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Sustainable Cities and Infrastructures for Emergencies (IL9HE8)


In many developing countries, basic infrastructures; housing, power, water, sanitation, information and communication technologies, and roads, are insufficient, or non-existent. Inadequate access to infrastructures is a key barrier to economic growth. It inhibits access to health care, education and markets, it is tested even more at times of emergency.

The aims of this module are for the student to explore the planning and conceptual design of sustainable cities and infrastructure improvements for low-income urban communities and familiarise themselves with the range of infrastructure needs for affected communities before, during and following emergencies such as technologies for security, shelter, water supply and engineering management of liquid and solid wastes.


This is a five-day intensive module; including lectures and seminars.

The topics covered are:

  • Sustainable cities and regions
  • Urban development
  • Infrastructures for developing countries
  • Infrastructures for emergencies
  • Urban underground space: solving the problem of today’s cities

15 CATS:

  • Oral presentation
  • Essay

 30 CATS:

  • Oral presentation
  • Essay
  • Student-devised project

The student-devised project for the 30 CATS assessment will offer an opportunity for students to work in collaboration with the tutor and to create a piece of work that offers a solution to a controversial topic or question that has interested them during the module. Students are encouraged to undertake their own research utilising methodologies presented during the module.

Illustrative syllabus

The module will consist of 5 days sessions. The module leader will attend all of each session, to integrate and stimulate the interdisciplinary learning.

Sustainable cities and regions

In this lecture we will examine the roots of urban sustainability as an agenda, and the various ways in which sustainable infrastructures to cities have been redefined by scholars, policy makers and planners. Main questions to be addressed:

  • How can cities grow in a sustainable way?
  • How can information technologies (ICT) help cities better understand the underlying mechanisms and operational performances?

Urban development

This lecture features smart technology, eco-cities and inner-city regeneration schemes, mixed-use developments and multi-model transport interchanges with associated community, heritage or tourism facilities. Approaches to architecture, planning, design and the future of transportation will be presented.
Case studies may include:

  • Tianjin Eco-city
  • Spinnaker Tower
  • Cromer Seafront Enhancement

Infrastructures for developing countries

Infrastructure services are central to economic activities and to facilitate human development, economic growth, and productivity in industry. As low income countries aspire to higher levels of development, the need to meet the increasing demand for transport infrastructure and water supply has become critical. The growing demand for infrastructure presents a challenge as it affects the pace of regional integration, the competitiveness of goods and services in the global and regional trade markets. Topics to be covered on the day are related to critical infrastructures for developing countries such as transportation and water supply.

Infrastructures for emergencies

‘In the immediate aftermath of a flood, affected communities need rudimentary roads, drainage and water supply. Humanitarian Engineers have the essential skills to respond to such an emergency’. Richard Lebon, Mott Macdonald Consultancy

Infrastructures, both technical and human, are critical components of emergency response, helping to facilitate and shape both formal work practices and the improvisational work that individuals and organisations take part in as they address emergent challenges during unpredictable events.

Urban underground space: solving the problem of today’s cities

Population increase leads to an increased demand for reliable infrastructure, nowadays combined with a need for increased energy efficiency and a higher environmental awareness of the public. The use of underground space can help cities meet these increased demands while remaining compact, or find the space needed to include new functions in an existing city landscape. In this lecture we will discuss the possibilities for innovative use of the underground for commercial and residential use, storage, water conveyance and treatment, and heritage conservation, and we will highlight how the use of underground can bring more optimal solutions for urban development.