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Mechanicity is a research programme at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (part of University College London’s Bartlett School of Planning) aimed at investigating the changing shape of cities, exploring how they use energy, and modelling their impact upon the environment.  It is funded as a European Research Council Advanced Award and runs from July 2010 to June 2015.

The programme proposal, interim report and final report are available here:

Programme Objectives

The programme has a number of goals:

Research Strands

Mechanicity’s research comes under seven broad headings, although it must be noted there is a degree of overlap between some of these:

Background to the research

Despite half a century of sustained research into the structure of cities, we still cannot answer the most basic questions of how their morphology is affected by the energy and income of their populations. We do not know if cities will become more compact or more spread out as energy usage changes due to global warming and as we switch to renewable energy sources.

What we need is much more robust theory with applicable computer models for forecasting such impacts. Many of the rudiments involving agglomeration economics, growth theory, trade, nonlinear dynamics, and fractal geometry have already been put in place with the complexity sciences providing a framework for this new social physics. But so far, energy has been strangely absent. Here we will embrace this role, thus generating theory and models able to address what cities will look like if current predictions of climate change are borne out.