SEEK: Salford Environment for Expertise and Knowledge

Journal Article (Refereed)
September 2013

City Futures: Exploring Urban Retrofit and Sustainable Transitions

Eames, M & Dixon, T & May, T & Hunt, M 2013, 'City Futures: Exploring Urban Retrofit and Sustainable Transitions', Building Research and Information, 41(5), pp.504-516.


Cities are responsible for up to 70% of global carbon emissions and 75% of global energy consumption. By 2050 it is estimated that 70% of the world's population will live in cities. The critical challenge for contemporary urbanism, therefore, is to understand how to develop the knowledge, capacity and capability for public agencies, the private sector and multiple users in city-regions (i.e. the city and its wider hinterland) to re-engineer systemically their built environment and urban infrastructure in response to climate change and resource constraints. To inform transitions to urban sustainability, key stakeholders' perceptions were sought though a participatory backcasting and scenario foresight process in order to illuminate challenging but realistic socio-technical scenarios for the systemic retrofit of core UK city-regions. The challenge of conceptualizing complex urban transitions is explored across multiple socio-technical ‘regimes’ (housing, non-domestic buildings, urban infrastructure), scales (building, neighbourhood, city-region), and domains (energy, water, use of resources) within a participatory process. The development of three archetypal ‘guiding visions’ of retrofit city-regional futures developed through this process are discussed, along with the contribution that such foresight processes might play in ‘opening up’ the governance and strategic navigation of urban sustainability.


SEEK Members

External Authors

T Dixon

M Eames

M Hunt

Publication Details

Journal Name
Building Research and Information