Planning and Housing

The scholarship we publish on our Planning and Housing list looks at all available evidence to inform the creation of better homes and a better built environment for all of us individuals and communities, in the Global North and the Global South.

We have published the highest-quality work in this area by authors like Yvonne Rydin, Nick Gallent, Kate Henderson, Hugh Ellis and Alan Murie. The international Urban Policy, Planning and the Built Environment series examines the interdisciplinary dimensions of urbanism and the built environment – extending from urban policy and governance to urban planning, management, housing, transport, infrastructure, landscape, heritage and design.

Planning and Housing

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The aim of this chapter is to provide more detail on the analytical and research processes involved in the inhabitation practices approach and to highlight some of the issues to be confronted in the choice of methods and evaluation criteria to employ. The key question to be addressed is how should inhabitation practices be studied and evaluated by academics, governments or housing agencies? The aim of the chapter is to outline some of the general issues involved and the choices available.

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In this concluding chapter, the aim is to briefly summarise the main argument of the book, which is in four parts. First is the case for the importance of seeing the impact of housing on the rest of Nature; second is the redefinition of the field through adoption of the concept of inhabitation; third is the argument for the adoption of the practices approach as a research framework; and fourth is the adoption of a holistic research approach to the study of practices that is wide-ranging and by examining issues from different perspectives (including those of materials and animals). Each of these four arguments is considered in turn. Taken together these constitute a radical overhaul of housing research and policy and so the chapter concludes with a discussion of the implications for both.

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This chapter focuses on the consumption of houses with the aim of providing examples of the use of the concept of inhabitation practices in order to provide some guidance on the practical use of the concept and to illustrate the contribution that its application can make to the study of inhabitation and to housing policy. The chapter provides examples of the research topics that would be important to pursue, and to provide insight into the methods that could usefully be employed, in the hope that this will inspire the research that will contribute to goals such as climate change and to the health of Nature in general.

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Houses, People and Practices
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Rejecting the assumption that housing and cities are separate from nature, David Clapham advances a new research framework that integrates housing with the rest of the natural world. Demonstrating the wider context of human lives and the impact of housing on the non-human environment, the author considers the impact of current inhabitation practices on climate change and biodiversity.

Showcasing the significant contribution that housing policy can make in mitigating environmental problems, this book will stimulate debate amongst housing researchers and policy makers.

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This chapter builds on the previous discussion by focusing on the concept of social practices and applying it to inhabitation. Therefore, this chapter focuses on the concept of inhabitation practices as a way of integrating some of the insights generated in previous chapters and providing a focus for analysis. To achieve this, the chapter starts with the concept of social practices, describing its definition and use by different authors and how it has been applied in housing and other fields. This is followed by an examination of the similarities and differences between the new materialist approaches outlined in the previous chapter and social practices. The aim is to find a way forward that provides a conceptual framework for the analysis of inhabitation.

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This introductory chapter focuses on two propositions central to the argument of the book:

1. Houses and the people that live in them are important elements of Nature rather than separated from it.

2. The concept of ‘inhabitation’ provides an appropriate focus for what has been previously called housing studies and policy.

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This chapter reviews two common approaches to the study of housing. It begins with a brief description of social constructionism and its impact on academic housing research and policy and practice. The strengths and weaknesses of the approach are outlined and the increasingly popular alternative of new materialism that builds on the weaknesses is considered. New materialism overcomes the relative neglect of material elements in social constructionism, which was dominated by the study of language and discourse.

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The intention in this chapter is to outline how the inhabitation practices approach can be applied to other locations as well as the home. Three examples will be given in the chapter in order to show some possible approaches. The first is to focus on the redevelopment site in a similar way that was suggested in Chapter 6 for the building site. The second example is to focus on a particular inhabitation practice and to follow this through. The example chosen here is the practice of communing with nature. The third example is the examination of discourses as connective tissue that influence many practices. The example here is the related concepts of urban densification such as new urbanism or the ‘20-minute neighbourhood’ that influence public policies and the practices of developers. Finally, the impact of these (and other possible topics) on public policy issues will be considered.

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The chapter focuses on three topics within the house production process in order to give indications of how the inhabitation practices can be applied and the value of the analysis. The first focus is on the house-building site as the location where the practices involved in the production process come together as the house is constructed. This focus can provide a way in to analysis of the individual practices that contribute to the whole. The second focus is on the organisational and professional practices that are pursued by the many organisations and professions that are involved in house production, including trades such as plumbers or electricians and professions such as surveyors, town planners and so on working for many different kinds of organisations. The third focus is on the discourses that can be viewed as ‘connective tissue’ that link many individual practices by providing the context for their performance. The chapter concludes with a discussion of some of the policy issues that are raised by the analysis of production practices, focusing on the impacts on the rest of Nature.

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The built environment is the most potent representation and material manifestation of people’s presence on the planet, and in the course of its construction, ongoing management and maintenance, and the daily rhythms of use, it has profound effects on people’s lives and the qualities of ecology and the environment. Our lives are shaped by the design and emplacement of buildings and infrastructure, and there is a directionality embedded into them that influences much of what we do, how we do it and how we experience places. From the pavements and roads that provide the connections directing people from one place to another, to the juxtaposition of buildings and their interior design that shape how people move within and between spaces, the designed and constructed environment is formative in influencing social encounters and interactions. It is also closely intertwined with the functioning of the world’s biosphere, and is significant in the ongoing degradation and deterioration of local and global ecosystems.

Such is the importance of the built environment that there is a need to build in ways whereby it works well for all species, but the reality is that this is very far from being so. Too much of the built environment is based on speculation in land and property, or the propagation of a casino capitalism characterised by investments in risk-taking ventures that prioritise the construction of high-value-added buildings and infrastructure. This reflects the construction of buildings as a commercial asset, or part of an exchange economy in which their use, and usefulness, appear to be less important than the maximisation of returns from investment.

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