Urban Innovation Lab

Urban transition research addresses responses to transitional urban landscapes, heritage, and ecology (TULHE), which are recognised as complex systems of entangled domains at multiple scales. Based on the UN SDGs, UIL’s urban transition research axis interlaces cultural, provisioning, and regulatory ecosystem services to consider the major threats posed to biodiversity and habitat integrity, such as landscape fragmentation, environmental hazards, and bio-cultural heritage extinction.

THULE addresses responses to a major shift in environmental management programs while recognising and preserving the bio-cultural values of landscapes, especially in the rural areas of mega-urban regions. Urban transition engages with a broader system of integrated policies, both theoretically and operationally, through cross-sectoral programs on sustainability and biodiversity enhancement.

Ecological rationality is taking on an increasingly strategic and systemic role in urban transition design and planning due to the rise of global environmental concerns and awareness about the management and use of natural resources. Responding to the need for urban transition projects that systematically engage ecological problems, THULE aims to propose strategies for developing global partnerships for sustainable development.

Given the rising influence of the landscape in regional studies, THULE is structured to explore the echoes between theory, practice, research, and design. Social determinants such as population pressures; regional sprawl in the built environment; the fading of heritage sites; and ecological issues involving environmental pollution, groundwater quality, floods, and soaring energy costs underline the urgency of cooperative action and transdisciplinary praxis.

THULE aims to honour the potential of landscape systems in urban transition design. Rather than looking for new disciplinary rebranding of current planning practices, THULE foregrounds the involvement of urbanism and architecture beyond the disjunction of geography, ecology, and heritage preservation from the territorial project. This view led to an understanding of cities and mega-urban regions as closed systems coordinated by a number of variables measured by indexes rather than dynamic and distributed ecological systems based on inter-connectivity and flexibility. By engaging issues such as the massive challenges faced by urbanised regions and the marginalisation and suppression of living biophysical systems caused by the spatial standardisation of the landscape, THULE identifies synergies for a sustainable global environment.