This is the blog of the Adaptable Suburbs research project at University College London. Started in 2006, with the first suburbs project (Towards Successful Suburban Town Centres), the blog records the thoughts and ongoing theoretical development of the research.

UCL’s EPSRC-funded Towards Successful Suburban Town Centres project challenged policy assumptions about suburbs, revealing that they have a great deal to teach us.  Looking at 26 suburban centres in outer London – places such as Barnet and Bexleyheath, South Norwood and South Harrow, Wallington and Whetstone, seen as both unfashionable and unremarkable – the research team delivered new findings about the extent of their adaptability and resilience. The research findings made it clear that often ignored places can be models of flexible form, sustaining successful spatial networks over centuries. Understanding these physical success factors helps planners and designers to create sustainable developments today.

The second suburbs project Adaptable Suburbs ran for four years till 2014. It sought to understand why the networks of street and spaces in twenty of the London suburbs already studied work well.  Extensive, multi-disciplinary analysis was used to explore the influence of social interactions and spatial movement on the economic vitality and adaptability of places. Key techniques included space syntax analysis of street network accessibility; historical analysis of change over time; street-level ethnography, interviewing the people who use and trade in each centre and mapping their spatial networks; and detailed town centre analysis using socio-economic data.

The project’s presentations and peer-reviewed publications can be found by clicking through the links above, or here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/adaptablesuburbs.

For further information email: AdaptableSuburbs@ucl.ac.uk

EPSRC reference: EP/I001212/1

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