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Cambridge Centre for Housing & Planning Research


Dr Gemma Burgess, Director of CCHPR, is a Co-Investigator on the £72m Construction Innovation Hub, a partnership between the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB), the Building Research Establishment (BRE), and the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).

The Centre for Digital Built Britain is a partnership between the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the University of Cambridge to deliver a smart digital economy for infrastructure and construction for the future and transform the UK construction industry’s approach to the way we plan, build, maintain and use our social and economic infrastructure.

As part of the Construction Innovation Hub, the Centre for Digital Built Britain is working with four leading University of Cambridge academics, Dr Gemma Burgess, Prof. Michael Barrett, Dr Ajith Parlikad and Dr Mohamed Zaki, to coordinate, collaborate and champion a national, multidisciplinary research community. Announcing the funding in 2018, Business and Industry Minister Richard Harrington stressed the importance of the Construction Innovation Hub in galvanising the UK construction sector to revolutionise infrastructure through digitisation and innovation, and, through industry-wide collaboration, to transform the way buildings and infrastructure are designed, manufactured, integrated and connected within the built environment.

For more details, visit the CDBB website and the Construction Innovation Hub website.

Beyond Smart Cities

In June 2022, Dr Richmond Juvenile Ehwi and Dr Hannah Holmes presented their work on smart city governance at the ‘Beyond Smart Cities Today: Power, Justice and Resistance’ Conference. The dynamics of urban governance which lead to the selection of specific areas of focus for smart city initiatives. It draws upon semi-structured interviews with council officers, local politicians, and others with a knowledge of smart city governance across seven cities in England. The research highlights how the arrangements of governance embedded in these cities – and where smart city governance sits within the overall local governance structure – shapes the smart city, not least through influencing the types of initiatives which are selected. It considers how the decision-making process in the selection of areas of focus is variously centred around existing city services; is understood as pragmatic; emerges from urban entrepreneurialism, and is driven by national and global policy agendas and events. Case study details are drawn upon to highlight how specific local circumstances and approaches to governance lead to the development of smart initiatives in locally contingent ways. How smart cities are governed, who is involved in this governance, and how and why particular agendas for local smart city initiatives emerge have clear implications for urban justice.




Levelling up and the Modernisation of the Construction Industry in the UK: Geographies of the Offsite Construction of Housing, at the ENHR Conference

Dr Hannah Holmes gave a presentation on the geographies of offsite construction in the UK. The presentation, which is based on research co-authored with Dr Gemma Burgess, examined the potential implications of an increased use of offsite construction for spatial inequalities. 


Read the presentation here

Smart city governance and the ethical dimension of smart city decision-making in Cambridge, UK

Dr Sabina Maslova presented findings from CCHPR's research into the ethics of smart city governance at the European Urban Research Association 2022 Conference in Milan, on 17 June 2022. 



Customer experience in the housebuilding industry: the post-occupancy evaluation of MMC-delivered homes in the social housing sector

Dr Sabina Maslova's report provides important insights into the role that post-occupancy evaluation (POE) and customer experience play in the social housing sector. It explores the feedback loop from the residents of occupied homes that were built with MMC through to the housebuilding supply chain, and examines the barriers to effective POE that would otherwise inform the design and construction of future homes.

The report calls for cross-functional teams to drive the transition to effective POE and for greater collaboration across the industry.

Ethically making Smart Cities

The Centre for Digital Built Britain has published a blog by CCHPR researchers, based on their recently published paper, The ethical underpinnings of Smart City governance: Decision-making in the Smart Cambridge Programme, UK. The blog explores the crucial ethical issues faced by decisionmakers involved in creating Smart Cities, and calls for attention to be paid to the moral nuances behind decisions.

Looking beyond the law is a blog by the CDBB highlighting the need for ongoing critical dialogue about the ethics of the decison-making required for the creation of smart city initiaitves:

The ethical underpinnings of Smart City governance

Published in Urban Studies, The ethical underpinnings of Smart City governance: Decision-making in the Smart Cambridge programme, UK explores the ethical debate around Smart Cities. The authors present the case for extending the debate to include the ethical content which can be traced in decision-making as well as the issues related to the collection, processing, usage, storage and sharing of data. 

Ehwi, R., Holmes, H., Maslova, S. and Burgess, G. (2022) The ethical underpinnings of Smart City governance: Decision-making in the Smart Cambridge programme, UK. Urban Studies. February 2022. DOI:10.1177/00420980211064983

Problem Framing in UK Smart Cities

Dr Richmond Juvenile Ehwi and Dr Hannah Holmes presented their work on problem-framing in UK Smart Cities at the II Digital Geographies Conference in October 2021.

The presentation considered how areas of focus – or verticals – for smart initiatives are selected by those involved in urban governance. They identified several factors which shape the selection of verticals, including labour precarity, entrepreneurialism, and where smart city governance sits within overall urban governance structures. The perceived imperative to attract investment which is implicit in neoliberal urban governance was often drawn upon as an ethical reference to justify decision-making. The presentation concluded that the factors which shape vertical selection are embedded in broader neoliberal shifts in the urban governance landscape, and that more work is needed in order to draw out in more detail the logics and processes which underpin decision-making in smart cities.

Towards a co-creative stakeholder framework for Smart City projects: presentation

Dr Richmond Juvenile Ehwi gave a talk on a co-creative stakeholder framework for Smart City projects at a HTA Design LLP evening event in August 2021. HTA Design LLP is an organisation of housing design specialists with expertise in areas such as community-led design, urban and estate regeneration, and modular construction.

The talk looked at current approaches to engaging citizens in Smart City development initiatives and how the failure to adopt a life-cycle approach to developing Smart City initiatives causes them to fall short. Dr Ehwi proposed that stakeholder engagement in Smart City development should adopt a four-pillar lifecycle approach which would allow different urban stakeholders to engage meaningfully in the development of Smart Cities.

Podcast: How to unlock MMC at scale

Hannah Holmes took part in a podcast hosted by Emma Rosser, Estate Gazette's residential editor, in August 2021. Resi Talks: How to unlock MMC at scale discusses the benefits of MMC, the barriers to growth and getting housebuilders on board with rolling out MMC on a larger scale.

Built environment of Britain in 2040: Scenarios and strategies

A paper by Richmond Ehwi and colleagues from the Centre for Digital Built Britain has been published by Sustainable CIties and Society.

The paper explores how digital technology offers opportunities to understand and model solutions to the multiple issues facing society. It looks twenty years ahead to 2040 and explores four scenarios and identifies key strategies that can lead to the sustainable development of the Built Environment, outlining a number of actions, based on digital technology and a green information economy, that should be combined with the path for recovery from Covid-19 and ensure a future better for everyone in a digital built Britain.

Gurder Broo, D., Lamb, K., Ehwi, R.J., Pärn, E., Koronaki, A., Makric, C. and Zomer, T. (2020) Built environment of Britain in 2040: Scenarios and strategies. Sustainable Cities and Society, Volume 65, 2021, 102645. DOI:

Locating OSM: Offsite construction is firmly on the agenda, but where exactly is ‘offsite’?

Locating OSM: Offsite construction is firmly on the agenda, but where exactly is ‘offsite’?, a blog by Hannah Holmes and Gemma Burgess, has been published by CCHPR.

Four Futures, One Choice

Four Futures, One Choice presents us with a future lens enabling us to view, with clarity and detail, four scenarios of what Britain could look like in 2040, depending upon the decisions that are made now, in these unprecedented times of opportunity. The four compelling scenarios provide us all with an insight into how we can strategise now, taking swift and decisive actions, that will not only aid the COVID-19 recovery, but also help develop a built environment that supports a flourishing future and reduces our negative impact on the global environment.

Towards a co-creative Stakeholder engagement framework for Smart City projects

Richmond Ehwi gave a peer presentation to Department of Land Economy colleagues on 3 December 2020.

Tackling the housing crisis through digital technologies and OSM

Gemma Burgess presented to the Whitehall & Industry Group in August 2020

Stakeholder Engagement for Smart Cities and DIPs: National Guidance Document

Our paper looks at the importance of effective stakeholder engagement, and sets out guidance on identifying stakeholders and appropriate forms of engagement across the lifetime of Smart Cities and Digital Infrastructure Projects.

Stakeholder Engagement Plan: West Cambridge Digital Twin Research Facility

Commissioned by the CDBB, the document sets out a comprehensive plan for stakeholder engagement activities for the Digital Twin Research Facility (DTRF) to be set up at West Cambridge.

Engaging stakeholders in digital infrastructure projects

Richmond Ehwi's report to the CDBB provides a comprehensive review of available literature on stakeholder engagement, focusing on Smart City initiatives and digital infrastructure projects.

Flourishing Systems

The Cambridge Centre for Digital Built Britain have published a white paper: 'Flourishing systems: re-envisioning infrastructure as a platform for human flourishing'.

Digital technologies: presentation at 2019 Homes UK

Gemma Burgess gave a well-received presentation to those attending the 'Digital innovation in construction and asset management' session at the HOMES UK event in London.

Stakeholder engagement in Smart City initiatives

Richmond Ehwi's report to the CDBB shares insights into stakeholder engagement from his review of the Smart City initiatives in four UK cities.

Offsite construction: is it the answer to the housing crisis?

Dr Gemma Burgess presented at the National Housing Federation's Asset Management and Maintenance Conference on 23 October 2019.

Reinventing Renting

Our report, Reinventing Renting: The application of digital technology in housing for 'generation rent', was presented as part of the CDBB's September2019 showcase event .

BIM in the UK house building industry

Dr Gemma Burgess gave a presentation to the BIM4Housing group on the opportunities for and barriers to adoption of BIM in the UK house building industry.


CCHPR Contact

Project Start Date

January 2019