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Retrofitting suburbia: Is the compact city feasible?

Rice, Louis


Louis Rice
Associate Professor in Architecture


This paper examines the role of retrofitting existing suburbs to deliver more sustainable lifestyles. The policy of intensification of existing urban and suburban areas, referred to as a 'compact city' strategy, has been promoted by the UK government and is linked to claims that higher density mixed-use areas promote more sustainable lifestyles. While the policy is normally considered at the 'strategic' level, it is at the local level that its effects are felt and realised. This research aimed to answer two questions: is it physically feasible to retrofit existing suburban areas? If so, do they deliver the claimed sustainability benefits? The research considered published recommendations for restructuring existing urban form. The project found that retrofitting the suburbs is feasible and viable at local level and, in some situations, can enable more sustainable lifestyles, in particular improved accessibility, social inclusion, and physical and mental health benefits.


Rice, L. (2010). Retrofitting suburbia: Is the compact city feasible?. Proceedings of the ICE - Urban Design and Planning, 163(4), 193-204.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2010
Journal Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Urban Design and Planning
Print ISSN 1755-0793
Electronic ISSN 1755-0807
Publisher Thomas Telford
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 163
Issue 4
Pages 193-204
Keywords sustainability, town, city planning, urban regeneration
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Additional Information Additional Information : Permission is granted by ICE Publishing to print one copy for personal use. Any other use of these PDF files is subject to reprint fees.


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