University of Cambridge > > Sustainability in the Built Environment (GreenBRIDGE) > An Urban Metabolism Approach to Modelling the Resource Performance of Cities

An Urban Metabolism Approach to Modelling the Resource Performance of Cities

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This seminar will describe a methodology developed for analysing the relationships between urban configuration and various descriptors of urban sustainability. With a transdisciplinary approach to understanding urban systems, the objective of this work is to develop a standardised method for the analysis of urban resource performance that can be applied to different cities and neighbourhoods around the world. The Greater London area is used as a case study in this research, which is conducted in two phases.

In the first phase, spatial and empirical data are used to establish a method for characterising typical urban clusters. As a result of shared aggregated descriptors of urban form, such as population density, plot ratio and site coverage, these clusters are then organised into various groups of urban tiles which reflect the urban configuration at the neighbourhood scale. Each group of urban tiles represents typical characteristics of urban texture and provides detailed information to be used for further analysis, such as land use percentages, building typologies, road areas and domestic garden areas, amongst others.

In the second phase of this study, the different urban tiles previously identified are used to analyse the relationships between urban configuration and resource performance. Urban configuration is described as the combination of urban morphology and land use, while resource performance accounts for material intensity of buildings, roads and railways, energy demand of buildings and transportation, and the potential for renewable energy generation within the city boundaries.

It is expected that the outcomes of this research will contribute towards the improvement of design guidelines for sustainable neighbourhoods, as well as in the development of effective regulations and policies for enhanced urban resource efficiency.


  • Juan Jose Sarralde PhD Candidate, University of Cambridge
  • David Quinn PhD Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • Daniel Wiesmann PhD Candidate, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal

Complimentary tea coffee and biscuits will be served

This talk is part of the Sustainability in the Built Environment (GreenBRIDGE) series.

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