Sustainability is not only a roadmap for our future but for our survival. We require accelerated actions in order to respond to new challenges, responses which might differ from the traditional approach to urban planning and design. The Department of Urban Planning and Design promotes a transdisciplinary approach to ‘sustainable urbanisation’ which goes beyond the conventional debates and discussions on the challenges contemporary cities and societies have faced. Self-directed research teams, not individuals, are the basis of the horizontal working culture in the Department. Thus, boundaries between disciplines are obliterated. This allows us to think ‘outside the box’ and promotes flexibility and rapid response to changes in research. To develop a strong research culture and demonstrate the value and impact of our research on society, we interpret the concept of ‘sustainable urbanisation’ from a variety of perspectives by addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Some of our important research areas include (but are not limited to):

 Governance and politics

Good city governance is imperative for managing cities and regions and for addressing institutional, political and community-level challenges. We aim to analyse issues related to globalisation, urbanisation, urban regeneration and public participation. Questions focus on a good governance model to ensure sustainability in cities and regions. Currently, staff in our Department are exploring the research areas of local and regional governance, smart cities, socio-technical changes, urban politics, rural revitalisation, and inclusiveness.

 Infrastructure and network

Networks directly impact economic growth and societal resilience. Infrastructure allows people and human settlements to adopt lifestyles that create opportunities for ensuring the effective functioning of the economy and greenhouse gas reduction. Current research on this theme covers several topics, such as sustainable mega infrastructure, green infrastructure, public transit, land use and transport, smart mobility, territorial planning and development, and disaster risk management.

Inclusive placemaking 

The Department explores the nexus of ‘research’ and ‘design’ in the context of urbanism and urban regeneration. The key question under this theme is how we can nurture a collaborative place-making process that supports innovation in future urban design and urban regeneration practice. The main topics comprise research by design, evidence-based design, typology, morphology, urban conservation, tourism, city branding, community planning, community engagement and water sensitive design.  

 Housing and economic development

Housing is a critical input in economic and social development. In a broader context of economic development, key questions critique the impacts and opportunities of housing development in a market-oriented economy and investigate the new formation and transition of community in a more diverse and dynamic society. Areas of study include housing market policy, discretionary planning, property-led regeneration, entrepreneurship, firm creation, gentrification, affordable housing, and property market analysis.

Environment and public health

Climate change impacts inhabitants’ health and lives in a complex way. The complexity of environment and public health is not sufficiently understood as it is interconnected with social, cultural, political and economic issues in the built environment. The greatest attention is given to the future sustainability of the urbanisation process and its management challenges to cope with these emerging issues. The focused research efforts are climate change and adaptation, community resilience, environmental behaviour, physical and mental health, subjective well-being, and disaster resilience.