Understand a city’s people, components, functions, scales and dynamics, as precondition for its sustainable design and management.

Course Details

Language English
Duration 11 week
Effort 2 hours/week

This course is no longer actively supervised. The content of the course is freely accessible to you, but there is no guarantee of its correctness or availability. Please be aware that the course cannot be completed with a certificate.
Understanding a city as a whole, its people, components, functions, scales and dynamics, is crucial for the appropriate design and management of the urban system. While the development of cities in different parts of the world is moving in diverse directions, all estimations show that cities worldwide will change and grow strongly in the coming years. Especially in the tropics over the next 3 decades, it is expected that the number of new urban residents will increase by 3 times the population of Europe today. Yet already now, there is an extreme shortage of designers and urban planners able to understand the functioning of a city as a system, and to plan a sustainable and resilient city. To answer questions like: Which methods can contribute to the sustainable performance of a city, and how can we teach this to the next generations, the ETH Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore has produced over the last 3 years many necessary research results. “Future Cities” aims to bring these latest results to the places where they are needed most.
The only way to better understand the city is by going beyond the physical appearance and by focusing on different representations, properties and impact factors of the urban system. For that reason, in this course we will explore the city as the most complex human-made “organism” with a metabolism that can be modeled in terms of stocks and flows. We will open a holistic view on existing and new cities, with a focus on Asia. Data-driven approaches for the development of the future city will be studied, based on crowdsourcing and sensing. At first, we will give an overview of the components and dynamics of the future cities, and we will show the importance of information and information architecture for the cities of the future. The course will cover the origins, state-of-the-art and applications of information architecture and simulation. “Future Cities” will provide the basis to understand, shape, plan, design, build, manage and continually adapt a city. You will learn to see the consequences of citizen science and the merging of Architecture and information space. You will be up-to-date on the latest research and development on how to better understand, create and manage the future cities for a more resilient urban world.


There are no prerequisites for attending this course.

Course instructors

Arne Seitz

Head of BioImaging and Optics Platform at the Life Science Sciences Faculty from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Received his PhD in physical chemistry in 1999 from the Philipps-University Marburg.

Catarina Wall Gago

Catarina Wall Gago is a researcher and lecturer at the Construction and Conservation laboratory of the EPFL, ENAC School of Architecture. She is an architect (IST) and completed a PhD concerning the contemporary renovation of 19th century housing (IST-EPF…

Christian Koechli

Christian Koechli est chargé de cours à l’EPFL et ingénieur de développement chez Micro-Beam SA. Il a obtenu un diplôme d’ingénieur électricien (1995) et un doctorat en sciences techniques (1999) à l’EPFL.

Domaines de compétences :

  • Moteurs et actionneurs de…

University MOOCs

University MOOCs organization description

16 instructors