Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Construction Management and Economics
For a Special Issue on
Grand challenges facing our cities: where construction management research meets the urban field
01 December 2021
01 May 2022
Grand challenges facing our cities: where construction management research meets the urban field
Across the world, urban environments of all sizes and development stages require to engage with the current and future grand societal challenges, and for this to be achieved more integrated development approach are needed. In response, urban policy makers, planners and designers need to work together with property developers and construction professionals to plan and manage the adaption of our cities to become more resilient, regenerative, mitigate and adapt in response to the climate emergency, reduce pollution levels (water, air, land, noise etc), green our cities, embrace circularity and resource efficiency, advance their connectivity, diversify economically and embrace change as part of the digital and technological revolution. This needs to be achieved whilst responding to demographic change, improving health outcomes, elevating poverty and promoting social justice and wellbeing. Cities are being asked to transition to a new future framed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG’s) which seeks to promote a sustainable future through a just transition sparking debate around what this should look like in practice. The COVID19 pandemic provides an important opportunity to consider how this transition can be framed as we seek to bounce back and presenting questions as to the extent that we embrace this new sustainable future. The urban development process is therefore a key focus, with recognition emerging that urban professionals (planners, designers) need to work closer with the developers and construction industry in order to respond to these grand challenges. The construction industry is recognised as one of the key enablers to delivering transformational change and its management sits within the wider urban development process as it is recognised to have been slow to respond in both developed and developing countries. This requires urban stakeholders (governance, civic and business leaders, financiers and insurance sectors, residents, users and community groups, as well as urban planners and designers, and built environment professionals related to the construction industry) to respond by working more collaboratively, adapting and changing their processes, practices and the culture which surrounds the management of our urban environments.
This transition is a significant challenge to embrace rapidly for all cities as they seek to balance socio-economic drivers for development and growth, with the need to achieve this in a sustainable, fair and just way. A holistic approach is required which is dependent on joined-up thinking and collaboration between all urban stakeholders. The last two decades have seen calls for a more integrated approach to the urban development process and a need to move away from silo thinking between sectors and in professional practice. Over a decade ago, the UK’s Constructing Excellence (2009) published the Never Waste a Good Crisis report outlining the need for construction policy, process management, and professional practice to focus on the built environment rather than purely the construction process. This mirrored many debates during this time by the likes of Raymond Cole (2012), William Rees (2006), who called for a more system based, multi scale and interdisciplinary approach to the urban and built environment both in policy, professional practice and through scholarship in order to ensure we begin asking the right questions to address the grand societal challenges faced by our cities. The COVID19 pandemic has again thrown into the spotlight interconnections between the urban and building levels in ways we could have only previously imagined as we have very rapidly grappled with social distancing and changes in the way society has used both its public spaces, and shifted its work-life balance from offices to home spaces. The implications on our urban planning and construction markets will not be known immediately, but have vast implications for those engaged in urban disciplines as well as construction management researchers. This highlights the call for scholars in related urban and built environment disciplines, and those engaged in construction and its management, to foster a common or shared understanding and perspective, and to explore together potential for joint research and scholarship to help navigate an increasingly complex and interconnected world.
Aim of the special issue:
Construction Management and Economics has a tradition of promoting research which seeks to make itself open to authors who actively drawn on theoretical and methodological approaches informed by other disciplines with a view of advancing the contribution and reach of construction management research and its development as a discipline. The aim of this special issue is to take this further, and to act as a bridge between construction management and the other urban disciplines to facilitate conversations around shared research questions, theoretical and methodological approaches, and to evidence existing collaborations which seek to address the grand societal challenges facing our urban environments. The parameters of this special issue seek to be broad as we encourage conversation, exploring new and existing domains where there are synergies, however clear evidence is required in the development of the paper over where the disciplines are combining and informing the research. Some indicative topics are included to provide steerage.
Indicative topics include:
In addressing various (sustainable) transitions, how can we bring together the communities of construction management and urban researchers to address multi-level perspectives and challenges?
Examples of the themes related to urban transition which respond to the grand challenges:
o Sustainable transitions
o Zero carbon cities and buildings
o Urban resilience (physical resilience: infrastructure and buildings)
o Urban resilience (societal resilience)
o Design of climate sensitive neighbourhoods and buildings
o Urban regeneration (programmes and management)
o Planning and delivering rapid urban expansion
o Circular economy
o Smart cities and digital construction
o Urban retrofit and adaption
o Poverty reduction and equity
o Safety and surveillance
o Just transition
o Foresighting and future proofing our urban and built environment
o Lived experience and health for residents
o Promotion of lifecycle thinking and living (urban, building and material)
o Governance, politics and funding
o Strategic niche management in context of projects
o Regime change
o And more (not an exhaustive list)
Questions to consider:
• Multi-projects and project ecologies: Parallel developments can be found in project studies going wild. What are the implications of shifting the framing away from the singular building to multiple buildings, and further to the contextual? How will this impact on the structures that govern the production of the built environment in the urban field, and change the ways agents operate? How can construction management in research and practice look beyond a single project perspective and seek to understand where and how these projects sit in the wider urban system?
• What are the conversations that are required to better bridge the gap between the aspirations of our urban planners and the opportunities presented by the market dynamics and demands?
• What is the role of the government in shaping both urban development plans and construction markets in a shared vision?
• How can the context of delivering a construction project be better reflected in the urban development process? Can we aid an awareness of these issues in the scholarship and practice of our urban planners and designers?
• Viva versa to this, how can the construction management scholar and practitioner learn from urban planning and designers and ensure their perspective is reflected fostering a better understanding of the rationale behind urban planning and design decisions and their influence on construction projects?
• How can we ensure that foresighting for urban futures reflects a mutual engagement with stakeholders from urban and construction professions?
• Scaling up the retrofit of individual buildings, placing the building level in the context of the city
• Embracing the circular economy has significant implications at both urban and building project level, so how can we foster joint conversations through a multi-scale lens (urban mining, material selection, retrofit, waste management etc)?
• What are the potential pitfalls of the sustainable city, and how can we avoid these through collaborative research?
• How do we reconceptualise the field of construction management research, taking into account spatial concerns (e.g. local, regional, national, global)?
• How can we reconceptualise urban transition research to better take account of the construction market and process management?
• What novel methodologies and methodological tools can we develop by connecting construction management and urban researchers? How can we broaden our repertoire of techniques given developments in (urban) living laboratories?
• How do we use the same theory in different ways, and can we learn from each other?
• How do we bring politics into the conversations of construction going urban? How are power relations changing, especially given developments in the digital space? How do we address the dark side of digital transformation in designing, constructing and managing smart cities?
• How can we understand and address the connections and contradictions between transforming construction processes and urban transformations
• What is the impact of COVID19 going to be longer term on our use of the urban and built environment? Questions sit around the impact on city centres (retail and office and public space), housing with increased workspaces, and the implications on construction market and the industry.
The special issue seeks a variety of paper types, ranging from viewpoint and review papers, theoretical, methodological and also empirical research. These seek to feed into a conversation around how urban disciplines and construction management can benefit better from each others understanding and perspectives in an attempt to guide a more collaborative environment which can help us respond to the grand challenges faced by our cities globally.
• Call published: Beginning September 2021
• Key Note Session at ARCOM Conference (www.arcom.ac.uk): 7 September 2021
• Extended abstracts due 1 December 2021
• Feedback to authors due 31 January 2022
• First submission: 1 May 2022
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