Geography Suburban Space Introduction

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  • The widespread perception of suburbia as synonymous with social and architectural homogeneity belies its spatial, social, ethnic and economic diversity. With pressure to build large numbers of new homes increasing there is a real danger that such a perception becomes self-fulfilling. Avoiding such an outcome is not simply a challenge for recently planned settlements. The critical question concerns the extent to which existing suburbs can adapt for future growth. There is an urgent need for scholars and planners to recognise how suburbia contains a great variety of distinctive places for living and working. Such an improved understanding of suburban settlements must be grounded in historically informed research into the process through which the suburbs became absorbed into urban networks and their emerging position within increasingly complex, multi-scaled urban regions. The papers presented in this session intend to move the debate forward by proposing that historical suburban settlements raise fundamental socio-spatial issues that require sustained collaboration between a range of disciplinary fields, including geography, history, architecture, urban design and planning, before they can be properly understood and addressed. The session will create a forum for discussing these issues as part of the emerging field of suburban studies.


  • 1. The Geography of Suburban Space Mordechai (Muki) Haklay & Laura Vaughan
  • 2. The Geography of Suburban Space
    • Overcoming perceptions of social and architectural homogeneity.
    • Questions of adaptability for future growth.
    • Research into growth and absorption.
    • Emerging field of suburban studies.
  • 3. The Geography of Suburban Space
    • Towards an historical-geographical theory of suburban space. Mordechai (Muki) Haklay, Laura Vaughan, Kate Jones & Sam Griffiths (University College London).
    • Increasing density in mature suburbs: character, resistance, and quality? Nick Morton & Peter. J Larkham (Birmingham City University).
    • Living in an oasis: middle-class disaffiliation in the London suburbs. Paul Watt (Birkbeck, University of London).
    • Adapting suburbs: the impacts of culture-led regeneration on English suburban towns. Felicity Paynter (Queen Mary, University of London)
    • Retrofitting Suburbia: navigating from generic to specific. Darryl Chen, Liam Young (Tomorrow's Thoughts Today, Think Tank)