Efficiency by Design: Comparing 4 Cities

21 August 2019

The Resource Urbanisms project that LSE Cities led, between 2015 and 2017, focused on two natural resources, land and energy, and explored their relationships with urban form, transport and housing. It analysed these relationships through a comparative case study approach focusing on the city of Kuwait and Abu Dhabi in the GCC, and Hong Kong and Singapore in East Asia. 

The key findings of this research were:

1. The shape of cities has a considerable impact on resource efficiency, making it a critical factor for global sustainability.

2. There are fundamental differences between the city models examined in the Gulf States compared to those in East Asia.

3. All cities displayed considerable intra-urban differences that exceed initial expectations.

4. All four cities have become denser since 2000, but historically have been going through phases of densification and de-densification.

5. All four cities rely on active state intervention and have been shaped by intentional policy, planning and infrastructure development.

6. Natural resources, above all land, play a central role in determining urban form at the macro and micro scale.

7. Energy prices have a more nuanced and indirect impact on the nature of urban growth.

8. Non-resource factors impacting urban development were found to be critical, complex and often interrelated.

9. In terms of energy consumption, the study confirms that high-density, compact, mixed-use and public transport-oriented cities are more efficient than low density cities that are dependent on private vehicles.

10. Cooling energy efficiency is centrally driven by compact urban morphologies and building designs.

11. Transport energy efficiency is closely related to density, mixed-use and public transport availability.