EPSRC Retrofit 2050

In futures thinking ‘backcasting’ is often used to generate a desirable future, and then look backwards from that future to the present in order to strategise and to plan how it could be achieved. In other words, a vision, or visions, of a desirable future are first defined and then pathways (or roadmaps) to that future are developed.

An example of this approach is the EPSRC Retrofit 2050 programme, in which the University of Reading was a key player. This research scoped out three generic visions

Vision 1:A Smart-Networked City:

The city as a hub within a highly mobile and competitive globally networked society. Pervasive, information-rich virtual environments integrate seamlessly with the physical world. ICTs provide real time information to drive efficiencies through automation and intelligent control, and advanced market oriented solutions allow for the internalisation of environment costs. This is an open, outward looking society in which the mobility of people, goods and services remains high.

connected city graphic


Vision 2: Compact City:

The city as a site of intensive and efficient urban living. Urban land-use, buildings, services and infrastructure provision are optimised in order to create dense urban settlement forms that encourage reduced demand and more efficient use of energy and resources. Concentration in urban centres reduces pressures on the periphery. Significant efficiencies are obtained through systems integration and re-design.

compact city graphic


Vision 3: Self Reliant-Green City:

The city as a self-reliant bioregion, living in harmony with nature. A self-replenishing, largely self-reliant system of circular metabolism, where resources are local, demand is constrained and the inputs and outputs of the city are connected (cradle to cradle). In many ways this is an inward facing society, but one conscious of its global responsibility to ‘live within its limits’.

green city graphic