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URBED (Urbanism, Environment and Design) Ltd to close

Thursday 1st December, 2022

It is with great sadness that we announce that URBED (Urbanism, Environment and Design) Ltd will close early in the new year. The employee-owned cooperative finds itself with no option, following the completion of a number of jobs and operating in an incredibly difficult post COVID environment particularly with public sector tendering.  

URBED (Urbanism, Environment and Design) Ltd formed in 2006, and grew out of the original URBED (Urban and Economic Development) Ltd from 1976. It is one of the last surviving members of a group of consultancies that pioneered the process of urban regeneration in the 1970s and 80s. Since that time URBED have undertaken ground-breaking work on the reuse of industrial heritage, managed workspace, town centres, sustainable urbanism, domestic retrofit, urban design and coding. 

In many ways we are going out at the top of our game, having authored the National Model Design Code (NMDC) and playing a leading role in the government’s Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund. We were awarded the Ashden Award at COP26 in Glasgow which recognises pioneers across the globe who are taking on the climate crisis and creating better, more equal societies. We also hold two of the five current Urban Design Group Awards, for the NMDC and our work on TOWN’s urban housing scheme at Wolverton in Milton Keynes. Back in 2014 the practice was also the winner of the Wolfson Economics Prize.

The closure will not affect the URBED Trust that is a separate not for profit company and is run by URBED’s 1976 original founding director Dr Nicholas Falk. This will continue its work on smarter urbanisation and sustainable housing in both the UK and India. The URBED+ research lab at Manchester School of Architecture will also continue and will be publishing a book on High Streets for RIBA Publishing next year.     

URBED expertise and ethos will live on as its members move onto pastures new.  Three of the team are moving on to People Powered Retrofit, a public interest company that grew out of a decade long collaboration between URBED and Carbon Coop to support households doing retrofit. A number of members of the team are moving to BDP and another to the Quality of Life Foundation. 

It is particularly sad to see the closure of a practice that has been influential in so many fields. Our values including cooperative management, collaborative work with local communities, environmental consciousness and sustainable urbanism influenced everything we did and how we ran the company.  

Thank you to everyone: clients, collaborators, friends and colleagues who we have worked with over the years. It’s been a great experience and we are sure that URBED’s influence will live on through the Trust, URBED+ and in the future careers of our people as they go on to great things.      

We look forward to seeing the exciting things that grow out of this legacy and hope to work with our collaborators again. 

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