Michael Mehaffy will lecture on “SUSTAINABLE URBAN FORM: The Modern Structure of Walkable Cities”. The lecture will take place at Department of Architecture of University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, on Tuesday May 10th at 6.00pm. The event, partnered by Glasgow City Council and the Sustainable Glasgow Initiative, will be opened by the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Professor Scott MacGregor, and introduced by Richard Billingham of Sustainable Glasgow Initiative.

“Sustainability” is a dangerously vague term.  At its heart it is the common-sense idea that we should be able to carry on developing a prosperous and healthy civilisation, free of decline or calamity.  But in practice, we are learning that we must certainly not “carry on” as usual. To meet the challenges of the future, we must change our ways of doing business.  And we must begin to be very concrete about what that means.

Increasingly, the challenges of the future will play out in cities, where increasing numbers of the Earth’s population now live.  New evidence shows that the form in which we build and rebuild cities plays a much larger role than we had realized in resource use, carbon emissions and other “metrics” of sustainability.   Michael Mehaffy’s work at the University of Strathclyde is focussed upon one aspect of this problem, the crucial interface between the scale of vehicular mobility (like that of cars, lorries and trains) and the scale of pedestrian activity within a neighborhood.  This work carries important practical consequences for the design of viable streets and neighbourhoods.

In his lecture, Mehaffy will draw comparisons to a number of cities around the world that are seeking to restore the balance between the scale of the pedestrian and that of the vehicle.  One of these will be his home town of Portland, Oregon, where he works with the Portland Sustainability Institute.  He will consider lessons for the City of Glasgow and the work of its new Sustainable Glasgow initiative, on which he is collaborating.