Behind/Beyond future cities


Lecturer(s) :

Coccolo Silvia
Mauree Dasaraden
Scartezzini Jean-Louis




We are living in an urban world and the design of sustainable cities is essential in order to decrease our energy footprint. This course provides the instruments to understand the complex urban metabolism, as well as the solutions for planning future smart and sustainable cities.


We live in a world that is more and more urbanised (over 50% of the world population lives in cities since 2010) and architects, urban planners and other stakeholders have to rethink their projects to integrate them to an urban context. In the architecture curriculum at the Bachelor and Master level, students have been introduced to the fundamentals and principles of building science as well as other courses that focus on the urban scale. However, none of these courses focus on the physics behind metabolism and sustainability of future districts and cities. The objective of this course is to provide the instruments to understand and to quantify the urban metabolism, focusing on the urban climate, the buildings energy design and the liveability of the 'spaces between' buildings.



Learning Prerequisites

Recommended courses

Basic knowledge of physics.

Important concepts to start the course

Fundamental concept on Urbanism and Sustainability.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

Transversal skills

Teaching methods

The course is subdivided into two main parts: i) in class teaching and ii) a practical exercise. The teaching part is broken down into five main topics: i) the link between the building and the city scale, ii) the urban climate and the space between buildings, iii) the energy aspects, iv) the intangible aspects behind the city and finally v) a general perspective with reflections on how cities influence the national and global systems. The practical exercise consists in one-day monitoring study of the microclimate of the EPFL campus, focusing on the impact of the campus design on the energy demand of buildings and on the pedestrian's thermal perception.

Expected student activities

Students are expected to actively participate to the course. Each student will work on one-day monitoring study on the EPFL campus, focusing on the microclimatic conditions of the site. All the measurements will be collected, stored and shared between the students in an online platform. During the semester each group will analyse the monitoring data, and provide a comprehensive study on the assigned theme, as well as practical recommendations for the sustainable design of the campus.

Assessment methods

The evaluation is based on the active participation to the measurement campaign (20%), a written report (40%) and a final presentation (40%) of the work performed during the semester, based on the monitoring study.


Others Online virtual platform to store and share the acquired data



A comprehensive bibliography is provided during each course.

The following readings are recommended during the semester:

Erell, Pearlmutter, Williamson (2011). Urban Microclimate. Designing the Spaces between Buildings. Earthscan

Ng (2010). Designing High-density cities. For social and Environmental Sustainability. Earthscan

Robinson (2011). Computer Modelling for Sustainable Urban Design: Physical Principles, Methods and Applications. Earthscan

Santamouris (2016). Urban Climate Mitigations Techniques. Routledge

Ressources en bibliothèque

In the programs

Reference week

Under construction
      Exercise, TP
      Project, other


  • Autumn semester
  • Winter sessions
  • Spring semester
  • Summer sessions
  • Lecture in French
  • Lecture in English
  • Lecture in German