably underpins much scholarship in the arts, humanities and social sciences, a new multi-sensory research agenda is being critically developed. The concept of ‘sensescapes’ incorporates the full range of sensory experience in the broadest range of disciplines as sensual experience is mediated through hearing, smell, touch, taste, as well as sight. Including the visual, the auditory, the olfactory, the gustatory and the haptic, the concept of sensescapes enables an interrogation of everyday life that incorporates the meeting of mind, body and environment.

The aims of this seminar series are, therefore, to open up spaces for interdisciplinary research and collaboration, to bring together a core group of researchers and to enable the identification of others working in this field, in order to share ideas, improve knowledge, develop theory, contribute to the development of policy and stimulate the development of a ‘sensory urbanism’ agenda in the UK. This seminar series will build upon this demonstrated momentum in the UK academic community, will enable us to develop and mature this burgeoning network and will give context and perspective to meetings.

2007

Supergen Future Network Technologies

Project information

The Future Network Technologies Consortium (FutureNet), which ran from 2003 to 2007, brought together engineers and social scientists from eight UK Universities. The consortium focused on researching the development of an electrical power network that would support and encourage renewable energy sources without compromising quality of service. The EPRG part of the research was on two work packages:

  • System Evolution: Policy instruments and incentives to advance and deploy low carbon technologies.
  • Markets and Service: Market design and investment in generation technologies; implications of high levels of renewable penetration.

2006

Harnessing Community Energies: Embedding sustainable energy technologies at the local level

Project information

This multidisciplinary project evaluated the role of community initiatives in the implementation and embedding of renewable energy technologies in the United Kingdom. 

Further information