Reading 2050: a vision for future urban living

What will Reading look like in 30 years‘ time? How can we ensure there will be jobs, living spaces and facilities that we can enjoy in a sustainable way? The Reading 2050 project, including Professor Tim Dixon from the School of the Built Environment, has led development of a vision for Reading 2050 in consultation with local communities, organisations and businesses. Tim is hosting a series of public lectures to encourage debate on delivering the vision.  On 28 June, he will welcome Natalie Ganpatsingh, from Reading-based Nature Nurture and on 18 July, Dr Eugene Mohareb and Dr Daniela Perrotti from the School of the Built Environment, University of Reading will be speaking. Tim explains more.

The Reading 2050 project was established in 2013 to deliver a strategic, long-term vision that will support growth and prosperity, and help ensure that a truly smart and sustainable city can be delivered by 2050. The project was ‘co-created’ as a partnership between the University of Reading (School of the Built Environment), a planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore, and Reading UK.

The vision was developed through a series of workshops and activities with a wide range of organisations and residents from across Reading and the Thames Valley region and was launched in October 2017.  It has been cited in the Government Office of Science Future of Cities Foresight Programme and final report (2014-16) and directly supports Reading Borough Council’s statutory Local Plan and Corporate Plan. The project was also recently shortlisted for an award in the University of Reading’s Research Engagement and Impact Awards 2018.

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PER[form] 1:1 Built structure unveiling event

The school of Architecture welcomes you to the unveiling of their PER[form]ANCE space, designed and built by second year architecture students, in collaboration with the School of Arts and Communication Design.

Real Estate and Planning lunchtime seminar: Safe Collateral, Arm’s-Length Credit: Evidence from the Commercial Real Estate Market

Dr Joseph Nichols Principal Economist, Federal Reserve

There are two main creditors in commercial real estate: arm’s-length investors and banks. We model commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) as the less informed source of credit. In equilibrium, these investors fund properties with a low probability of distress and banks fund properties that may require renegotiation. We test the model using the 2007-2009 collapse of the CMBS market as a natural experiment, when banks funded both collateral types. Our results show that properties likely to have been securitized were less likely to default or be renegotiated, consistent with the model. This suggests that securitization in this market funds safe collateral. 


Real Estate and Planning lunchtime seminar: The Local State of Housing: Deepening Entrepreneurial Governance and The Place of Politics and Publics

Emma Ormerod Research Associate Durham University

Housing is political, and its relation to the local state is undergoing a monumental transition. This research charts the journey of a neighbourhood in Gateshead, North East England, through housing regeneration; focusing on a joint venture partnership that has grown from a mired central state regeneration initiative, Housing Market Renewal. It foregrounds the local state as an increasingly relevant conceptual and analytical frame through which to reveal contemporary transformations in local governing. Through an in-depth examination of the relations between new and old state actors, local politics and multiple publics, we can see who is governing and who matters.

In positioning housing as central to a contemporary capitalist political economy, housing therefore becomes a key optic through which to understand the deepening of entrepreneurial governance under austerity localism. The local state in Gateshead is reconstructing the housing market and harnessing private finance. It has become a housing developer in its own right through a complex and opaque form of financialization. Despite an entrenched marketized logic, however, the local state is not simply a unified or monolithic structure. It consists of both structures and relations that are in constant struggle as it tentatively negotiates the current and unstable mode of local governance. Seeing the state as a fragmented, malleable and permeable set of relations reveals the various forms of power, sources of pressure and politics within and beyond it. As the local state moves increasingly away from previous processes of public engagement and actively conceals its role in housing development, political power is being channelled into the hands of new state actors. Whilst this is undoubtedly de-democratising, a close examination of social relations reveals the potential to disrupt, or re-politicise such processes, which can offer hope to the place of politics and publics.


How research is creating a sustainable built environment for tomorrow’s world

By Professor Tim Dixon, School of the Built Environment, University of Reading

Is this how Reading will look in 2050?

As the world’s urban population continues to grow, it will be increasingly important for the built environment sector to offer solutions that work for individual streets as well as whole cities.

Buildings already make up 20% of global emissions, and the world’s population will be 70% urban by 2050. So, understanding how we can join up our thinking and disciplinary understanding from individual building level to neighbourhood level and at the urban level will be essential to make the built environment work better for society and create more resilient and sustainable places.

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RIBE Seminar – School of the Built Environment

Understanding city-scale environment for people and microbes

Presenter: Prof Yuguo Li from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Hong Kong

A livable habitat is necessary and essential for both people and microorganisms. Many scientists and engineers explored how major environment parameters in a habitat are maintained and changed, and how we might design such habitat for improving the environment and climate for its occupants, and for controlling the transmission of infectious microbes. The transport phenomena at the micro-scale surface touch and meso-scale city climate are linked.

Our research team at the University of Hong Kong has been attempting to understand the physics of such city-scale environment. I shall report our recent progress in understanding the possible new local synergistic warming phenomenon in Hong Kong, how the urban heat island circulation impact on urban air pollution/climate, and how the microbes are transmitted on the surface network and indoor contact network in a large city, and how these findings may impact on city design and policy.


Dr. Yuguo Li is Professor, Associate Dean of Engineering (Research) and former Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Hong Kong. He studied at Shanghai Jiaotong University, Tsinghua and KTH in Stockholm, and was a Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO. His main research interests are on built environment engineering (indoor air quality, city climate, and environment studies of infection). He led the development of 2009 WHO guidelines on natural ventilation.  He currently serves as an Associate Editor of Indoor Air, and President of ISIAQ Academy of Fellows. He received John Rydberg Gold Medal from SCANVAC in 2014, and an Honorary Doctor Degree from Aalborg University, Denmark, 2015 and the Inoue Memorial Award, SHASE, Japan in 2016. He was elected a Fellow of ASHRAE, ISIAQ, HKIE, and IMechE.

If anyone is interested to meet Prof Yuguo Li for research discussion, please email to  Dr Zhiwen (Vincent) Luo ( to make an arrangement.


DEGW Archive Exhibition Open: 1700-1830,
Lecture Doors Open: 1800-1830, Lecture: 1830-2000

Lecture hosted by Despina Katsikakis.

Despina Katsikakis is a globally renowned expert on the impact of the built environment on business performance.

A former Chairman of international consultancy DEGW and recently with Barclays Corporate Real Estate, Despina has 30 years’ experience working with international organisations at board level, guiding them on how to use their workplace to affect behaviour and culture and how to align policies and processes to support innovation and organisational transformation.

With former clients including Accenture, BBC, Deutsche Bank, Microsoft, BP, GlaxoSmithKline and Google, among others, she has developed ground-breaking initiatives from global real estate strategies and policies, buildings and workplace transformation, through to processes and tools for real estate management.

Despina is passionate that the built environment should be developed with clear purpose and focus on both the end user experience and its impact on business, society and the environment. She has an outstanding track record advising developers, funds and their design teams on how to differentiate and future proof award winning schemes globally.

A regular conference presenter, facilitator and writer on innovation of the built environment, with a focus on future trends and their impact on organisations, buildings and the city.

More information to follow.

Designing Healthy Homes

A seminar to discuss the role of housing in the wider healthcare system

Homes play an important role in alleviating pressure on the health service, but are often framed in terms of illness-prevention rather than wellbeing-promotion. This ignores the more holistic concept of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO 1946). In that context, what then does it mean to have a ‘healthy’ home and what consequence does this have on the planning, design and development of housing?

This seminar will bring together five expert speakers to explore how housing intersects with wider health provision and the practicalities of delivering ‘healthy’ homes. It will be of particular interest to academics and practitioners involved in the design, construction and refurbishment of the homes of the future.


  • Dr. Ian J. Ewart (Chair)*
    Lecturer in Digital Technologies in the Built Environment
  • Simon Nicol
    Group Director, BRE Housing and Energy
  • Gwyn Roberts
    Homes and Communities Lead, BRE
  • Domini Gunn
    Director of Health and Wellbeing, Chartered Institute of Housing
  • Guy Burnett
    Group Development Director, Thames Valley Housing Association
  • Michael Chang
    Project and Policy Manager, Town and Country Planning Association

This event is free of charge, Parking available in Car Park 1A

*ESRC Future Research Leader fellowship 2013-2107. Grant number ES/K009435/1. Project title ‘Designing Healthy Homes’

Professional Practices in the Built Environment Conference

The nature and value of professional judgment and knowledge is increasingly being called into question as new technologies give access to new ways of working. This conference provides an opportunity for practitioners and academics to come together to understand and learn from different models of professionalism across Architecture and the Built Environment, over time and across the globe. The conference is part of the AHRC funded Evidencing and Communicating the Value of Architects project.


Keynote Speakers

  • Peggy Deamer
  • Roger Flanagan
  • Rob Imrie
  • Hans Wamelink
  • Helga Nowotny

International Women’s Day Seminar

In recognition of International Women’s Day, the School of the Built Environment will be hosting a 1-hour seminar with Chrissi McCarthy, founder and managing director of Constructing Equality. The event will be held in Miller G05, on 8 March, from 1 – 2pm, with refreshments served from 12:30pm. Chrissi will speak about the gender balance issues that face STEM professions (with a focus on built environment professions), the benefits of greater gender balance, and the role both men and women can play in strengthening the sector.

Please register here


International Women's Day