Urbanie & Urbanus

Issue 2021 Dec


Issue 6, P.79 - P.101

Reimagining Heath Park - A complex systems approach to urban re- generation

Ian Bentley

Dip. Arch, Dip. UD

and  Prachi Rampuria

B.Arch (Hons.), MAUD (Dist.)
Director, EcoResponsive Environments Ltd


This paper presents a newly-developed complex-systems approach to urban regeneration, and demonstrates its feasibility in practice through a live regeneration project which is focused between the limits of a ‘social foundation’ that supports immediate health and wellbeing, and an ‘ecological ceiling’ that supports the long-term survival of our species. To achieve this focus, the approach considers built environments as complex systems; built up from nested subsystems - landform, water system, green system, public linkage system, plots and buildings - which must be designed with mutually positive interactions, so that the whole becomes more than the sum of its parts.

The paper explains the use of this process in some detail, and shows that it has proved itself in practice, both as an effective working process and in terms of its design outputs. Project’s natural capital accounting demonstrates a significant gain in ecosystem services, both for the site and for the wider region. In terms of financial performance, current feasibility analysis suggests that the project will prove attractive to ethical investors. The quality of the outcome has been recognised at government level as one of 35 ‘Green Innovation’ schemes selected for the UK’s Global Investment Atlas and showcased through the ‘Global Investment Summit’ in London in October 2021.