Creating sustainable cities one building at a time: towards an integrated urban design framework

Julie Futcher, Gerald Mills, Rohinton Emmanuel, Ivan Korolija

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    37 Citations (Scopus)
    449 Downloads (Pure)


    One of the tenets of urban sustainability is that more compact urban forms that are more densely occupied are more efficient in their overall use of space and of energy. In many designs this has been translates into high-rise buildings with a focus on energy management at their outer envelopes. However, pursuing this building focused approach alone means that buildings are treated as stand-alone entities with minimal consideration to their impact on the surrounding urban landscape and vice versa. Where urban density is high, individual buildings interact with each other, reducing access to sunshine and daylight, obstructing airflow and raising outdoor air temperature. If/when each building pursues its own sustainability agenda without regard to its urban context, the result will diminish the natural energy resources available to nearby buildings and worsen the outdoor environment generally. This paper examines some of these urban impacts using examples from the City of London where rapid transformation is taking place as very tall buildings with exceptional energy credentials are being inserted into a low-rise city without a plan for the overall impact of urban form. The focus of the paper is on access to sunshine and wind and the wider implications of sustainable strategies that that focuses on individual buildings to the exclusion of the surrounding urban landscape. The work highlights the need for a framework that accounts for the synergistic outcomes that result from the mutual interactions of buildings in urban spaces.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-71
    Number of pages9
    Early online date11 Apr 2017
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


    • sustainability
    • urban design
    • energy management
    • building and urban form


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