student profile: Mr Steven Liaros


Thesis work

Thesis title: A New Paradigm for Land Development: Creating Regenerative Nodes within a Distributed & Networked Global City

Supervisors: Frank STILWELL

Thesis abstract:

The purpose of this thesis is to explore the relationship between a new economic paradigm and the life of cities—where the term ‘cities’ is understood in its broadest possible sense as the human habitat—however such habitats may be constructed and organised and wherever located. How would Cities be structured in a Steady State Economy (SSE) or a Circular Economy (CE)? The opposite question is also pertinent: how might a disruptive model for building cities enable the development of a new economic paradigm? This research seeks to bridge together the SSE and than CE concepts because the term CE captures the dynamic character of the economy proposed in the literature relating to SSE, while the principles of the CE—systems thinking, life-cycle planning and striving for zero waste—are entirely consistent with the SSE. The term CE is useful because it has captured the popular imagination and there is growing momentum amongst business groups and various mainstream institutions around a suggested transition ‘From a Linear to a Circular Economy’, also providing a clear and concise narrative for the transition. The land development process is the vehicle through which it is proposed to explore how the CE may be implemented, examining whether it is possible to develop a replicable process for land development using CE and SSE principles. A SSE aims “to sustain a constant, sufficient stock of real wealth and people for a long time” Daly (2010). The goal of our land development process would therefore be to create places that sustain a discrete population in their environment for a long time. Imagining a hypothetical village-scale development as a thermodynamic system that seeks to minimise energy losses and strive for zero waste, some economic and town planning principles are revealed. These include re-localisation, minimising travel and transport distances for distributive efficiency, maximising the durability of all work outputs, preference of access over ownership and aligning with natural cycles to harness natural energies. Planning for a discrete population also allows for the design of places for abundance of basic necessities by planning for supply to exceed demand. The research will also connect with the transition in energy systems, which relates not just to a transition from fossil fuels to renewables but also from centralised (one-directional) to distributed (bi-directional) grids. Similar transitions in water and food systems would enable a village scale community to harvest, store a distribute local food, water and energy. This local empowerment connects the research to the literature related to the Right to the City, where David Harvey (Rebel Cities, 2012) argues: “The freedom to make and remake ourselves and our cities is, I want to argue, one of the most precious and most neglected of our human rights.” The design of villages that provide their residents with their basic needs of water, food, energy as well as living spaces for shelter and work, would also offer a meaningful and achievable alternative to the Universal Basic Income—the debate about which is concerned about the distribution of wealth but not about how that wealth is created. Such villages can then be imagined as hubs or nodes in a network—an Internet of Cities—where basic needs that are dependant on local climate and geography—water, food, energy and living spaces—are sourced locally, while more complex needs and rarer skills are accessed through the broader network. More information at

Note: This profile is for a student at the University of Sydney. Views presented here are not necessarily those of the University.