Research Topics

Urban Sustainability

With more than half of the global population living in cities, pressing challenges such as resource strain and mobility issues arise. We aim to advance the development of sustainable cities by analyzing and optimizing possible urban systems, fostering careful planning, and redefining urban transportation.

The pace of global urbanization is rapidly accelerating. In 1950, one-third of the world’s population lived in urban areas; today, it’s already half, and projections suggest it will reach about two-thirds by 2050. This trend presents significant opportunities and challenges. Decisions about how and where cities expand and the design and purpose of new buildings will have profound implications for decades to come. The resulting city morphology profoundly influences energy needs and access to vital resources such as fresh water. Therefore, a deep scientific understanding is necessary for careful planning and to guide urbanization toward resilient and sustainable cities. But what does the ideal city of the future look like?

We address environmental, social, and economic challenges associated with urbanization. Through cutting-edge research in complexity science and interdisciplinary collaborations, we aim to understand the dynamics and interplay within urban structures. We analyze how different city characteristics such as shape, density, or mobility patterns interact and affect diverse aspects–from individual commuting times to the overall energy consumption of entire metropolises. Specifically, our focus lies in quantifying urban transportation, recognizing the detrimental impacts of cars on road safety, noise levels, pollution, and sedentary lifestyles, which lead to millions of premature deaths annually and exacerbate urban heat islands. In addition, we identify weaknesses in all public transport and material flow networks and strategize methods to minimize them.

We strive to find out what makes cities efficient, sustainable, and livable. This knowledge might serve as a foundation to promote more efficient, fairer, and more sustainable cities for the future.

Explore urban mobility in the CSH research project CITIES MOVING


  • Gaining a deep understanding of urban dynamics for the sustainable planning of our growing cities
  • Understanding the metabolism of cities based on energy and resources
  • Redefining transportation for safer, greener cities
  • Analyzing the effects of urbanization on the environment and society



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