Cities generate 80% of the world’s GDP and CO2 emissions, and consume 75% of the planet’s resources. Cities are therefore instrumental to the ecological and social transition under way.
Today’s cities are composed of complex systems involving stocks and flows of energy, information, materials, goods and people. They are undergoing rapid change in terms of function and organization, triggered by the pervasiveness of modern technology and the development of the sharing economy. In fact, cities are now dependent on the surrounding peri-urban and rural areas for their supplies.
A cluster to address one of ENAC’s three sustainability challenges
Shaping sustainable territories requires a new understanding of urbanization and cities. By considering a territory as a system of systems, the vision will become holistic., integrating the interdependencies of the mobility of people and goods, energy production and efficiency, urban planning, urban ecology and urban metabolism. This new approach will help to address the challenges posed by urbanization to the ecological and social transition.
Three research priorities
Considering densely populated territories and their peripheries as systems of systems allows the development of a new paradigm in terms of mobility and housing. This conception is more human-focused and locally oriented and will boost local economic and social networks. For instance, planning policies that emphasize community activities are consistent with both the principles of sustainability and people’s aspirations for individual and collective lifestyles.
ENAC focuses on a multi-scale approach of cities and territories in terms of spatial structure and organization of flows.
By combining this approach with an expertise in new technologies (smart sensors, field robotics, spatial data visualization, and digital modeling and design), ENAC addresses the complex challenges of urbanization and population density growth: land use change, housing and mobility, public health, water supply and waste management.
Urbanization patterns change. Boundaries between cities and their suburbs are blurred. There is an urgent need to rethink the urban-rural relations in fields such as food and public health.
ENAC is developing new approaches and strategies to analyze and model the effects of land use on urban developments, focusing on aspects such as urban heating systems and urban agriculture. As vital sources of insight for new city management practices, big data and AI are helping to reconfigure the way in which researchers interact with economic and social actors.
Interdisciplinarity in teaching
ENAC is setting up new teaching programs to provide future generations of architects and civil and environmental engineers with the skills needed to ensure the ecological and social transition towards sustainable territories.