This includes a deep understanding of our aspirations, quality of life and everyday mobilities (such as the movement of objects, people and ideas). Some of these factors may be in conflict with what urban designers and engineers are currently developing to promote a low-carbon, resource-secure lifestyle.
Their success or otherwise is dependent on society’s response and the degrees to which they deliver an acceptable quality of life (within the norms of wellbeing), do not dilute aspirations and do not disrupt the mobilities of people and objects. However, a mere understanding of this context is not enough: for decision-makers to implement ideas it is necessary to translate that understanding into criteria, guidelines, engineering and design briefs. This process of translation is critical to the success of urban design and engineering projects and has been identified as a deficiency in our ability to achieve success in the past, especially in the infrastructure and built environment of our cities.
Therefore, a most urgent challenge for our urban environments is to reconsider how we define cities, neighbourhoods and places, and to embrace an approach that balances conflicting demands.