Cities are continually evolving in response to economic, social and environmental drivers. Globalisation is accelerating this process and cities which are unable to respond may quickly lose their purpose and vitality. In a UK context, many cities have areas that developed during the Industrial Revolution or post World War II to deliver activities that are no longer relevant at such a physical scale. These areas are now opportunities for regeneration or change of use, in essence ‘rezoning’. Whilst globalisation can be considered as the major disruptor to the vitality of a city it is by no means an isolated event. There are an ever increasing number of smaller, often technology-led disruptors that have emerged following the expansion of the Internet such as UBER, Airbnb, Deliveroo, Amazon and Netflix. In parallel, cities need to accommodate an ageing population and address the predicted climate change led challenges such as greater intensity and frequency of flooding and heatwaves.
Civil engineering delivers the hard infrastructure such as transport which may lock a city into a defined path for decades. An important skill therefore for the modern civil engineer is the ability to understand the challenges and opportunities that exist at the city scale and use this understanding to develop contextual solutions (systems design). This sits at the core of Liveable Cities, how do we shape cities to create the places people want to live, work and play in?