Podcast explores how cities work

The past, present and future of cities is the subject of the latest Big Idea Podcast.

With more than half of the world’s population now living in urban areas, understanding how cities work will become increasingly important in the coming decades.

On this month’s show experts from the University talk about the rise, fall and possible rise again of tower blocks, discuss what forces can define and change a city, and predict what cities in the future will look like.

The ressurrection of tower blocks

In the UK tower blocks are synonymous with the post-war building boom. Devised as utopian cities in the sky, in recent times they have come crashing down, both literally and figuratively.

Professor Miles Glendinning from Architectural Conservation has been cataloguing their history as part of a new project.

He considers why tower blocks have been successful in other countries, why the UK rejected them, and whether they are about to experience a comeback.

What a load of rubbish

One of the most pressing issues for cities is what to do with their waste. As cities get bigger, the more there is to dispose.

There isn’t a uniform, agreed way to do this around the world. Different ways of dealing with waste can produce very different cities.

Dr Jamie Furniss, lecturer in international development, gives an insight into how waste defines a city. He argues that Africa’s biggest city, Cairo, may have a more environmentally friendly approach to rubbish than many western nations.

Cities of the future

What factors do urban planners consider when they want to make urban areas better places to live?

Dr Sara Tilley, research associate from Open Space, has been considering what the city of the future looks like, specifically for their youngest and oldest inhabitants.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea Podcast is a monthly show featuring academics discussing contemporary issues and sharing their research and expertise.

As well as being an accessible way for the public to hear about the University’s work, the Big Idea is also a forum for academics to meet colleagues from different areas, share ideas, and gain media training in a studio setting.

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