Controlled Environments

Cities have always experimented with controlled environments designed to sustain and enhance human life. New technologies, urbanisation, and a changing climate are altering how we interact with nature in cities. There is strategic interest in creating artificial environments that enhance urban atmospheres and ecologies.

The theme examines whether controlled environments create new system-wide infrastructural responses designed to maintain and improve urban ecologies.

Research Questions

–    Is the capacity to create controlled urban ecologies a key international economic, social and security priority?
–    How, and where, are new processes of environmental and atmospheric enclosure developing across different domains of urban life?
–    What forms of knowledge, technologies and practices support the production of controlled urban environments?
–    What tensions are associated with controlled environments designed to insulate urban spaces from atmospheric and ecological turbulences?


March 19, 2018 in Controlled Environments

An Urban research agenda on microclimatic enclosure

Simon Marvin and Jonathon Rutherford have just had a paper published in Urban Studies (Controlled environments: An urban research agenda on microclimatic enclosure) that sets out an urban research agenda on controlled environments.  Controlled environments create specialist forms of microclimatic…
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February 20, 2018 in Controlled Environments, General

CITY MATERIALS, URBAN DIMENSIONS – The Institute for Culture and Society & the Urban Institute call for papers

The Institute for Culture and Society & the Urban Institute call for papers at the NZGS/IAG CONFERENCE There is a growing literature which grapples with the materiality of levels, surfaces, and dimensions within cities, and the theoretical possibilities and challenges…
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Coming soon…


September 16, 2016 in Controlled Environments Event, Past events

24 May 2017 – Volumetric Urbanism: Charting new urban divisions Public Lecture

Date: 5:30pm, 24th May 2017 Venue: Lecture theatre 3, The Diamond, 32 Leavygreave Rd, Sheffield S3 7RD In major cities around the world, councils and governments are faced with the problem and possibilities of ‘volume’: the stacking and moving of…
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September 15, 2016 in Controlled Environments Event, Past events

24-26 May 2017 – ‘Volumetric Urbanism: Charting new urban divisions’, An International Workshop

An International Workshop University of Sheffield and University of Western Sydney Sheffield, United Kingdom, 24-26th May 2017. Organisers: Simon Marvin, Urban Institute, Rowland Atkinson, Inclusive Societies at the University of Sheffield and Donald McNeill, Institute for Culture and Society, Western…
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International network of the German Academy of Spatial Research and Planning (ARL): 3 year working group (from 2016) on smart cities.

ESRC international network (INCUT) – final meeting on smart and sustainability (Sept 2016 in Sheffield)

‘Daily life, digital technologies and energy demand’ Early Career Researcher network – producing a working paper collection as part of EPSRC network funding awarded by the Balance Network.


Estimated value in billions of global market for smart urban systems by 2020


The surface area of the Earth given over to greenhouses or some form of plastic cover is increasing by 20% every year.


Number of people who voluntarily wear an electronic tracking device such as a smartphone


The indoor biome of Manhattan is almost three times as large, in terms of its floor space, as is the geographical area of the island itself