Sustainability Science as the Next Step in Urban Planning and Design

  • Giles Bruno SioenEmail author
  • Toru Terada
  • Makoto Yokohari


The urban planning and design disciplines have repeatedly failed to build sustainable communities that are economically, environmentally, and socially viable and resilient. Sustainability science has the potential to be combined with the fields of urban planning and design, which primarily focus on the physical shape of the city, to develop new methodologies for building sustainable communities. To verify this, the present chapter aims to explore potential overlaps by identifying the field methodologies and focus of urban planners and designers, and that of sustainability scientists, through a multifaceted literature review. The narrative review carried out identified that methodologies applied within contemporary urban planning and design are not suitable to incorporate and solve underlying urban issues such as inequality or gentrification. The causes for this are likely related to the fundamental limitations present in urban planning, which has evolved from architecture, design, and engineering backgrounds that tend to have a specific vision of development predominantly dealing with design aspects and a focus on hard infrastructure. To overcome this issue, the authors discuss the potential role that sustainability science could play in opening up the field of urban planning and making it deal with underlying issues through the implementation of mixed methodologies (such as spatial analysis techniques, participatory tools, and qualitative or quantitative surveys) that can capture both the scientific reality and the contextual situation. Such mixed methods can provide a field researcher with broad problem identification tools, rather than focusing on specific physical and mostly morphological elements. In addition, the application of sustainability science could provide evidence for urban planning and design juries, inhabitants, and decision makers to make calculated long-term decisions. Essentially, the present chapter argues that sustainability science can shift the methodologies used within planning and design towards the use of scientifically-oriented methodologies that help decision-makers create sustainable communities.


Sustainability science Urban planning Morphology Mixed methodology Public participation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giles Bruno Sioen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Toru Terada
    • 2
  • Makoto Yokohari
    • 2
  1. 1.Graduate Program in Sustainability Science—Global Leadership InitiativeThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Urban EngineeringThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

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