Research Seminars

We are pleased to announce a series of online seminars for Summer Term 2020. 

LSE Cities holds research seminars for LSE and non-LSE researchers and academics to present their work on cities and the ways in which people and cities interact in a rapidly urbanising world, focusing on how the physical form and design of cities impacts on society, culture and the environment.

Seminars and free and open to all but require pre-registration. 

If you would like to attend any of the seminars please sign up via the individual links.

Upcoming Seminars 

20.06.04-research-Seminar J0-Beall

Governance and Hybridity in Urban Service Delivery: Decentralised Sanitation in Addis Ababa 

Thursday 4 June | 1.00 - 2.00pm

Speaker: Jo Beall, Emeritus Professor and Distinguished Research Fellow


This seminar will explore the governance of decentralised sanitation infrastructure on the edge of the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Employing the concept of ‘infrastructure interfaces’ as an analytical lens to identify the key material connection points that determine how and why sanitation provision works in the way that it does, the seminar will scrutinise the practices, actors, and governance arrangements occurring at these critical junctures in decentralised sanitation provision.

This seminar builds on research exploring informally-developed solutions to pragmatic problems and bureaucratic challenges intrinsic to post-networked urban services. In Addis Ababa, hybrid governance emerged organically in response to heterogenous infrastructure configurations and the shortcomings of state delivery. This discussion will consider the long-term sustainability of decentralised sanitation systems and the need for state recognition and funding of the people and materials that connect and maintain these systems. 


AlexGomes - photo2

Public space in Kuwait: challenges and opportunities for research and practice

Thursday 11 June | 1.00 - 2.00pm

Speaker: Alexandra Gomes, Research Officer, LSE Cities


Kuwait’s population is rapidly expanding. Accommodating this growth will be a challenge for the small emirate, whose current urbanisation patterns privilege high levels of motorisation and neglect adequate public space. Sustainable urban development will be essential for individual health and the environment. 

Join the research team for a discussion on the Public space in Kuwait project. The project explores the impact that planning, design, and behavioural factors have on the use of public space through a comparative case study of two local streets in Kuwait’s residential neighbourhoods.

As we near the end of this research, this session will aim not only to present the project’s key findings, but also to instigate a virtual round-table conversation on the challenges and opportunities for current and future urban public space research and practice in Kuwait.


The Future of workplace  747x560

The future of Clustering: Lessons from innovation clusters and the modern workplace

Thursday 18 June | 1.00 - 2.00pm

Speaker: Kyriaki (Katie) Kasabalis, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture and Urban + Environmental Planning, University of Virginia, and Visiting Senior Fellow, LSE Cities


This research seminar will begin in the pre-COVID-19 world and will discuss how innovation clusters became a model of urbanism that is truly global in scope. The  seminar will examine these clusters not as economic concentrations, but as complicated spatial conditions that have a direct impact on our wellbeing and collective identities. Katie will discuss the increasing number of public-private partnerships, the development of digital campuses, and the proliferation of co-working spaces. The seminar will draw insights from field work conducted in nine cities across the US, Europe, and East Asia, and it will specifically focus on case studies in Silicon Valley (California) and One North District (Singapore). The seminar will then discuss how these models relate to current redevelopment efforts in London.

While this most recent “workplace revolution” was predominately led by rapid advances in information technology, the next wave will be fast-tracked by the recent emergence of Covid-19. Moving forward, what will be the future of the workplace, and how will our cities evolve? The research seminar will conclude by speculating on how an increased emphasis on wellbeing, design, and public benefits could trigger a new typology of innovation clusters.

Kyriaki (Katie) Kasabalis is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Architecture and Urban + Environmental Planning at the University of Virginia and Visiting Senior Fellow, LSE Cities. She is Design Director of Kasawoo, an interdisciplinary design practice, and co-founder of Future Current, an experimental platform for creatives to connect and collaborate over food. 



Towards a flood resilient future 747x560

Towards a flood resilient future

To be rescheduled in autumn 2020

Speaker: Edward Barsley, Founder and Director, The Environmental Design Studio

Location: FAW.9.05, 9th Floor Fawcett House, Clement’s Inn, WC2A 2AZ

While many programmes and publications warn of the threat of climate change, few discuss viable spatial strategies for adaptation. This talk will set out the causes and consequences of flooding and examine ways in which built and natural environments can be adapted to this threat. Barsley will draw on his recently released RIBA publication, ‘Retrofitting for Flood Resilience: A Guide to Building & Community Design', which showcases flood risk adaptation strategies at various scales, as well as good practice case studies from around the world. The seminar will explore how to better understand flood risk and highlight key approaches for developing community and property flood resilience.

Ed Barsley is Founder and Director of 'The Environmental Design Studio' (TEDS), an award winning design-research led practice. He is a specialist in environmental design in architecture, with a particular interest in developing strategies to improve the resilience of communities and the built environment. 


Past Seminars



Slowing the smart city 747x560

Slowing the smart city

Thursday 5 March | 12.30 - 2.00pm

Speaker: Alison Powell, Assistant Professor in Media and Communications, Director of MSc Data & Society, LSE
Location: FAW.9.05, 9th Floor Fawcett House, Clement’s Inn, WC2A 2AZ

The 'smart city' promises an urban optimization, a seamless integration of human and machine intelligence. Such promises of 'smartness' have become a global phenomenon, a reconstruction of urban incoherence into seamless frameworks of prediction. This talk traces a history and proposes futures for urban 'smartness' using research from citizen activism using 'smart city' network, data, and sensors to outline strategies for undoing optimization. These include investigating hybridizing knowledge between humans, other living beings and 'smart' technologies, and regenerative practices of solidarity experienced through friction. Through stories of wireless hackers, beekeepers, feral cows, data scientists, and urban foxes, the seminar digs into the influence of techno-systemic frames for strategies of resistance and suggests new ways forward.

Alison Powell is Assistant Professor in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Programme Director of the MSc in Data & Society. Her research examines how people’s values influence the way technology is built. Alison experiments with participatory and public engagement methods to investigate how we generate knowledge about technology, citizenship, and our futures.


Autonomous mobility on demand: a solution to the urban gridlock?

Thursday 6 February | 12.30 - 2.00pm

Speaker: Andreas Herrmann, Professor of Marketing, Director of the Institute of Customer Insight, University of St.Gallen, Switzerland, and Visiting Professor, LSE Cities.
Location: FAW.9.05, 9th Floor Fawcett House, Clement’s Inn, WC2A 2AZ

Self-driving vehicles could become a reality in cities worldwide in the next few decades. Many cities will embrace AVs because they have the potential to help solve multiple pressing challenges. But how the technology plays out will be shaped by the specific characteristics of each city and its mobility ecosystem. While some cities will gain significant benefits by introducing AVs, others will fare better by pursuing other mobility options.

To examine how AVs will affect different cities, and influence their urban mobility ecosystems, the University of St. Gallen and BCG conducted a one-year study based on a qualitative and quantitative methodological approach as well as existing in-depth knowledge on shared, autonomous mobility. Andreas Herrmann will discuss the study’s methodology and key findings and the implications for cities of embracing or failing to prepare for the advent of AVs.

Andreas Herrmann is Professor of Marketing and Director of the Institute of Customer Insight at the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland. He is also a Visiting Professor at LSE Cities. His main research interests are Marketing Management and Behavioural Economics.







Where two roads meet: urban policy in Haringey and the Bronx

Click here to view presentation slides

Thursday 5 December | 12.30 - 2.00pm

Speaker: Glyn Robbins, LSE Visiting Fellow, Department of Sociology
Location: FAW.9.05, 9th Floor Fawcett House, Clement’s Inn, WC2A 2AZ

Tottenham High Road in Haringey and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx share several key characteristics. They both run through working-class, economically-deprived, ethnically-diverse neighbourhoods currently subject to large-scale urban regeneration projects. Each area also features a mega-sports stadium (the new ground of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in Haringey and Yankee Stadium in the Bronx).

In both places, large scale urban interventions are seeking to achieve significant, lasting improvements to the socio-economic and physical infrastructure by building thousands of new homes and associated amenities targeted at attracting a new demographic.

This session will examine the impact on each area and address the extent of converging UK/US urban policies, particularly as articulated by the respective city mayors. A subsidiary purpose of the research will be to consider the extent to which the presence of a corporate sports franchise/team is influencing changing policy and perceptions.

Glyn Robbins is an LSE Visiting Fellow in the Sociology Department. He has been a housing worker, campaigner and academic for nearly 30 years. He has a particular interest in comparative UK/US housing and urban policy.



Navigating the language of systems thinking for Sustainable Living Places

Thursday 21 November | 12.30 - 2.00pm

Speaker: Dr. Corina Shika Kwami, Policy Advisor at the Royal Academy of Engineering
Location: FAW.9.05, 9th Floor Fawcett House, Clement’s Inn, WC2A 2AZ

Rising demand for housing has not been met over recent decades, which is a symptom of complex systemic problems. Addressing these systemic problems requires working across planning, networked utilities (water, energy, gas), public services (transport, mobility, education, health) and other systems involved in delivering cities, towns and communities. Critical to effective working is developing a language that brings stakeholders to the table. 

This session will highlight the challenges and opportunities in developing a common language through a case study, Sustainable Living Places, on housing commissioned by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) and led by the Royal Academy of Engineering. Using an example of how systems thinking and mapping techniques were applied in an affordable housing scheme, the session will facilitate dialogue on the pitfalls and opportunities that working across stakeholder groups present.

Dr. Corina Shika Kwami is a Policy Advisor at the Royal Academy of Engineering leading the 'Sustainable Living Systems' project, which brings together key stakeholders across housing and infrastructure delivery.


A Compact City for the Wealthy 747x560

A compact city for the wealthy: gentrification and employment accessibility inequalities in London

Click here to view presentation slides

Date: Thursday 7 November | 12.30 - 2.00pm

Speakers: Duncan Smith, lecturer at the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, UCL
LocationFAW.8.01H, LSE Cities, 8th Floor Fawcett House, Clement’s Inn, WC2A 2AZ

The prevalence of gentrification processes in many cities points to increasingly wealthy inner-city areas and potentially greater population segregation by income. This research investigates changes in the residential geography of London in the last decade primarily using occupational class data, finding continuing gentrification in Inner London and increasing concentrations of lower-income classes in Outer London. The employment accessibility impacts of these changes are then modelled, highlighting advantages for professional classes, and weaker accessibility for low income classes by the most affordable and sustainable transport modes. Planning policy measures to address these challenges include significant increases in council housing development and major improvements in transit connections in Outer London.

Duncan Smith is a lecturer at the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, UCL. His research interests are in GIS, urban planning, transport sustainability and visualisation, and he has previously worked at LSE Cities and in transport consultancy. Current research projects include the ESRC SIMITRI grant, exploring polycentric urban development and segregation in the Pearl River Delta Megacity Region, China.



Urban Science with a view from space: dynamics, dimensions and forms of global urbanization

Date: Thursday 12 September | 12.00 - 1.30pm

Speaker: Dr. Hannes Taubenböck, German Aerospace Center (DLR) and visiting fellow, LSE Cities
Location: Room 32L.B.07, 32 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PH

The largest migration movement that humanity has ever undertaken is in full swing: from the countryside to cities. New cities are emerging. Existing cities are merging into megaregions with more than 70 million inhabitants. Slums grow into the remaining open spaces. Although mankind is in the information age, there are large gaps in knowledge regarding these urban phenomena.

In this workshop, Hannes Taubenböck of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will make the physical transformation of urban landscapes tangible by looking from above - with remote sensing data from space. Through the analysis of satellite data, it is possible to document the sprawling urban growth in a global comparison and thus identify the emergence and dimensions of megaregions or even localise areas of urban poverty. The seminar will also show how existing gaps in knowledge can be closed with Big Earth Data in order to make the effects of urbanisation processes on the planet tangible.

Dr. Hannes Taubenböck heads a working group at the Earth Observation Center of the German Aerospace Center that deals with the global city and its society. He also teaches at the Institute of Geography at the University of Würzburg. Fascinated by the view from space, which can create a distanced view of clarity, he deals with documenting and understanding the increasingly dynamic urban transformation processes on our planet.