Research Group Building Future Cities

Increasing urbanisation presents the city of the future with challenges to stay sustainable and healthy. The city must remain clean, healthy and livable during this transition. The construction sector in particular has a big task here because, like no other sector, the construction sector and the construction process have a major influence on the development of the physical and living environment, as well as employment. In addition, the construction industry, like no other sector, makes great use of available raw materials, road capacity and public space.

From this perspective, the Building Future Cities research group works on four themes. The themes are aimed at the sustainable and efficient development and redevelopment of the city. This requires a construction sector that deals more consciously with available raw materials and capacities in the city, and the living environment within the city. To this end, the sector must develop innovative solutions to work and collaborate differently, and professionals involved need new competences for a new way of working and collaborating when developing the city. 

1. Circular construction, demolition and reuse

A leading sustainability theme is resource efficiency including advanced types of recycling and upcycling of construction and demolition waste. This is particularly important in cities because of the high pressure on resources available in densely populated areas. Construction is also of great importance in all sectors as construction and demolition waste has a large share in the total amount of waste. The construction has a task and opportunity to reduce the use of raw materials and to increase the amount of reuse. Case studies show that the reuse of construction and demolition waste can also be made reasonably quickly and cost-effectively. Better access to local construction and demolition waste also opens up possibilities for citizens to get started with (re)building their homes and neighbourhoods. Open source building by citizens offers opportunities to build themselves and therefore such kind of building is less capital-intensive, and creates new types of business and employment in cities. 

2. Healthy construction with attention for the environment and environment

Air quality and road networks in cities will come under further pressure due to increasing urbanisation. About 30% of business transport in cities is construction-related. This concerns the supply and removal of material and building and demolition waste. The load factor is low and many construction projects cause a lot of transport and congestion, often on hotspots such as a station area where that is not desirable. This forces local authorities to take measures and limit inner city transport. Construction companies and transportation firms must respond to this and with advanced logistics and IT solutions. More reuse, but also more consolidation of transports at locations around the city will decrease the transport. Circular hubs for city distribution as well as processing of construction and demolition waste are interesting solutions and will create employment. 

3. Smart construction and demolishment with data

For scaling up efficient material reuse and smart construction logistics in cities, the use of ICT resources and modelling will be necessary. In order to determine the quantities of potentially re-usable construction and demolition waste and its re-use value, ICT and modelling of the city are necessary, that is to say urban mining using big data. Modelling of the city can also be used to model, prognosticate and control transport flows with 'control tower' applications for air quality and congestion in redevelopment or new development in the city, which becomes particularly efficient if several projects are managed simultaneously with these applications. The open and smart construction of the digital city model makes it possible to link more data such as health data from RIVM, and make these available, for example for visualizations of effects of interventions, and facilitating interaction and discussion between professionals and non-professionals. 

4. Collaborative construction in the city of tomorrow by public, private and people

The interaction, the (joint) working and managing of urban projects will become more complex, and it is expected that the coming periods will have to be carried out with fewer people and therefore have to be more efficient. Urban projects, digitization, advanced logistic management, increased reuse and redevelopment, as well as increased citizen involvement, makes it necessary for competencies of both professionals and non-professionals to change. The interaction between parties and people in the city will be dictated to a large extent by more (chain) cooperation and co-creation, such as (re) development of neighbourhoods and (semi) public real estate. The larger number of aspects that play a role in this will also have to be covered and safeguarded by appropriate governance, tendering policy and project definition by both public and private clients of inner-city projects and interventions in the built-up urban environment. 

Contact

Visiting address:
Padualaan 99
3584 CH Utrecht

Mailing address:
P.O. Box 182
3500 AD Utrecht

Phone: +31 88 481 81 55
E-mail: marjan.brouwer-zeeman@hu.nl