The Center for Advanced Urbanism (CAU) provides a home for faculty interested in collaborative research projects that will engage student participation. CAU is the umbrella for various existing research laboratories and faculty projects. It organizes collaborations between these labs and other MIT groups in order to foster a cross-disciplinary expertise.
City Science Initiative
City Science is a research group at the Media Lab focused on intelligent, sustainable buildings, mobility systems, and cities. It explores the application of new technologies to enable urban energy efficiency and sustainability as well as enhanced opportunity, equity, and cultural creativity. The group is particularly concerned with the emerging roles of networked intelligence in fabrication and construction, urban mobility, building design and intelligently responsive operation, and in public space. The research takes a broadly multidisciplinary approach, not constrained by traditional boundaries.
Civic Data Design Lab
The Civic Data Design Lab works with data to understand it for Public Good. We seek to develop alternative practices which can make the work we do with data and images richer, smarter, more relevant, and more responsive to the needs and interested of citizens traditionally on the margins of policy development. In this practice we experiment with and develop data visualization and collection tools that allow us to highlight urban phenomenon. Our methods borrow from the traditions of science and design by using spatial analytics to expose patterns and communicating those results, through design, to new audiences.
Housing & Community Lab
The Housing & Community Lab was established in 2006 to invent new models of city form and function to accommodate the hyper-rapid urbanization ongoing in Asia without sacrificing livability. Originally established in China more than 20 years ago as an iteration of the Beijing Urban Design Studio—a joint program between MIT’s School of Architecture + Planning and Tsinghua University—the Housing & Community Lab program expanded to India with a workshop and design studio in the southern town of Erode: subsequent studios were set in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Landscape and Urbanism: Around the Bay of Mumbai, a recent publication, summarizes this work.
Adèle Naudé Santos and faculty from SA+P
LOCUS-Lab (Low Carbon Urban Systems) is a design and research group interested in how cities and their associated systems respond to the demands of climate change through low carbon development. The Lab has recently developed projects that research the adaptive transformation of unsustainable urban communities; mapping the complexities of urban metrics for urban sustainability; and developing urban infrastructural responses to sea level rise and climate change. LOCUS-Lab is also strategically engaged in the Health + Urbanism project in collaboration with the AIA and CGI.
Mobility Systems is a cross-cutting research and education initiative in DUSP, which takes an integrative trans-disciplinary approach, aiming to better understand the fundamental relationships between mobility and the built and social environments, and using that knowledge to create sustainable systems. We have a multi-scale perspective - designing and developing interventions for neighborhoods, cities, regions, and mega-regions – and work globally to derive practical mobility innovations. We are currently involved in several large-scale, multi-year research projects, including Future Urban Mobility, as part of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), and the Bus Rapid Transit Center of Excellence.
Nepf Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab
The Nepf Environmental Fluid Mechanics Lab explores the physical mechanisms that shape shallow water ecosystems, such as rivers, wetlands, and coastal zones, with a particular emphasis on vegetated systems. These ecosystems provide important services, including flood control, water quality improvement, habitat and coastal protection. Because of these services, efforts to restore vegetated ecosystems are accelerating around the world. At the same time, many cities and states are adopting managed wetlands to provide storm and waste water treatment with additional ecological benefits. However, the design of wetlands and sustainable restoration requires an understanding of the feedbacks between vegetation and flow structure. The goal of the Nepf Lab is to provide the physical understanding, from the blade scale to the reach scale, that is needed to restore and harness these valuable ecosystems.
New Century Cities
The New Century Cities is a joint research project among the Center for Real Estate, the City Design and Development Program, and the Smart Cities Group in the Media Lab that focuses on a new generation of very large scale development projects located at the intersection of technology, urban design, and real estate development.
P-REX is a groundbreaking design research lab developing non-traditional design solutions to push the boundaries of conventional practice and incorporate resilient thinking into large-scale strategic planning & design.
Platform for a Permanent Modernity
Platform for a Permanent Modernity is a research group for design and theoretical investigations into ideal forms of contemporary urbanism; at the moment they are performing a long-term study on Greater New York; each year they chart another part of the city with the aim of compiling a blueprint for the entire metropolitan area.
The POPlab (Prototypes of Prefabrication Laboratory) is a research laboratory established in 2012 to innovate the design and construction of our built environment, bridging the gap between science and art. From the scale of the building to the scale of the city, new typologies and construction systems are developed, implementing the logic of prefabrication to produce spaces thought for their users: functional and economic, efficient and innovative; poetic and real. Currently the lab is working on a series of urban prototypes, Supraextructures, which explore the active hybridization of architecture and infrastructure for a more vital construction and experience of the city.
Resilient Cities Housing Initiative
The Resilient Cities Housing Initiative (RCHI), directed by Professor Lawrence Vale, explores the role of shelter and settlement design in withstanding the 21st century environmental and security challenges of an urbanized and urbanizing world. At its core, RCHI investigates the challenges of developing and redeveloping the housing environments of the least advantaged dwellers in a city-region. In this context, the effort to design and sustain housing is about far more than the appearance of that housing; it is about the contested politics of its siting, programing, financing, policy, and integration with larger urban networks and the public realm. RCHI supports integrated scholarship, cross-disciplinary curriculum development, and innovative practice that bring together housing design, housing policy, urban design, environmental and energy policy, real estate development, new media technologies, and the visual arts.
Sustainable Design Lab
The Sustainable Design Lab's mission is to produce high quality fundamental and applied research that facilitates the design of resource-efficient and comfortable environments at the building and neighborhood scale. Our goal is to change current architectural practice by developing, validating and testing design workflows and performance metrics that lead to improved design solutions as far as occupant comfort and building energy use are concerned. The premise of our work is that a more informed design process will lead to better design choices and ultimately better performing buildings.
Urban Risk Lab
Operating as designers at the intersection of disaster management and risk engineering, hurricanes and earthquakes, ecology and infrastructure, rural and urban, research and action, the Urban Risk Lab is a cross-disciplinary organization of researchers and designers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology addressing the most challenging aspects of contemporary urbanization. The Urban Risk Lab is a place to research and innovate on technologies, techniques, materials, processes, and systems to reduce risk. We develop methods to embed risk reduction and preparedness into the design of the regions, cities and everyday urban spaces to increase the resilience of local communities.