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While there has been much focus by policymakers on environmental and economic sustainability in recent years, the idea of social sustainability is being left behind. When it comes to urban design and infrastructure provision, the ongoing focus by both policymakers and the infrastructure sector on mobility and the paid labour force means that segments of society are being left behind. Currently, much of our urban infrastructure excludes groups based on their age, race, class, gender and ability.
To drive truly inclusive design, break from traditional approaches and not repeat what’s already been done, a total shift in the paradigm on how cities are designed and managed is needed.
Through morning panel discussions and afternoon practical workshops, attendees will have the chance to examine infrastructure provision and engineering approaches to key issues such as:
Chair: Dr Ine Steenmans, UCL
Civil Engineering has always existed to meet social needs, whether that be the sewerage systems of the 19th century, energy grids or transport networks. In the 21st century we are grappling with an increasingly complex understanding of social needs, as will a diverse array of technologies that cross all scientific fields. This panel explores the relationship between the technological design of our cities and social justice outcomes
Chair: Neil Smith, Buro Happold
This event will examine what engineers are doing as a profession to deliver accessible cities and what do we mean by an accessible or an inclusive city. Our ageing society will have significant implications on our existing cities and fresh thinking is needed. Is the industry reacting to this in a positive manner and how can we marry the built environment with tech to develop a city ecosystem that is inclusive to all.
Chair: Amy Lamé , London Mayor’s Night Czar
Increasingly cities governments across the world are shifting their urban strategies towards valuing, managing and visioning the 24hour city. Chaired by London’s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, this session will explore the special requirements of infrastructure systems after dark. We will hear from a specialist in the accessibility of night time venues, as well as the role of urban lighting and transport provision for night-time workers.
Chair: Ellie Cosgrave
We live in a hugely gendered society, where social roles and expectations drive differences in patterns of work and mobility as well as our perceptions of safety and security in the public realm. But are our infrastructure commissioning processes, design principles and standards equipped to interpret and include these gendered experiences? And is the engineering profession doing enough to ensure an inclusive workforce that can represent these needs effectively? This panel will explore how infrastructure is experienced by different genders, and how the lack of female representation in the industry may reinforce a male bias in design.
Dr John Bingham-Hall
Theatrum Mundi and Dr. Adesola Akinyele, DancingStrong
A workshop led by Adesola Akinleye as part of the joint City Leadership Lab / Theatrum Mundi research project Choreographing the City.
Engineering uses empirical measurements of time and space to make predictions about the way physical systems will work. But there are also other ways of describing these phenomena that are embedded in the practices of dance making. Choreographic thinking has the potential to offer a different approach, seeing space as a set of mobile relationships and dividing time into rhythms rather than stable units of measurement.
In this workshop, Adesola will explore how somatic-thinking (Choreographic thinking) has the potential to challenge habitually used empirical measurements and therefore offers a different approach to envisioning the design of spaces. Using the architecture of the Institution of Civil Engineers as a study site, the session will explore how to analyse a building via the movement theories that draw on her experience as a dancer. Participatory reflective debate will explore implications on cross-cultural/specialist ideals, how we approach the physicality of urban spaces, and new design horizons.
Dr Jasmine Pradisitto, Quantum Artist
From one of the most watched TED talks ever by Sir Ken Robinson to a recent NASA research on the nature of genius, it is creativity and divergent thinking which leads to innovation; things that children do quite naturally and which are practiced by everyone from scientists to artists. Yet as we specialise in our chosen fields, we can sometimes forget how necessary it is to take risks, to allow fluency in our ideas not converging on the first solution, and to access our life experiences in finding the connections that can help us solve old problems in new ways.
In this workshop, through a combination of hands-on activities such as making 3D bubbles and using giant Spirographs, and thinking tools which I have used for over 20 years with children and adults alike and which I use in my own practise as an artist, I hope to get participants to remember the joy in simply ‘playing’ again. A great believer that the solutions we need are in our subconscious if we can allow the necessary connections to form, I will explain the creative process from preparation to incubation to verification and how it can be accessed; why I believe artists are so necessary in reframing how we see the world and our perspectives; why collaboration and nature are such inspirations and why art and creativity will become increasingly important in a machine, information orientated world.
Kirsty Kelley, Smart Cities Innovation Manager, The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association
There are 2 million people with sight loss in the UK today, a figure predicted to rise to 4 million by 2050. With a legacy of accessibility issues, how do we ensure the physical and virtual environments of our future cities are inclusive and welcoming places for all? Using sight loss as our edge-case study, we will explore through discussion and example some of the opportunities and blockers potentially created by Smart Cities and invite engineers, designers, policy makers and planners to consider the challenges of putting all people, regardless of ability, at the heart of design and policy.
Fergus Anderson, Buro Happold,
This workshop will based on the concept of a design hackathon – looking to task our engineering colleagues to consider at macro and micro scale the links between infrastructure and mental health, neurodiversity and dementia. The premise being that this is not about the application of design code, equations and algorithms, but rethinking the way we consider the world from an experiential perspective.
Chair: Zoe Henderson, UCL
Victoria is Director of Strategy and Partnerships at the GDI Hub. GDI is a non-profit as well as a research centre in UCL, charged with the bold vision of building a movement to accelerate disability innovation for a fairer world.
The Hub is a partnership of public, private, community, educational and cultural institutions continuing the legacy from the Paralympic Games in London. It exchanges learning and practice with global partners focusing on the role innovation can play in tacking poverty and injustice through research, teaching, inclusive entrepreneurship, policy and practice. It is led by a board of disabled people from three continents and the chair is Paralympian, Lord Chris Holmes.
Previously Victoria was Head of Paralympic Legacy, Inclusion and Sports Participation at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park where she led the Paralympic Legacy Programme pre and post 2012. The Programme saw over £10m invested across the spectrum of disability arts and sports; jobs, skills and volunteering; inclusive design; National Paralympic Day Festival; and Mandeville Place - a public space to celebrate the Paralympics. It has been called the most successful legacy programme from any Paralympics. The Community Sport programme has reached over half a million people since the Games.
With has a background in urban regeneration, social justice and the NGO sector, Victoria has previously working in in other UK and European cities and has a Master’s degree from UCL in Social Development Practice.
Victoria is currently conducting research into the legacy from the Paralympic Games in London and is particularly interested in how the participation of traditionally excluded groups through co-production of both programmes and urban plans can deliver better long term outcomes for everyone.
Julie is passionate about creating a built environment that is accessible and inclusive for everyone. Having started her career in local government as a town planner, Julie soon specialised in access for disabled people, helping to improve access and facilities for disabled people in the City of London.
In 2001 Julie moved to the Greater London Authority where she developed the London Plan policies on inclusive design and wrote the Supplementary Planning Guidance 'Accessible London: Achieving an Inclusive Environment’. By providing technical access advice on strategic planning applications referred to the Mayor and contributing to the development of the Olympic Delivery Authority’s award winning Inclusive Design Strategy and Standards, Julie helped London deliver the ‘most accessible Olympic and Paralympic Games ever’.
Following the success of London 2012, Julie became Project Lead on a Government Paralympic Legacy project aimed at stimulating a systematic change in the way built environment professionals are taught inclusive design – the Built Environment Professional Education Project (BEPE). Julie continued to lead the BEPE project when it moved to the Construction Industry Council in 2016, to help in its transition from a government driven project to an industry owned and led project. Julie is a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute, a Built Environment Expert (BEE) for Design Council CABE, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of the Access Association and the British Standards Institution Committee B/559 (responsible for developing standards on access for disabled people to buildings), and was awarded the OBE in 2004 for services to disabled people.