Co-designing Infrastructures

Community collaboration for liveable cities

Sarah Bell, Charlotte Johnson, Kat Austen, Gemma Moore, and Tse-Hui Teh


Co-designing Infrastructures tells the story of a research programme designed to bring the power of engineering and technology into the hands of grassroots community groups, to create bottom-up solutions to global crises. Four projects in London are described in detail, exemplifying community collaboration with engineers, designers and scientists to enact urban change. The projects co-designed solutions to air pollution, housing, the water-energy-food nexus, and water management. Rich case-study accounts are underpinned by theories of participation, environmental politics and socio-technical systems. The projects at the heart of the book are grounded in specific settings facing challenges familiar to urban communities throughout the world. This place-based approach to infrastructure is of international relevance as a foundation for urban resilience and sustainability. The authors document the tools used to deliver this work, providing guidance for others who are working to deliver local technical solutions to complex social and environmental problems around the world.

This is a book for engineers, designers, community organisers and researchers. Co-authored by researchers, it includes voices of community collaborators, their experiences, frustrations and aspirations. It explores useful theories about infrastructure, engineering and resilience from international academic research, and situates them in community-based co-design experience, to explain why bottom-up approaches are needed and how they might succeed.

Sarah Bell is City of Melbourne Chair in Urban Resilience and Innovation at the University of Melbourne and Visiting Professor in Environmental Engineering at University College London (UCL).

Charlotte Johnson is Head of Research Programmes at the Centre for Sustainable Energy and a Senior Research Fellow at UCL.

Kat Austen’s artistic practice is underpinned by extensive research and motivated by questions of how to move towards a more socially and environmentally just future.

Gemma Moore is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering.

Tse-Hui Teh is a lecturer in urban design and planning at the Bartlett School of Planning.

List of figures
List of tables
List of voices
List of abbreviations
How to Read this Book

1 Introduction
2 Urban Communities
3 Infrastructures
4 Bottom-Up Research
5 Social Housing Decisions: Demolition or Refurbishment?
6 Reconfiguring the Water-Energy-Food Nexus: Engineering Comes Home
7 Collaborating for Environmental Justice: Somers Town Air Quality
8 Integrating Water and Urban Greening: The Kipling Garden
9 Tools for Co-Design
10 Conclusions


Format: Paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

236 Pages

11 B&W tables, 13 B&W line drawings, 14 colour photo/halftones, and 6 line drawings

Copyright: © 2023

ISBN: 9781800082236

Publication: April 27, 2023

Series: Engaging Communities in City-making

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