Hydro-urbanism : reconfiguring the urban water-cycle in the lower Lea river basin, London
PublisherUniversity College London (University of London)
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This thesis explores how water infrastructures can be reconfigured in the urban environment to the advantage of human society in the future. It found actor-network theory co-evolutionary pathways between current material configurations and social practices for these reconfigurations. Material configurations include infrastructures, urban form, fixtures, fittings, and water types. Social practices, include existing behaviours, imagined behaviours, desires, and aspirations. This is an important question to answer because there are many places around the world, both in developed and developing countries that currently face inadequate water supplies to serve the needs of their ever growing populations, or conversely flooding due to extreme precipitation or sea level rise. The lower Lea river basin in London is one such area. The large scale engineering solutions of pipes and pumps to control water that have been the typical solution are reaching their limits therefore it is imperative to find other means to manage water in urban environments. This research used an actor-network theory co-evolution framework to understand the existing urban water-cycle, and to find areas of transformation in order to develop actor-network coevolutionary pathways for change. Interviews, group discussions and water diaries were used to investigate the existing conditions and anticipated future changes of both private citizens and water professionals. An iterative process of design synthesis and discussions were repeated twice to test and define the actor-network theory co-evolutionary pathways. This research stretches actor-network theory from its ethnographic beginnings into the realm of the future through design propositions. It found that there were two strongly favoured actor-network theory co-evolutionary pathways for reconfiguring the urban water-cycle in the lower Lea river basin. These were increasing freshwater productivity and transforming waste to resource. These create new water-cycle assemblages that offer advantages to people who face many, yet uncertain, types of water stress in the future.