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URA launches Urban Lab with exhibition by Future Cities Laboratory

About the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA)

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is Singapore's national land use planning and conservation agency. URA's mission is "to make Singapore a great city to live, work and play". We strive to create a vibrant and sustainable city of distinction by planning and facilitating Singapore's physical development in partnership with the community.

As the main land sales agent for the State, our multifaceted engagement strategy includes the sale of State land to attract and channel private capital investment to develop sites for meeting our land use needs. As the place manager for Marina Bay, we promote exciting activities within Marina Bay in collaboration with other government agencies and private stakeholders. To create an exciting cityscape, URA also actively promotes architecture and urban design excellence. For more information, please visit us at

About Future Cities Laboratory

The Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) is committed to develop new knowledge, innovative technologies and practical solutions to make cities more sustainable. Integrating science, technology, and design, FCL studies cities at multiple scales: buildings, neighbourhoods, districts, cities, and their hinterlands. Based in Singapore, FCL is strongly supported by ETH Zurich departments of Architecture and Civil Engineering, and draws on the expertise and energy of over 120 local, Swiss and international scientists, architects and planners. It is a vibrant hub for advanced research, and collaborates closely with government agencies, industry, academic partners, and the community, with the aim of bringing knowledge to action.
FCL is the first research programme of the Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) for Global Environmental Sustainability - a co-initiative by ETH Zurich and Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF), as part of the NRF’s CREATE campus. SEC launched its second research programme - Future Resilient Systems (FRS) in 2014. For more information, please visit

  Published: 23 January 2015

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced the opening of Urban Lab, a new dedicated exhibition space for research. Urban Lab brings to the public and industry practitioners innovative and exciting research and development (R&D) ideas and solutions that are developed in Singapore to help address urban challenges and create a more sustainable and liveable urban environment.

Officially launched today by Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry, Urban Lab opened with its inaugural exhibition, ‘Future Cities: Research in Action’ by the Future Cities Laboratory of the Singapore-ETH Centre.

To realise the potential of research to benefit the wider community, URA, LTA and the Singapore-ETH Centre also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to further develop a transport analysis model for Singapore, called the Multi-Agent Transport Simulation Toolkit Singapore (MATSim Singapore). MATSim Singapore simulates travel patterns based on how individuals make travel decisions, specific to their profile and needs. Having a good understanding of travel patterns allows planners to cater for better transport networks and ultimately create more pleasant travel experiences for commuters. Refer to Annex 1 [PDF, 167kb] for more details of the MOU and MATSim Singapore.

Bringing ideas out of the labs, into the community

Singapore has nurtured a strong research eco-system comprising the academia, research institutions, industry practitioners and public agencies working in close collaboration with stakeholders to build even more liveable and sustainable cities. Through the efforts of the National Research Foundation, leading universities such as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and Duke have collaborated with local partners and established centres in Singapore undertaking research in various fields such as urban sustainability and medicine. By hosting Urban Lab, URA hopes to facilitate an inclusive platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration between research entities, private sector partners and public agencies, to share ideas, test-bed solutions, forge partnerships and implement practical innovations to improve the living environment for our people.

“The Urban Lab is a space for researchers to showcase their work to practitioners and the community. I hope that it will bring about more collaboration on urban solutions, and help translate good research ideas into practice. The partnership with REDAS is especially important. We will need the support of the private sector to implement new ideas,” said Mr Ng Lang, Chief Executive Officer of the URA.

The Real Estate Developers Association of Singapore (REDAS) has extended its generous support to the Urban Lab initiative. REDAS President Mr Chia Boon Kuah said: “REDAS is delighted to be a supporting partner for Urban Lab. With this new collaborative platform, agencies, research institutes and the private sector can have another avenue to share ideas on how to turn such research ideas into practicable solutions for Singapore. We foresee many exciting collaboration opportunities and possible market applications for the innovative R&D efforts showcased in Urban Lab.”

Innovative research to help create better cities

Innovations in technology, greater availability of data streams, and improved understanding of the impact of urban systems on the quality of life have enhanced our knowledge of what it takes to build better cities for the future. Over the years, the government has invested many resources and built up cross-disciplinary capabilities to carry out, experiment, test-bed and implement R&D initiatives.

URA supports these R&D initiatives. Among the various R&D collaborations, URA is also experimenting with the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and geospatial analysis to facilitate our planning work and continuously improve our living environment. For example, URA has been using 3D GIS layers to simulate and analyse the actual built environment so that planners can implement planning proposals that benefit users. In addition, URA has published geospatial applications for public use, including My Conservation Portal and the Development Register where public can quickly and easily access information on conservation buildings and planning development decisions.

Future Cities: Research in Action

The ‘Future Cities: Research in Action’ exhibition by the Future Cities Laboratory (FCL) of the Singapore-ETH Centre spotlights the potential of research in providing practical solutions for a more sustainable urban future. Based on strong transdisciplinary perspectives that span the fields of architecture, engineering, natural and social sciences, the exhibition presents the work of 120 FCL researchers over four years.

Highlights include studies on transportation planning and walkability in Singapore; visualisation and simulation tools to aid urban planning; the use of robotics in the design and fabrication of high-rise buildings; urban design proposals for Rochor and Lavender; the efficient use of back lanes of shop houses; and studies of the hinterland of Singapore-Johor-Riau, among others.

In conjunction with the exhibition, FCL has put together a line up of talks and tours, where FCL researchers will share more about their work on specific topics and projects such as Singapore’s transportation planning, robotics in architecture and construction, to simulation as a tool for scenario-testing, among others.

Prof Dr Peter Edwards, Director of the Singapore-ETH Centre, said, “For over four years, members of the Future Cities Laboratory have been undertaking research in close collaboration with policy-makers, industry, academic partners and the community. The launch of Urban Lab provides a timely opportunity for FCL to share its experience and present practical solutions aimed at making cities more sustainable.”

‘Future Cities: Research in Action’ is held from 23 January to 13 March 2015 and admission is free. More details on FCL and the exhibition can be found in Annex 2 [PDF, 235kb].

Exciting line up of exhibitions

URA is working closely with the local and international research community to bring a series of exciting exhibitions to Urban Lab all year round. Visitors to the Urban Lab can look forward to diverse urban research ideas and solutions, such as how 3D geospatial mapping and visualisation tools, and unmanned aerial vehicles can provide innovative insights to the way we plan cities.

Jointly issued by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Future Cities Laboratory of the Singapore-ETH Centre