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?


October 20, 2017 in Controlled Environments

Culture & Climate Change: Future Scenarios Residency

Emma Critchley is a visual artist specialising in underwater photography and video. In June 2016 Emma was awarded a year-long residency called Culture & Climate Change, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, The University of Sheffield, The Open University and the…

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July 19, 2017 in Blog, Controlled Environments

Artificial environments are turning the world outside in, but that’s no way to save the planet

This blog post was written by Simon Marvin and Jonathan Rutherford and originally appeared in The Conversation. When meltwater breached the global seed bank near Svalbard in May, after unusually warm weather, it served as a stark reminder of the need to…

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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