Cover Page

Innovation in the Built Environment

Series advisors

alt Clare Eriksson, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Carolyn Hayles, University of Bath
Richard Kirkham, University of Manchester
Andrew Knight, Nottingham Trent University
Stephen Pryke, University College London
Steve Rowlinson, University of Hong Kong
Derek Thomson, Loughborough University
Sara Wilkinson, University of Technology, Sydney

Innovation in the Built Environment (IBE) is a book series for the construction industry published jointly by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and Wiley‐Blackwell. Books in the series address issues of current research and practitioner relevance and take an international perspective, drawing from research applications and case studies worldwide.

Innovation in the Built Environment:

  • presents the latest thinking on the processes that influence the design, construction and management of the built environment based on strong theoretical concepts and draws on both established techniques for analysing the processes that shape the built environment – and on those from other disciplines
  • embraces a comparative approach, allowing best practice to be put forward
  • demonstrates the contribution that effective management of built environment processes can make

Books in the IBE series

Akintoye & Beck: Policy, Finance & Management for Public‐Private Partnerships
Booth, et al.: Solutions for Climate Change Challenges in the Built Environment
Boussabaine: Risk Pricing Strategies for Public‐Private Partnerships
Kirkham: Whole Life‐Cycle Costing
London, et al.: Construction Internationalisation
Lu & Sexton: Innovation in Small Professional Practices in the Built Environment
Pryke: Construction Supply Chain Management: Concepts and Case Studies
Orstavik, et al.: Construction Innovation
Roper & Borello: International Facility Management
Senaratne & Sexton: Managing Change in Construction Projects: a Knowledge‐Based Approach
Wilkinson, et al.: Sustainable Building Adaptation

We welcome proposals for new, high quality, research‐based books which ARE Academically rigorous and informed by the latest thinking; please contact:

Viktoria Hartl‐Vida
Senior Editorial Assistant
John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Building Urban Resilience through Change of Use


Edited by

Sara J. Wilkinson

University of Technology, Sydney, Australia

Hilde Remøy

Delft University of Technology, Netherlands









About the Editors

Sara J. Wilkinson

Sara J. Wilkinson is an Associate Professor and at the University of Technology Sydney. She works at the intersections of sustainability, resilience, building adaptation and transformation. Her research aims to improve local, national and international outcomes of urban development in built environments in respect of the most pressing challenges of our time: climate change, energy and water use, and a growing, increasingly urbanised global population. Sara engages in trans‐disciplinary research with colleagues from science, health, business and technology as well as built environment disciplines. She is well published, with over 290 outputs. including books, research reports, and journal and conference papers. She contributes to the surveying profession through various national and international committees, accreditation and APC assessment.

Hilde Remøy

Hilde Remøy is Associate Professor in Real Estate Management at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment in the Department of Management in the Built Environment of Delft University of Technology. She followed an international educational and professional path in Norway, Italy, and the Netherlands, and obtained her PhD in Real Estate Management at Delft University of Technology. After her PhD on the theme of office vacancy and residential conversion as a means of coping, she is now teaching, researching and publishing on office market developments, and obsolescence, adaptation and conversion of offices and historic buildings in the Dutch and international contexts. Hilde is involved in research ranging from large‐scale European‐funded projects to contract research for Dutch practice, working with researchers and professionals of various disciplines and backgrounds.

Contributor Biographies

Hannah Baker
Hannah Baker is a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, UK, and part of the Future Infrastructure and Built Environment Centre for Doctoral Training, which is based in the Engineering department. Previously, she obtained degrees in architecture at the University of Cambridge and in Town Planning at the University of the West of England. She then worked for a research consultancy in Cambridge exploring risks associated with the built environment. Hannah’s PhD is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and she is using her multi‐disciplinary background to investigate the decision to demolish or adapt existing buildings on masterplan regeneration sites.

Rob Geraedts
Rob Geraedts is Associate Professor in Design and Construction Management in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Department of Management in the Built Environment, at Delft University of Technology. His present research focuses on the flexibility and adaptability of buildings, the flexibility of the design and construction process, the reuse and adaptation of vacant buildings into new functions, and ‘open building’ to meet the continuously and rapidly changing market and individual user demands. Since 1996 he has been an active member and scientific reviewer of CIB W104, Open Building Implementation.

Fred Hobma
Fred Hobma is associate professor of planning and development law at Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. He studied law (private and public) at Groningen State University and obtained his PhD from Delft University of Technology. Currently he is a staff member of the Department of Management in the Built Environment in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment. Dr Hobma teaches planning law and real estate law in undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate programs. He has written extensively on these topics. He has performed research for governments, advisory bodies, businesses and parliament.

Erwin Heurkens
Erwin Heurkens is Assistant Professor in Urban Development Management in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Department of Management in the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology. His focus is on the management of public–private partnerships, state–market relations, and sustainability in urban (re)development projects. Since his PhD on ‘Private sector‐led urban development projects’ (2012) a comparative international perspective has been key in his research. Erwin has co‐edited the books International Approaches to Real Estate Development (2015) and Routledge Companion to Real Estate Development (2018). He has published numerous scientific and professional journal articles focused on conceptualising and drawing lessons from urban development practices.

Gordon Holden
Gordon Holden is an architectural and urban design education leader, having initiated, structured and directed several programs across four universities in three countries. He is the initiator of Australia’s first Master’s program in urban design. He is the foundation head of architecture at Griffith University, Queensland and he is the 2010 recipient of the Australian Institute of Architects Award the ‘Neville Quarry Architectural Education Prize’ for outstanding leadership in architectural education. He researches, publishes and teaches in architectural and urban design history, theory and practice and he has a long‐standing interest in urban resilience.

Craig Langston
Craig Langston is rofessor of Construction and Facilities Management at Bond University. He has a combination of industry and academic experience spanning over 40 years. His research interests include measurement of sustainable development, adaptive reuse, life‐cycle costing and productivity. Professor Langston has held four Australian Research Council Linkage Project grants, amounting to nearly AUD$1 million in external competitive funding. He was also the recipient of the Vice Chancellor’s Quality Award (Research Excellence) at Bond University in 2010. He is an international author and has won a number of awards for his research including from Queensland, Australia and Asia‐Pacific Research Award in the project management discipline in 2016.

Alice Moncaster
Alice Moncaster is a senior lecturer at the Open University, UK, where she focuses on reducing the environmental impact of construction, working closely with industry to create real change. A first degree in engineering from the University of Cambridge and three years of earthquake engineering research at the University of Bristol were followed by ten years in industry as a civil and building structures engineer. She returned to academia in 2008 for an interdisciplinary PhD at the University of East Anglia, then built up a research group at the University of Cambridge where she became a lecturer in 2014.

Chris Riedy
Chris Riedy is Professor of Sustainability Governance at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney. He is a transdisciplinary academic with a career focus on governance for sustainable futures. Chris draws on sociological and political theory, futures thinking and transformative science to design, facilitate and evaluate practical experiments in transformative change towards sustainable futures. Chris is a Senior Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance project, and on the editorial boards of Futures and the Journal of Futures Studies. He has published two books, 38 peer‐reviewed articles or chapters, 56 research reports and hundreds of web articles.

Theo J.M. van der Voordt
Theo J.M. van der Voordt is Emeritus Associate Professor in Corporate and Public Real Estate Management at the Department of Management in the Built Environment, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology. His research includes new ways of working, performance measurement, transformation and adaptive reuse as a means to cope with structurally vacant office buildings, and adding value by corporate real estate, facilities and services. His research aims to develop and test theories on successful real estate strategies and tools to support decision‐making processes in practice.

Laura Wynne
Laura Wynne is a Senior Research Consultant with the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney. She conducts research projects in housing, urban sustainability, resilience and social change. Laura is an urban planner, and is interested in research that contributes to improving the health, resilience and sustainability of urban environvments. She has conducted research modelling peri‐urban food futures, understanding the impacts of urban renewal on low‐income communities, sustainable and regenerative models for development and on community engagement around sustainability.


Sara would like to thank Lindsay, Ted and Ruskin for their patience and support. She would like to thank her students and colleagues, who engage in dialogue, debate and action around the issues covered in this book, and of course, Chris, Laura, Hannah, Alice, Craig and Gordon for their contributions to this book.

Hilde would like to thank colleagues and students for input, especially all thesis students on topics related to adaptive reuse, and Erwin, Fred, Rob and Theo, who collaborated on this book. Thanks also to Jelle, for thoughtful advice and so much more.

Foreword: Resilience as a ‘Lens’ for Driving the Adaptive Capacity of Cities

Even though we are familiar with these mega trends, many of the chapters in this book startle with the magnitude and pace of urbanisation at the global scale. Progressing to the examination of the particular opportunities and pressures experienced by individual cities; some in decline, some subject to restructuring in a static or slow economy, some with rapid population and economic growth, it is made clear that there cannot be a simplistic template to address these challenges. How frustrating for universalists!

Perhaps more that anything, this variation reveals yet again how flawed the very notion of a singular ‘world’s best practice’ is, once the inherent contradiction of best practice being dependent on particular and unique responses to local conditions is recognised. How then are we to share experience and develop knowledge globally in the face of this paradox?

In contrast to the normalising pressures of globalisation, the emerging framework of ‘resilience’ provides a way of approaching the challenges faced by cities in a way that places human values front and centre, while still allowing commonalities and differences to be perceived and mapped. In this way it can be seen at least as an alternative, if not a counter and resistance to globalising forces that work to deny and erase these differences.

Despite the disparate origins of the idea of resilience – in engineering, material science, infrastructure, psychology and ecology – there is an emerging coherent conception that draws on all of these to identify a number of common characteristics of resilient systems. Rather than attempting to create a single definition, the formulation, definition and application of ideas of resilience can itself be seen as a complex emergent system: open ended, resulting from discussions with multifarious starting points, but grounded in disaster and emergency.

Haven’t we been here before? Critics of sustainability often dismissed it on the basis of being a ‘contested’ notion where there was not a universally agreed definition or a simple ‘sustainability for dummies’ manual to implement it, in every place, in every situation. The absence of a single definition, let alone a universal methodology, provided a basis for ‘sustainability’ to be dismissed by those in whose interest it has been to continue (unsustainable) business as usual.

As the effects of the continuation of unsustainable practice become more apparent and less contested, so the idea of ‘resilience’ has found a firm footing in the shared and acute appreciation the public has of both natural and human disasters. The clear and present danger of the effects of climate change are not as easily dismissed as the unfair characterisation of ‘sustainability’ being a nebulous, and therefore dispensable concept. The ‘inconvenient truths’ of climate change – extreme weather, increasing inequality, the spectre of health and infrastructure collapse – serve as sturdier fulcrums for leveraging broader discussions about ‘resilience’ than was available to ‘sustainability’. These are unavoidable discussions that people want to have.

However, the conception of resilience by a wide range of theorists and organisations goes well beyond instrumental disaster preparedness and emergency management. In many of the chapters, there is also a hint that resilience cannot be easily or satisfactorily reduced to a ‘risk’ that actuaries can monetize and financialise. It delves deeper into social relations and authenticity, memories and collaboration; values that are not easily tractable to monetisation. In other words, the city seen through the lens of resilience sees a degree of loose‐fit, redundancy, indeterminacy as a virtue, not a vice or weakness. This is entirely consistent with our understanding of the necessary characteristics of adaptive systems, and quite different the brittleness of a city that is ‘fined‐tuned’ to eke out the vestigial capacity in every urban system – land, transport, utilities – in the name of ‘efficiency’. The point is that in many developed cities, we can afford to have a degree of looseness, not every space has to be filled, not every system has to be operating at 99%.

From this perspective also, the idea of ‘long life, loose fit low energy’ can be extended from the individual building to the entire city. The whole city, as well as individual precincts and buildings, can be seen as an artifact that has the potential to be re‐inhabited, re‐used, re‐purposed in different ways. From this perspective the entire material form of the city, both the public and private domain, can be seen as legacy ‘infrastructure’ that questions ownership and control (by who, for whom) and the need for reform or alternative approaches to regulatory, institutional and financial arrangements, as is identified in a number of the chapters.

Stepping aside from the purely ‘functionalist’ view of the city that such reform would involve, means that the city can be seen not simply in a material sense but also as the concretisation of innumerable collaborative and entrepreneurial efforts. The revealing of these values, obscured and ignored by functionalism, invites new modes of sharing and the development of new systems and arrangement enabled by information technology. In other words, considering the adaptation of the existing through the lens of resilience, is in essence writing an alternative ‘functional brief’ for information technology.

Perhaps most tellingly, and dauntingly for design and planning, seeing the city as an adaptive system, investigated and understood through the process of examining its resilience, is the question of whether we can consciously design and plan for increased adaptive capacity as the primary objective in city making.

We have moved from the ‘desirability’ of sustainability to the ‘necessity’ of resilience.

Roderick Simpson
Registered Architect 5868
Environment Commissioner
Greater Sydney Commission