Co-curated Panel: Regenerative Cities

Curated by Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) Global

FCL Global is an international research collaboration between ETH Zurich and the Singapore universities NUS, NTU, and SUTD, supported by the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), and pursues a transdisciplinary approach that combines design, technology, science, and governance. With its data-driven research based on evidence-based strategies and empirical findings, FCL Global provides the foundation for resilient future urban planning and design.

Date: 5 October, Thursday
Time: 2.30pm – 4.30pm


According to the recently released U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change, the world is likely to pass a dangerous temperature threshold within the next 10 years, pushing the planet past the point of catastrophic warming — unless nations drastically transform their economies and immediately transition away from fossil fuels. Estimates suggest that cities are responsible for 75% of global CO2 emissions, with transport and buildings being among the largest contributors. This is an urgent call for urban planners, policymakers, and researchers to take action and affect transformational change to shrink the urban environmental footprint, as the settlement footprints expand, the interconnections between them become even more complex. We require a sustainable and regenerative approach, creating a restorative relationship between cities and the context they are situated within. This session presents six such regenerative strategies.


About the Speakers


Prof Sacha Menz resized

Welcome Address by
Prof Sacha Menz
Professor, ETH-Zurich
Programme Director and Principal Investigator, Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) Global

Sacha Menz is Full Professor of Architecture and Building Process at ETH Zurich and the Head and Co-Founder of the Institute of Technology in Architecture (ITA), Dean and Vice-Dean of the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich. He is Director of FCL Global under the Singapore-ETH Centre. Sacha has over ten years of research experience in high-density, high-liveability urban development and transformation. He has been leading multi-disciplinary research projects in Singapore and Zurich, investigating buildings and urban planning performance in different urban contexts. He is also a Principal Investigator of the Dense and Green Cities research module in FCL Global Zurich. Additionally, Sacha is a practising architect and urban planner and co-owner of the architecture firm SAM Architekten und Partner AG in Zurich since 1997. He has various executive and strategic positions in the Federation of Swiss Architects (FSA) and the Swiss Society of Engineers and Architects (SIA).


Prof Thomas Schroepfer resized

Opening Address by
Prof Thomas Schroepfer
Professor, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)
Programme Co-Director and Principal Investigator, Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) Global

Dr Thomas Schroepfer is Full Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design at the Singapore University of Technology and Design and Co-Director of the Singapore-ETH Centre Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) Global. His research and design projects relate to advances in environmental sustainability, materials, structure and form, performance and energy, digital fabrication and building processes.

He has published extensively on his work that has been exhibited at important international venues including the Venice Architecture Biennale and the World Architecture Festival. His books have been translated into several languages and include Dense and Green Cities: Architecture as Urban Ecosystem (2020), Dense and Green: Innovative Building Types for Sustainable Urban Architecture (2016), and Ecological Urban Architecture (2012). He is the recipient of prestigious awards and recognitions including the President's Design Award, Singapore’s highest honour accorded to designers and designs across all disciplines; the German Design Award; and the Asia Education Leadership Award.


Dr Pieter Herthogs resized

Dr Pieter Herthogs
Senior Researcher and Co-Investigator
Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) Global

Dr Pieter Herthogs is an investigator at FCL Global. He is the Project Leader and Co-Investigator of the Cities Knowledge Graph project, and Co-Investigator of the Circular Future Cities and Semantic Urban Element modules of FCL Global. His research focuses on developing Design Evaluation and Knowledge Modelling approaches that bridge disciplines and domains. He applies these approaches to three main areas: computational city planning, building adaptation & circular economy in construction, and public space quality. He holds a Doctorate in Engineering Sciences and a Master’s degree in Architectural Engineering from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium.


Topic: From Urban Mining to Urban Harvesting: Building Shared Frameworks for Circular Future Cities

In this talk, the importance of establishing a common understanding and language for socio-technical transitions, such as our vision to design regenerative cities, will be discussed. Clear frameworks and definitions help shape knowledge and identify innovations. The talk will illustrate these using examples from the research, focussing on differentiations between Urban Mining and Urban Harvesting, and between Circular and Regenerative Cities.


Dr Francis Lee resized

Dr Francis Bu Sung Lee
Associate Professor, Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
Principal Investigator, Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) Global

Dr Bu Sung Lee, Francis is Associate Professor at the School of Computer Science and Engineering, NTU. He currently holds the position of Director, International Networks at the National Supercomputing Centre Singapore. Bu-Sung Lee was the founding Director of the Service Platform Lab, HP Labs Singapore from 2010–2012. His research areas cover both Grid/Cloud Computing and networks. Lately, he has carried out research in the areas of Data Analytics and environment. He currently holds several grants in Data Analytics and Machine Learning, e.g., for the Singapore-ETH Centre project Powering the City and an SDSC grant for Bridging the Gap between Remote Sensing and Tree Modelling with Data Science.


Topic: Integrating Renewables within the City

Over 80% of the world's energy consumption occurs in urban areas, making the transition to renewable energy a critical step in reducing carbon emissions. Singapore is placing a strong emphasis on solar energy as a key component of its renewable energy strategy. Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) technology is particularly promising in Singapore due to limited land space. This approach is often regarded as holistic, as it combines data-driven analysis with modelling and simulation to support evidence-based decision-making in the design and planning of the city.


Dr Srilalitha (Sri) Gopalakrishnan resized

Dr Srilalitha Gopalakrishnan
Associate Director Research, Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) Global

Dr Srilalitha (Sri) Gopalakrishnan is a landscape architect with over 15 years of professional experience and diverse projects across Singapore, Malaysia, China, Hong Kong, and India. She has worked with Tierra Design in Singapore for over 11 years on a wide range of projects with many of her projects winning several accolades including the President's Design Award for Design of the Year for the Hotel Park Royal on Pickering. Her research interests focus on the performance of integrated landscape design in high-density urban environments for resilient and sustainable urban design solutions. She is the Associate Director Research and a Postdoc researcher and Project Coordinator for the Dense and Green Cities: Emerging Models of Integrated Urban Developments project at Future Cities Lab Global. She is also the President of the Singapore Institute of Landscape Architects (SILA). She represents SILA at various national-level committees and strategic planning groups and chairs SILA's Leadership in Design Strategic Pillar.


Topic: Dense and Green Cities for a Nature-Positive Future

A nature-positive approach seeks to move beyond simply reducing the negative impact of cities on the natural environment to actively restoring and regenerating ecosystems and promoting biodiversity. Nature-positive urban solutions recognise that nature is not just a resource to be exploited but a valuable partner in creating healthy, resilient, and sustainable cities. The talk will capture important aspects of the urban planning and design, architectural, social, environmental, economic and governance systems performance of the selected cases in Singapore, to allow for the evaluation, comparison, and mutual learning on how urban density, greenery, and sustainability can become mutually dependent and synergistic.


Moderated Panel Discussion 1
Regenerative Cities – Circular Districts
with Dr Pieter Herthogs and Dr Francis Bu Sung Lee, moderated by Dr Srilalitha Gopalakrishnan

Dr Alberto Costa reized

Dr Alberto Costa
Senior Researcher and Cluster Coordinator
Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) Future Resilient Systems

Dr Alberto Costa received the BEng and MEng degrees from the University of Padova, Italy, and the PhD degree in operations research from Ecole Polytechnique, France. He is a senior researcher and the Cluster Coordinator in the Singapore-ETH Centre Future Resilient Systems programme. His research interests include black-box and robust optimization, clustering in complex networks, and information retrieval. He is one of the recipients of the 2021 Beale-Orchard-Hays Prize from the Mathematical Optimization Society.


Topic: Long-term Solar PV Planning in High-Density Urban Systems

During this session, a robust optimisation model will be presented for solar photovoltaic (PV) planning under uncertainty, considering the impact of land use and national adoption targets over the medium and long term. This model can facilitate the derivation of incentives needed to achieve such targets as well as the generation of what-if scenarios, which can serve as a decision-support tool for agencies.


Dr Cheong Siew Ann resized

Dr Cheong Siew Ann
Associate Professor, Nanyang Technology University (NTU)
Principal Investigator, Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) Global

Dr Cheong Siew Ann was born in Singapore in 1969. After getting through his primary, secondary, and junior college education in Ama Keng Primary School, the Chinese High School, and Hwa Chong Junior College respectively, and thereafter a contract service with the Singapore Armed Forces, he studied physics at the National University of Singapore. He graduated in 1997 with a BSc (Hons) degree in physics and went on to obtain his PhD in theoretical condensed matter physics from Cornell University in 2006. He then spent a year and a half as a postdoctoral associate with the Cornell Theory Centre, working on biological sequence segmentation, before joining NTU as an Assistant Professor in Physics and Applied Physics in August 2007. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016. His main research interest is in developing data analysis methods and toy models for understanding the dynamics of complex systems such as biological macromolecules, the brain, earthquakes, financial markets, infectious diseases, and human society.


Topic: Cities as Social Reactors

Cities play a role similar to the cell membrane in cells, in that they intensify the interactions of constituents within small spaces. This intensification gives rise to myriad processes that make biological life possible in a cell. We believe the same is true for urban and cultural life in a city. In fact, in cities the outcomes of these interactions are highly desirable, in that they lead to diversification and innovation. However, we also believe that rewarding intensification of these social interactions cannot be achieved by simply making a city larger in geographical size, or in Singapore’s case, make uniformly increasing the population density. We argue that intensification is best done by creatively scheduling the self-organised hierarchy of social interactions over their enabling spaces, so that we achieve the desired interactions as the result of intensifying over time, without making too much demand of space.


Dr Prateek Bansal resized

Dr Prateek Bansal
Assistant Professor, National University of Singapore (NUS)
Principal Investigator, Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) Global

Dr Prateek Bansal is Presidential Young (Assistant) Professor at NUS. Before joining NUS, he was a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at Imperial College London. Prior to that, Prateek completed a PhD in Transportation Engineering with a minor in Econometrics at Cornell University, an MS in Transportation Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, and a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi. Prateek leads the Behavioural and Cognitive Science Lab at NUS and is a Principal Investigator of the Adaptive Mobility, Land Use, and Infrastructure module at Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore. His research group is interested in creating methodological innovations at the intersection of Bayesian Machine Learning, Econometrics, Causal Inference, and Computational Psychology to address challenging questions related to mobility behaviour and the adoption of emerging technologies at an individual level and an urban scale.


Topic: Adaptive Planning of Charging Infrastructure for Electric Vehicles

Electric mobility is paving a path towards sustainable transportation by reducing air pollution and dependence on fossil fuels. Governments across the globe have offered financial incentives such as tax exemptions and purchase subsidies to increase the uptake of electric vehicles. While these benefits could encourage first-time electric vehicle buyers, the repurchase decisions will considerably depend on the accessibility to charging infrastructure. Prateek's talk will focus on how to develop adaptive plans to deploy charging infrastructure across space and time while considering its bidirectional relationship with market-level adoption of electric vehicles.


Moderated Panel Discussion 2
Regenerative Cities – Transformation Strategies
with Dr Alberto Costa, Dr Cheong Siew Ann and Dr Prateek Bansal, moderated by Dr Srilalitha Gopalakrishnan