MONTREAL--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The COVID pandemic is forcing cities the world over to transform the configuration of their public spaces and services to ensure the health and safety of their citizens. They will also be looking at ways to reclaim their economic and cultural vibrancy once the pandemic is under control. Many aim to take action while maintaining their commitments to adopting more ecologically sustainable practices. These are the types of challenges that inform research within the newly established Next-Generation Cities Institute at Concordia University.
The Institute draws together more than 200 researchers within 14 Research Centers reaching across disciplines from science and engineering to the arts and humanities. Their work focuses on a variety of subjects, including zero-carbon infrastructure, improved mobility of people or goods, and development of innovative technologies and smart services.
“We’re incredibly excited about this new initiative,” says Concordia President Graham Carr. “Sustainability is an issue of global importance and Concordia is committed to addressing it. The Next-Generation Cities Institute will be essential to mobilizing research to further our goals.”
More than 50 percent of the world’s population live in cities. By 2050, that proportion will rise to 75 percent, making the efficient design of cities all the more important.
“Cities are great places. Because of their density, they can be the most efficient and sustainable form of human development,” says Ursula Eicker, who holds the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities at Concordia.
“They generate most of the world’s gross domestic product and are the locus of innovation and productivity. At the same time, they are responsible for two thirds of carbon emissions. If we don’t transform cities worldwide, we’re going to have serious problems.”
Eicker has spent the past year establishing the Next-Generation Cities Institute, which she co-directs with Carmela Cucuzzella, Concordia University Research Chair in Integrated Design, Ecology and Sustainability for the Built Environment.
Because many of the factors affecting sustainable cities are interconnected, addressing the problems facing next-generation cities requires a unification of diverse research efforts.
“We think of the city as an ecosystem,” says Cucuzzella. “It’s about the resilience of the city, but that also means the resilience of the community.
“A large part of my own work is about establishing community-academic dialogue to foster new collective knowledge,” Cucuzzella adds. “The underlying vision is one where design becomes a critical and creative platform for an inclusive and collective making of the city.
“As an institute, we want to build new knowledge about the integrated, sustainable design of our urban environments, passing from the technical, to the built, to the socio-cultural qualities of the city, and we want this knowledge to be shareable with other cities around the world.”
Cucuzzella and Eicker say the Institute project is ambitious, and the challenges it faces go far beyond the technical and scientific so the work of the Institute has to reach beyond the university itself.
To read more about the Next Generation Cities Institute, click here: https://www.concordia.ca/news/stories/2020/11//16/concordia-launches-the-next-generation-cities-institute.html