How to Plan Tomorrow’s Cities?

By August 16, 2021August 26th, 2021Uncategorized

How to Plan Tomorrow’s Cities?

Brought to you by:






Context and Motivation

Today’s urban planning is more complex than ever: climate change, the housing crisis, natural hazards, and chronic disease mean that planning decisions must consider multiple objectives. Aotearoa New Zealand’s planning landscape is also shifting with the recent NPS on Urban Development, the likely introduction of the Strategic Planning Act, and climate risk requirements of the Zero Carbon Act. As a result, future development must enable sustainable and healthy lifestyles, reduce exposure to natural hazards and pollution, and promote equity and community cohesion, often among many other objectives.




To support this planning, we are developing a sophisticated tool that supports housing agencies, councils, and iwi to identify favourable areas for urban development or intensification that maximises the co-benefits between the community’s objectives.




We use a multi-criteria spatial optimisation approach using a genetic algorithm that evaluates and improves spatial plans based on the community-specific objectives and priorities. Our proof-of-concept tool currently discourages development in areas exposed to hazards and encourages development near key centres.



Partner with us

We seek partners (potential end-users), such as councils, iwi, and development agencies, with whom we can co-design this tool:

    1. Join our advisory board so we can provide you with updates on the project’s progress and seek regular input from you on what you require.
    2. Participate as a case study so we can develop the tools in your region, with your data, understanding your needs.

If you’d like to be involved or stay informed, please get in touch with Dr Tom Logan from the Civil System Engineering Department.

We also have an A4 informative flyer if you wish





Want to see the results of the current tool in action?


As a case study, we ran the tool using Ōtautahi Christchurch’s projected population increase with the following objectives:


Icons of the example objective functions for Christchurch

The objectives were weighted to be equally important, eg. being in a tsunami zone is equally as bad as being far away from key activity areas, only to show the effectiveness of the tool.

As seen below, the tool found priority areas for development/densification where there was clear evidence of decreasing exposure to natural and climate hazards, whilst increasing the distance to key activity areas and utilising residentially zoned land.