Learn how data and information impact the design, sustainability and resilience of future cities. This self-study course is not actively moderated. You can view the course for free, but questions will not be answered and there is no guarantee that the content will be available or updated.

Course Details

Language English
Duration 10 weeks
Effort 3 hours/week

Cities are first and foremost built for people, and in today’s world, people produce large amounts of valuable data, thus contributing to what we call “smart cities." As almost every building and every city is a prototype, these communities are in the early stage of development and require specific attention and expertise as we advance.
Smart cities, such as Zurich and Boston, consist of human-made structures or environments that are, in some capacity, monitored, metered, networked and controlled. With this functionality, combined with stationary sensors and mobile devices, data and information have become the new building materials of future cities. Using this data, citizens are now beginning to influence the design of future cities and the re-design of existing ones.
In this architecture course, you will learn the basics of information cities and urban science research, as well as how dynamic behavior and citizen-driven learning differentiate the responsive city from the smart city. The cities we present and develop in this course use the stocks and flows of information as the main drivers of change.
To deepen your knowledge of smart cities and give a perspective on the future of these cities, we also introduce the concept of citizen design science, a combination of citizen science, urban design, and cognitive design computing. Participants will furthermore have unique access to a design research platform for citizen design science. The intelligent use of data and information is at the core of this course, and these concepts will be the next generation of participatory design and design computing environments.
This course is part of the Future Cities's XSeries, and builds on the experiences from our first two urban MOOCs: Future Cities and Livability in Future Cities.

What you will learn

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Understand the concept of smart cities, why these are still prototypes and what the challenges are.

  • Identify the principle of stocks and flows of information in cities at different scales.

  • Understand the concept of citizen design science and its importance for responsive cities.

  • Understand the concept of complexity science in the context of architecture and city planning.

  • Learn through citizen design science how you can interact and get involved in the planning of your own cities.

  • Articulate what a responsive city is, and identify the criteria for a city to be responsive.

Course instructors

Bige Tunçer

Bige Tunçer is an associate professor at Singapore University of Technology and Design. She leads the Informed Design Group, which focuses on data collection, information and knowledge modeling and visualization, for informed architectural and urban desig…

Christoph Hölscher

Christoph Hölscher is Professor of Cognitive Science at ETH Zurich since 2013; previously assistant and extra-curricular professor at University of Freiburg, Germany, Center for Cognitive Science. Doctorate (2000) and Habilitation (2009) in Psychology at …

Dirk Helbing

Dirk Helbing is Professor of Computational Social Science at the Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences and affiliate of the Computer Science Department at ETH Zurich. He earned a PhD in physics and was Managing Director of the Institute …

Estefania Tapias

Estefania Tapias is Postdoctoral fellow and Lecturer at the Chair of Information Architecture, ETH Zurich. Her research is focus on Information Cities and climate-sensitive urban planning. Estefania attained her doctoral degree at ETH Zurich and obtained …

Kevin Schawinski

Kevin Schawinski (born 1981) is Professor of galaxy and black hole astrophysics at ETH Zurich and the co-founder of the Galaxy Zoo online citizen science project, which has engaged over half a million people in scientific research. His research focuses on…

Markus Schläpfer

Markus Schläpfer is currently leading the Urban Complexity project at the ETH Future Cities Lab in Singapore. After receiving his PhD from ETH Zurich in Mechanical Engineering, he conducted postdoctoral fellowships at MIT's Senseable City Lab and at the S…

Gerhard Schmitt

Gerhard Schmitt is Professor of Information Architecture at ETH Zurich, leader of the ETH Future Cities Laboratory Simulation Platform, Founding Director of the Singapore-ETH Centre in Singapore, and ETH Zurich Senior Vice President for ETH Global. His re…

ETH Zurich

Freedom and individual responsibility, entrepreneurial spirit and open-mindedness: ETH Zurich stands on a bedrock of true Swiss values. Our university for science and technology dates back to the year 1855, when the founders of modern-day Switzerland crea…

58 instructors