Urban-Rural Systems (URS)

We are a transdisciplinary design-research group, combining expertise in architecture, urban design, environment, agricultural science, ethnography, data analytics, and visualisation. We are based in Singapore at the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL), with links to Southeast Asia, South Asia and China. FCL is a research unit of ETH-Zurich at Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF), operating under the auspices of the Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC).


We focus on urban-rural regions in Monsoon Asia. We are interested in such regions as the basis for potential ‘urban-rural systems’ that, if understood and supported well, can develop into innovative forms of sustainable settlement for millions of people. Urban-rural regions in Asia are already vast, support very large populations, produce staple food crops, and mix seemingly incompatible land-uses (agriculture, aquaculture, rural villages, malls, gated housing, industrial estates, golf courses). They also provide ecosystem services such as regulating climate, natural hazards, water quality and waste, as well providing natural habitats and opportunities for recreation. Our research aims to demonstrate the urgency of considering urban and rural modes of living together, the benefits that can accrue if they were more deeply integrated, and to show how this might be achieved through the development of sustainable urban-rural systems.


We collaborate with communities (Kampung Batu Besar, Batam), academics (Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, China), governments (Indonesia’s Ministry of Agrarian and Spatial Planning) and development agencies (Asian Development Bank, World Bank, SECO).


We do so to coproduce knowledge, designs and strategies for sustainable urban-rural systems. We focus on case study sites in Indonesia, India, Bangladesh and India. We develop innovative planning approaches, design necessary building types, integrate technologies (water, energy, mobility and information), and consider the governance systems that pertain to our case study sites. Our work that takes the form of academic texts, design proposals, 1:1 pilot constructions, strategic plans and planning support tools.