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Working with Infrastructural Communities: A Material Participation Approach to Urban Retrofit

Johnson, C; Bell, S; Borrion, A; Comber, R; (2020) Working with Infrastructural Communities: A Material Participation Approach to Urban Retrofit. Science, Technology and Human Values 10.1177/0162243920916235. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Retrofit is a rising area of concern for STS scholars of infrastructure. This paper sits at the junction between applied and theoretical approaches by using STS to support interventions in urban infrastructure systems and expand STS critique of retrofit. It discusses findings from a multidisciplinary project piloting retrofit possibilities to positively impact the way water, energy and food resources were consumed in a London housing estate. Through qualitative research, we found that residents were making social and material interventions in infrastructure systems to manage the way resources were consumed at home, driven by a commonly held motivation to avoid wastefulness. We then mapped the social and material factors that helped or hindered these individual ambitions and used them to inform our co-design process. We found it helpful to think of the residents as an infrastructural community; a group of residents that share a material connection that can help mobilize collective action on shared consumption. We suggest this concept is useful for interventions and critiques of infrastructure retrofit, particularly in cities in the global north where retrofit programs aim to rescale national systems to neighborhood levels. The concept highlights the possibilities for participation that emerge from bottom up retrofit.

Type: Article
Title: Working with Infrastructural Communities: A Material Participation Approach to Urban Retrofit
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0162243920916235
Publisher version: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/sth
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Consumption, Material participation, Sustainable design, urban sustainability, Water-Energy-Food nexus, retrofit, infrastructure, STS
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10094106
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