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Implementing a new human settlement theory: Strategic planning for a network of regenerative villages

Steven Liaros (PolisPlan, Sydney, Australia) (Department of Political Economy, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment

ISSN: 2046-6099

Article publication date: 22 October 2019

Issue publication date: 27 July 2020



Whilst the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables offers significant environmental benefits, the other transition – from a centralised to a distributed energy system – underpins a disruptive model for planning cities, towns and villages. A local energy micro-grid can power a local water micro-grid, which in turn can irrigate a local food system, offering a community the opportunity to harvest, store and distribute food, water and energy within their immediate catchment. A distributed network of regenerative villages, connected virtually and with shared electric vehicles is offered as an alternative vision for future cities. The paper aims to justify this as a preferred model for human settlements and develop an implementation process.


This paper asks: Is it inevitable that large cities will keep growing, while rural communities will continue to be deprived of resources and opportunities? Is the flow of people into cities inevitable? To answer this question, the adopted methodology is to take a systems approach, observing town planning processes from a range of different disciplines and perspectives.


By contrasting the current centralising city model with a distributed network of villages, this paper offers ten reasons why the distributed network is preferable to centralisation.

Research limitations/implications

It is argued that in this time of dramatic technological upheaval, environmental destruction and social inequality, business-as-usual is unacceptable in any field of human endeavour. This paper presents a sketch outlining a new human settlement theory, a different way of living on the land. It is an invitation to academics and practitioners to participate in a debate.


The information and energy revolutions, both distributed systems, are reshaping cities.



Liaros, S. (2020), "Implementing a new human settlement theory: Strategic planning for a network of regenerative villages", Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 258-271.



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