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Accepted paper:

Kipling Rooftop Garden: scaling water impacts for urban sustainability


Charlotte Johnson (University College London)
Sarah Bell (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

Small scale urbanism can be hard to recognise in some disciplinary perspectives and governance regimes. The co-design of a community garden offers a way to re-scale sustainability interventions that incorporates different forms of knowledge and legitimates community action on the built environment.

Paper long abstract:

The relationship between a city and its water system has provided anthropologists and geographers with material to reflect on urgent issues of the anthropocene from the nature of modernity (Gandy 2006, 2008) to the constitution of politics and its subjects (Anand 2011, 2012). Scale is key in these analyses enabling broad systemic change to be read from the minutia of pumps and pipes. This paper contributes to the debate by using scale not only as an interpretative tool to move from the local to the systemic, but as a methodological tool that supports local communities to produce systemic change.

We present the Kipling Garden project in central London, a collaboration between a residents' group and researchers designed to have a positive impact on London's water system. The residents wanted to turn a disused playground into a green space. The researchers were interested in the water impacts of this small-scale intervention, both positive impacts from reducing surface run off and local flooding, as well as negative impacts from increasing demand on potable water to irrigate the garden. The paper discusses the processes used, tools developed and outcomes from this bottom up approach to green infrastructure.

Small scale urbanism where local community groups work to make positive environmental changes can be hard to recognise from certain disciplinary perspectives and governance regimes. This paper explores how re-scaling sustainability interventions can be a way to incorporate different forms of knowledge and to legitimate community action on the built environment.

panel AN03
Ecology and the Anthropocene