REPLENISH is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham, Lancaster University, UCL and the University of Southampton.

Funder: Medical Research Council

Investigators at the University of Southampton: Professor AbuBakr Bahaj, Professor Patrick James, Professor William Powrie and Dr Stephanie Gauthier


The infrastructure systems that support our urban systems and serve citizens, society and cities, have developed over centuries. They have been variously superseded, extended and supplemented as populations have grown, technology has developed and contexts have changed. This presents challenges of maintenance (keeping the older parts going) and integration (of the new with the old) as expectations of ever better service inexorably rise. REPLENISH is focusing on the ‘urban metabolism’ – the flows of resources, goods and people into, around and out of cities.

Moreover, the solutions to ‘urban metabolism’ problems offer potential for physical exercise. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease, are collectively responsible for almost 70% of all deaths worldwide. Radical changes to the quality of the urban environment and the way we move around cities would manifestly improve this situation. Our infrastructure systems, as currently constituted, are therefore one of the major upstream determinants of NCDs and compromised mental H&WB, and contribute hugely to direct costs (e.g. to the NHS) and indirect costs (e.g. loss of productivity) to the UK’s economy.

REPLENISH contends that if our infrastructure systems and their associated cityscapes were designed with positive H&WB outcomes as the primary design criterion, huge social and economic benefits would result. REPLENISH therefore proposes, by adopting systems thinking and systems engineering (or ‘doing’), to:

– create the evidence base to prove the extent of the damage to citizen H&WB and the benefits of change,

– rethink and redesign our engineered infrastructure systems and cityscapes,

– create alternative business models that would prove the value of investment in making such change, and amended forms of governance that control their efficacy,

– prove the concepts via demonstrator projects in association with the Design Council, Sustrans and other user partners.