Caring for fragile infrastructures to enhance urban sustainability

A pilot project that aims to discover how immersive meetings can help stakeholders (re)engage with urban environments.

The big issues

Ask someone to imagine a city of the future, and they’ll most likely picture shiny designers’ impressions of clean, safe and grand designs. This is the developer-led form of citizen engagement we’ve become used to being presented with. It’s a narrative that tends to background the need for and the work involved in maintaining infrastructures.

Partly through the experience of exclusionary effects of temporarily suspended or broken urban infrastructures – from cancelled bus routes to overcrowded housing, we are increasingly aware of the need for innovative and participatory approaches to collectively care for our urban environments of today.

Our response

ENDEAR will investigate whether it’s possible to generate a desire to engage in collective care and repair behaviours towards decaying urban infrastructures through engagement with 3D models of broken infrastructures. By (re-)creating the experience of socio-spatial proximity with assets in disrepair using immersive virtual technology that allows participants to interact with 3D models, we hope to promote a new approach to inclusive, prosperous and sustainable.

We’ll work with local stakeholders to identify broken infrastructure, creating a map of locations. Based on this, we’ll aim to establish a library of 3D models for participants to interact with, using VR headsets in workshops to test engagement with static models and we’ll also attempt to create a virtual field trip to an area in need of renewal.

The benefits

This is a new type of project utilising state-of-the-art technology, so we intend to create a methodology to improve future research of this kind and conduct a practical evaluation of the relative strengths and weaknesses of physical and virtual 3D-model interaction.

By bringing together geographically dispersed participants to engage with spaces that they may talk about often but have never been to, we aim to challenge potentially divisive assumptions.

We also hope ENDEAR will help develop local capacity for participatory engagement projects with digital tech towards more inclusive, equitable and sustainable development.


  • Dr Katharina Burger
  • Dr Jasmina Stevanov
  • Dr Ola Michalec


ENDEAR – Experiencing infrastructures in disrepair

Want to find out what we’ve been up to in the past year?

Download the BDFI Impact Report (PDF, 7,156kB)

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