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The Innovation Futures Stream at Venturefest 2012 gave academics and TEDx speakers the chance to showcase their research and studies. We visited to watch the ‘Cities of the Future’ presentation, carried out by a number of Oxford Brookes University professors and researchers. The event was streamed live and can be watched now on the Venturefest webcast page.

Ray Ogden began with some interesting, and some scary, facts about the world’s population growth, ecological footprints and sustainability. This raises some questions about the way we live and how this will affect our future. By 2050 more than 70% of the global population will live in cities and one third of the UK’s total population lives in the ten largest urban areas. While urban growth isn’t a bad thing, in fact cities are a crucial part of this, in order to succeed in the future we need to get the architecture and technology of these big cities correct.

Professor Rajat Gupta focused on the low carbon transformation of UK housing. He argued that we need a change in the way that we generate and use energy. Our housing stock is in a poor state of energy efficiency and is becoming more of an issue day by day. As 75% of the housing stock we have will still exist in 2050, we need to find a way to make it more efficient. This poses a challenge as it needs to be large-scale, whole-house, cost-effective and rapid. Rajat suggests an area-based approach, bringing together energy modelling and spatial mapping with ‘DECoRuM‘. It identifies houses most in need of retrofitting and provides area-based information on optimum retrofit strategies, estimated costs, reductions in CO2 emissions and energy bills.

Chris Kendrick from the School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University talked about solar air heating for buildings and research into transpired solar collectors. These collectors are a form of solar heating as solar radiation heats the steel collector sheet and outside air is warmed as it passes through. Applied to large buildings they can reduce heating demand by 20-50% and have up to 50-70% efficiency. It works brilliantly in the UK – even with all the rain!

We wanted to catch the next talk in the Learning Stream so we didn’t get to see David Martell or Scott Cain take to the stage but their sections can be viewed on the webcast.

Extra reading:

  • DECoRuM – Read more about the DECoRuM project, its results and future possibilities.
  • Solar Wall – More information about Chris Kendrick’s research into transpired solar collectors.
  • The Future Cities Project – Set up to critically explore issues around the city.