The Impact of Disruptive Technologies on Future Urban Form in New Zealand’s Cities

Byrd, Hugh, Matthewman, Steve and Christine, Kenney (2018) The Impact of Disruptive Technologies on Future Urban Form in New Zealand’s Cities. In: Urbanism NZ, 14-15 May 2018, Wellington NZ.

Energy balancing for robotic aided clustered wireless sensor networks using mobility diversity algorithms
Urbanism NZ final.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper reviews the historical research that has led to widespread policies on compact urban form and collates evidence of research that demonstrates that dispersed urban form may be more energy efficient than compact. This is counterintuitive but is supported by both challenging the conventional modelling of energy use as well as case studies with empirical evidence. The conclusion is that policies on urban form should be driven not by existing technologies but by the disruptive technologies of the future.

Energy demand and supply has not only influenced the growth and size of urban areas but has also influenced the shape of cities in New Zealand. At its most basic level, the shape of a city is characterized by the extent to which it either goes ‘up’ or goes ‘out’. Going up is associated with a compact city of relatively high density and tall buildings. Going out is associated with a dispersed city characterised by sprawl of relatively low density with detached buildings.

It is generally assumed that a compact city is more energy efficient than a dispersed city for two main reasons. Firstly, there is less energy consumption for transport since travel distances are less. Secondly, it is assumed that compact and tall building types results in less surface area of building envelope and thereby less energy loss.

Some studies supporting these views are now several decades old and have tended to make the assumption that internal combustion engine vehicles (ICVEs) will continue to dominate into the future that energy supplies are centralised and heat loss through building fabric is the best indicator of energy use for analysing built form.

More recent research is challenging these assumptions both through accrued empirical evidence and also case studies of the impact of ‘disruptive technologies’. The increase use in distributed energy generation in urban areas (generally roof-mounted photovoltaics (PVs)), the growth in ownership of electric vehicles (EVs) and the potential introduction of smart and micro-grids and the possibility of virtual power plants (VPPs) is changing the impact that energy has on built form and conflicts with current policies for denser, contained and compact development.

Keywords:disruptive technologies, electric vehicles, photovoltaics, virtual power plants, transport energy, tall buildings, urban density
Subjects:K Architecture, Building and Planning > K460 Transport Planning
H Engineering > H223 Environmental Impact Assessment
L Social studies > L391 Sociology of Science and Technology
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K440 Urban studies
K Architecture, Building and Planning > K450 Housing
J Technologies > J960 Transport Logistics
J Technologies > J910 Energy Technologies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of Architecture & Design > School of Architecture & Design (Architecture)
ID Code:32167
Deposited On:10 Jul 2018 13:43

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