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In today’s episode we’re talking about the contentious issue of tall buildings. Some people love them, some people hate them. My guests today have come up with a concept for high rise that could be much more sustainable and adaptable than conventional skyscrapers. My guests today are Tomas Stokke and Shonn Mills. Tomas is a co-founder of Haptic Architects based in London and Oslo. He overseas Haptic’s international work and has taught, lectured, exhibited and been published internationally. Shonn Mills is Global Head of High Rise Buildings at Ramboll, with more than 20 years experience as an engineer. They have collaborated to produce a new concept for sustainable tall building design, which is called Regenerative Highrise. They have taken a really interesting approach in tackling a difficult urban site in Oslo and designing a building that responds to this while being low carbon and extremely adaptable. We talk about all of the interesting details in the conversation so I won’t get into that now. Episode 16 of this podcast was called ‘Are Tall Buildings Sustainable?’ and I concluded that typically tall buildings have a huge carbon and material footprint and its is clear that they can have a negative impact on a city’s urban design, environment, economy and social life. So I came into this conversation a bit skeptical and ready to challenge them. We ended up having a really good conversation and I think they have done some really useful work here in pushing the design of tall buildings much closer towards sustainability and taking a long term approach. If you are enjoying the Green Urbanist podcast, the best thing you can do to support it is to share an episode with a friend or colleague who you think might enjoy it. I hope it sparks some interesting conversations for you. Links:Dezeen article on Regenerative Highrise: of Downtown Highrise vs Suburban Low Rise study: Architects: Urbanist websiteContact FormSocial Media:
To celebrate the 50th episode and second birthday of the Green Urbanist Podcast, I sit down with Giulia Mori to discuss the question: What has to happen in this critical decade to ensure successful climate action?We talk about:The need for legislation to push the building industry towards sustainabilityCircular economy and 'Circular Score', a concept Giulia developed with some collaboratorsThe challenge of giving up oil, and why we need to do itGetting excited about the future againClimate adaptation Find out more about Circular Score: with Giulia: Urbanist websiteContact FormSocial Media:
Reporting live from Footprint+ 2022, a new sustainability conference in Brighton, UK.  Featuring interviews with:Joe Jack Williams, Feilden Clegg Bradley StudiosBarny Evans, TurleyAmin Taha, Groupwork Steve Webb, Webb Yates EngineersTim Pyne, Footprint+ (Footprint Plus) U+IQ-BotRaw ChargingWe discuss a range of topics including the net zero energy transition, building with stone and timber,  the sustainability of historic places, retrofit robots and more!Green Urbanist websiteContact FormSocial Media:
Gustavo and Younha are both Technical Directors at Atelier Ten, an environmental design consultancy. Combining expertise in architecture and engineering they shape buildings and masterplans to be sustainable and healthy. In this episode we discuss:What is environmental design and how it differs for buildings and masterplansCircular design in masterplanningCarbon emissions and sinks in landscape designHow the development and design industry is changing and the need for collaboration and debateThis episode was recorded at the Footprint+ Conference in Brighton in May 2022. We recorded this with a single microphone sitting outside near to the beach so there is background noise. It's not too distracting and hopefully gives you a sense of the atmosphere on the day.  At some points in the conversation we make reference to 'Patrick'. That is Patrick Bellew, Founding Director of Atelier Ten, who spoke at the conference earlier in the day. Find out more about Atelier Ten: Urbanist websiteContact FormSocial Media:
Biophilia is about how we as humans have an innate love and connection to other living things. It is no surprise then that spending time in natural environments such as forests, mountains and parks, is extremely beneficial to our mental and physical health. But how can we recreate our natural biophilic habitat in urban areas? Can we make cities good homes for other living things too? Sources (articles): (Books):Civilised to Death, Christopher RyanDarwin Comes to Town, Menno SchilthuizenFlourish, Michael Pawyln and Sarah IchiokaFrom What Is to What If, Rob HopkinsBraiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall-KimmererGreen Urbanist website: Contact FormFollow the Green Urbanist:
This episode is a conversation with Samantha Suppiah, Christina Mirasol Sayson, Anna Denardin and Nolita Mvunelo of Possible Futures.  We talk about colonialism and sustainability, the realities of life in the Global South and the need for communities to be able to define their own vision for a regenerative future.Note: This episode is pretty heavy and may be challenging for listeners in the Global North, who are not used to considering colonialism. I invite you to stick with it and keep an open mind. This is a really important discussion.Footnotes:In the 37th minute there is a reference to "2 degrees Centigrade".  Climate scientists typically refer to temperature in Celsius in discussing climate change. Celsius is interchangeable with Centigrade.  In the 41st minute there is a reference to "10 million people dying from climate emergencies" - there is actually no current consensus estimate on how many people will die at a temperature rise of 2 deg C.  This is speculation only.  What we do have is a consensus estimate of mass migrations: for every degree increase, 1 billion migrants.  The entire issue of mass migration has notably been omitted from IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report (2022).Find out more about Possible Futures: Contact the Green Urbanist: Follow the Green Urbanist: 
In this episode, we talk about Farah's new book Net Zero City, the role of urban design in achieving a net zero city, and a clear process for cities to decarbonise in 10 years.Farah Naz, is an award winning Climate Change strategist with over 20 years’ experience in the construction sector gained in the USA, UK, Southeast Asia and most recently the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She is a Chartered Engineer (UK), Fellow of CIBSE, LEED and WELL AP and Verified Research Expert for Dubai Future Foundation. Farah Chairs CIBSE UAE Chapter and is an advocate of STEM education for the future generation. Farah recently co authored a book on Net Zero City, which is considered the first book published from the Middle East Region.Find out more about Farah and the book: Green Urbanist website: the Green Urbanist:
Steve O'Reilly works in a policy & communications role at Ireland's national centre for the Circular Economy, The Rediscovery Centre. Steve spent over 7 years in the Netherlands, Europe's circular economy hotspot, working on many projects related to circularity and becoming inspired by the circular innovation he saw there. Upon returning to Ireland during the pandemic, Steve took up a position in The Rediscovery Centre in Dublin to help drive circularity back in Ireland.In this episode, Steve shares insights into the social potential of circularity, how it is blossoming in rural communities and what we can learn from the Dutch.Learn more about the Rediscovery Centre: with Steve: Green Urbanist website: the Green Urbanist:
It turns out what's good for us is also good for the planet.How can we design housing for human beings that aligns with our evolution? In this episode I talk about how Co-Housing and Eco-Village concepts could be a proxy for hunter gatherer tribes by creating small, cooperative communities within urban settings. This way of living has huge benefits for our wellbeing and can also be an effective way of minimising energy and resource use. A Win-Win for people and the environment.Resources and further reading:Articles/web pages: to Death, Christopher RyanSapiens, Yuval Noah HarariUncivilised Genes, Gustav MilneGreen Urbanist website: the Green Urbanist:
This episode is part 1 of a series about  human evolution, our prehistory and Hunter Gatherer ways of life. Why should urbanists be interested in this? In this episode I make the argument that:We evolved over 2 million years as foragers and it is the only environmentally and socially sustainable way of life we know of.Living this way, embedded within ecosystems, is what what we are optimised for and therefore how human beings thrive.Life in our prehistoric past (and in modern hunter gatherer bands) is not nearly as awful as we think. In fact we can learn a lot from their approach to life, work, play and community.This means that our pre-history should be a key design consideration in architecture and urban design. In part 2 (and maybe 3) I will set out specifically what this means for urban design.Sources:Civilised to Death, Christopher Ryan Sapiens, Yuval Noah HarariUncivilised Genes, Gustav Milne Urbanist website: the Green Urbanist:
Michael Pawlyn established Exploration Architecture in 2007 and has built a reputation as a thought leader in regenerative design and the circular economy. He has lectured internationally and, in 2011, became one of only a small handful of architects to have a talk posted on which has since had over 1.8 million views. He is the author of Flourish: Design Paradigms for our Planetary Emergency (with co-author Sarah Ichioka) and Biomimicry in Architecture.In this episode we talk about:Regenerative DesignBiomimicryIndigenous WisdomSystems Change and shifting Paradigms.All of these ideas are captured in the amazing new book Flourish, which I encourage you to read. More info here: and Sarah also have an excellent podcast called Flourish Systems Change: Instagram page:'s Twitter: Urbanist new website: the Green Urbanist:
Today we’re talking about the intersection of of mobility, sustainability, social justice and disability rights.I am joined by Anna, Micah and Abby from Disability Rights Washington who are part of the Disability Mobility Initiative for Washington State in the US. They are doing amazing work in sharing the stories of how people with disabilities move around and campaigning for systemic change in how our urban environments are designed and built. They want to see people with disabilities in real positions of power and influencing decision making and they talk about the barriers that are currently stopping this.Learn more about Disability Mobility Initiative: the Green Urbanist:
Simon is CEO of the business improvement districts Camden Town Unlimited and Euston Town, as well as being CEO of Camden Collective, & the Camden Highline.  He is also Co-Chair of the Cross River Partnership and Chair of Camden Giving.  Simon sits on the London Enterprise Action Partnership (LEAP) and is its Champion for Small Business.  During the pandemic Simon was seconded to Mayor’s Covid Business Forum and the London Transition Board, where he Chaired the Business Reopening Strategy Group.  He now sits on the London Recovery Board.  Simon has been leading the Camden Highline project since its inception in 2017.Learn more about Simon and his Work:Camden Highline WebsiteCamden Green Loop WebsiteSimon's TwitterFollow the Green Urbanist:
Dr Morgan Philips is UK Co-Director of The Glacier Trust, a UK charity that enables remote mountain communities in Nepal to adapt to Climate Change, and Head of Insight at Global Action Plan. He has a PhD in Environmental Education and is the author of Great Adaptations, a new book about climate adaptation.In this episode we are talking, unsurprisingly, about climate adaptation. What is it, why we need to be talking about it and lots of examples of good and bad adaptations from cities adapting to increased heat to rural communities in Nepal using agroforestry.Morgan also tells me about two concepts called Deep Adaptation and Transformational Adaptation, which explore how we may adapt to a society level collapse due to climate change. So, we really cover climate adaption from micro to macro scales in this episode.Learn more about Morgan and his work: Adaptations Book: the Green Urbanist:
"So, here's a big problem we need to talk about.Net Zero Carbon means different things in different situations. We all get to define what we "mean" by net zero (i.e. what we include in our calculations) to suit our project."In this episode I delve into the problems associated with the term 'Net Zero Carbon', particularly from an urban design and placemaking perspective.Today's episode was sparked by a Linkedin post I made criticising McDonald's Net Zero Carbon restaurant: got a lot of traction, with over 40,000 views, 500 likes, 70 comments and 19 reshares so far. Some people supported my criticism while others offered challenges and corrections. This has all fed into a really interesting discussion and informed my thinking further. Rather than responding to all the Linkedin comments, I have laid out further thoughts here on the McDonalds example and on the problems with Net Zero in general.Dezeen article: the Green Urbanist:
Soils matter! Chris Churchman explains how protecting green areas and improving soil quality is crucial for fighting climate change. Chris is a landscape architect and strategist, and the founding Director of Churchman Thornhill Finch landscape architects. As well as having decades of experience designing stunning projects like the gardens of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, Chris is interested in the role of soil in tackling climate change. He joined me to talk about the potential for soil to play a much bigger role in sequestering carbon, how new development on greenfield sites releases a lot more carbon than we currently account for, and some thoughts on urban greening tactics. Follow Chris: the Green Urbanist:
Rachel Hoolahan is an architect and sustainability co-ordinator at Orms Architects, a leading London practice with extensive experience working with existing buildings. For the past few years, the practice has engaged in a series of deep research assignments and is utilising this data and knowledge to push the boundaries of sustainable development – both in refurbishment and new build projects.Recently, she led a research piece on material passports as part of a wider Grosvenor Estate Innovation Project into material reuse. The outcome of this work is a methodology for encouraging more meaningful material reuse, by creating a material database for the project. The approach is deliberately open source and flexible, allowing design teams of any size or skill set to apply the work to their projects.Rachel is the recipient of the 2021 AJ100 Sustainability Champion AwardThis episode covers:What circular economy means for buildings Material passportsBuildings as Material Banks (BAMB)Building a culture of sustainabilityConsumerism and fast fashioned As you may have guessed, this episode is all about Circularity, also called Circular Economy. Rachel explains so clearly why reusing construction and building materials is so important, but also practically how to do it, with examples from her own work. We also talk about how Orms Architects are embedding sustainability in their work culture, which is fascinating. And we end with a discussion on consumerism, the fashion industry and how we need a change in mindset to live within the planet's boundaries.Follow the Green Urbanist:
George is an urban designer at Create Streets, working to create greener, happier and healthier communities. He believes that designers have a key role to play in safeguarding the long-term well-being of communities and our environment through design that recognizes the value of nature, local context and sustainable connectivity. He has a background in human geography and holds a Masters’ in urban design. George works closely with landowners, developers, councils and neighbourhood groups and has experience of working on masterplans for new settlements, urban extensions and brown field sites, at a range of scales both in the U.K. and abroad.Today's episode is all about masterplanning for sustainable places but also beautiful places. I do believe that there is a close connection between beauty and sustainability. Places that are attractive and desirable to be in will stand the test of time, will be preserved and adapted into the future. Whereas places that are ugly or inappropriate, like a lot of mid-century modernist tower blocks and estates, are much more likely to be torn down and replaced, which brings with it a huge waste of materials and carbon emissions.Follow the Green Urbanist:
This episode explains the concept of Doughnut Economics and explores how Amsterdam is using it in its post-Covid recovery.References: the Green Urbanist:
Watch a video of this episode on Conrad's YouTube channel:Conrad is a mobility and climate activist with an international academic and professional background in urban and transport planning, engineering and design across Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East. His experiences span the transport spectrum – he has worked on traditional infrastructure projects, such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) projects in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as well as on cutting-edge projects, like the RTA Big Data Platform Project in Dubai, UAE. He also lectures in Universities on a wide variety of transport engineering and ‘Future of Mobility’ topics. He is currently based in Cambodia.Conrad travels far and frequently, increasingly off the beaten track... shooting photographs and creating short videos telling the stories of different places, which he shares on his instagram account.Follow Conrad/Urban Dialectic: the Green Urbanist:
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