Dr Rachel Macrorie recently participated in a four-day workshop entitled ‘Interfacing Infrastructures in Cities: Politics and Spatialities of the Urban Nexus’, which was jointly organised by Prof. Jochen Monstad (University of Utrecht, NL) and Prof. Oliver Coutard (LATTS, University Paris-Est, France).

Held in the historic town of Autun in the beautiful Burgundy countryside, the meeting brought together urban geographers, environmental historians, reflexive technologists, sociologists and anthropologists. Each participant had prepared a draft paper in relation to the workshop theme.

Dr. Macrorie’s paper, co-authored with Prof. Marvin, questions why integrated approaches have become the guiding maxim for enabling resource efficient material flows, smart and connected cites, and resilient economies. By critically appraising three contemporary urban integration techniques (nexus thinking/ urban operating systems/ economic agglomeration), they suggest that there has been a move away from the modernist ideal of an integrated metropolitan whole. Today, urban integration represents a very different agenda, that is underpinned by different practices & knowledges, and that can serve to further fragment the city. The paper suggests that this shift in modes of urban integration raises an important set of critical social science research questions.

All 14 papers were appraised in a constructive round-table format with discussants and open floor debates. This process has resulted in a forthcoming special issue by the journal Urban Studies.