Whither Urban Metabolism?
Philippe Vandenbroeck
28 March 2017, 18:15-20:30
Instituut voor Mechanica. Room : C300 00.81 – Auditorium D

Photo: Bron: Stremke, S. & Koh, J. (2011) Integration of ecological and thermodynamic concepts in the design of sustainable energy landscapes. Landscape Journal, 30, 194-213.

The notion of an urban metabolism has surged forward as central in a contemporary conceptualization of urban sustainability. The city is understood as a complex, interconnected set of flows of energy, water and materials. Sustainability then is predicated on the transition from a linear to a circular or closed-loop metabolism, where environmentally damaging outputs (solid waste, wastewater) are re-used as productive inputs for other processes (such as energy generation). Eco-efficiency – seeking to reduce material and energy intensity and minimize waste and emissions - is the concept that underpins this metabolic perspective. This kind of thinking has been applied at different scales, from the individual building (‘green architecture’) to the neighbourhood and city scale (‘ecocities’) to a territorial scale where cities are seen as embedded in an extractive hinterland (or ‘bioregion’). In this lecture we will take the pulse of this conceptual strategy and speculate on its potential to support and frame future urban design strategies for sustainability.

Philippe Vandenbroeck is founder of shiftN, a consultancy network dedicated to supporting strategic decision and innovation projects using scenario planning and systems thinking methodologies. He has an eclectic academic background in agricultural engineering, philosophy and human settlements. Many of the societal issues tackled by shiftN have a spatial dimension which offers scope for a disciplinary crossbreeding between technical, systems and designerly approaches. Philippe is an Associate of AC4, the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict and Complexity at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. He also teaches Strategic Project Analysis at the Institute for Mobility Studies at the University of Hasselt.

Instituut voor Mechanica
Celestijnenlaan 300
3001 Heverlee
Room : C300 00.81 – Auditorium D