The Centre has initiated three research programmes:

The Lee Li Ming Programme in Ageing Urbanism
Lead: Dr Belinda Yuen

The Lee Li Ming Programme in Ageing Urbanism aims to bring together a pluri-disciplinary research programme that seeks to study population ageing and the city. Ageing is one of the major challenges faced by Singapore and cities around the world. Ageing and urbanisation are two key trends shaping cities of the future. Yet, comparatively little research has been conducted on ageing in the development sphere. This research will analyse and enhance the current understanding of older people’s appropriation and needs in the city, develop innovative designs and solutions to meet those needs, and disseminate theoretically rich but practical and context-specific frameworks for action.

Understanding the Changing Needs of Singapore’s Older Population Project 
PI: Dr Belinda Yuen
Co-PI: Dr Yuen Chau
Team: Ms Parvathi Sanjeev Nair, Ms Penny Kong, Ms Sanjana Viswanath

This first project investigates the changing needs of Singapore’s older population in two key spaces – housing and recreation.

Commenced in 2013.

Publications & Presentations: (Click)


Urban form and non-work trip pattern: A study of Singaporean residents with a focus on seniors
PI: Dr Hou Yuting
Team: Ms Adithi Moogoor

Commenced in Jan 2017.

Publications & Presentations: (Click)


Visual art participation and ageing in Singapore
PI: Dr Belinda Yuen
Team: Ms Penny Kong

Commenced in Jan 2017.

An Evaluation of the Dementia-Friendly Communities Concept in Singapore
PI: Dr Anna Lane
Co-PI: Dr Belinda Yuen
Team: Ms Katherine Loh

Commenced in Feb 2017.

Publications & Presentations: (Click)


Design for Active Ageing: Walkability and the Built Environment
PI: Ms. Julienne Chen
Co-PI: Dr Joshua Comaroff
Team: Dr Corinne Ong, Dr Anna Lane, Ms. Adithi Moogoor

Commenced in Feb 2017.

The Chen Tianqiao Programme on Urban Innovation

The Chen Tianqiao Programme is designed around a better understanding of what innovation means in today’s cities, why it is so important to producing better outcomes, the multi-faceted processes and actors that propel it, and its implications for society and policy.

Sub-unit: Cities and Innovation
Lead: Dr John Powers
Team: Ms Julienne Chen

A major thrust under the Programme is Cities and Innovation. Cities around the world are seeking to enhance their status as global cities. They are increasingly doing so through economic and social development founded on innovation. Current debates on urbanisation, economic growth, and globalisation are fixated on the status and success factors of global cities in an increasingly competitive international system of cities. As a result, many of the underlying factors that give cities their unique characteristics, socio-economic form, and spatial form are subsumed into notions of cities as “leaders” and “followers.”

Cities and Innovation aims to research the unique traits – social, economic, scientific and technological, artistic and creative, as well as political and institutional – that are key drivers behind innovation in cities in 21st century economic development. A key goal of the programme is to study important connections between political and economic structures and processes, on one hand, and growth and social welfare outcomes in multiple contexts, on the other.

Commenced in May 2015.

Sub-unit: Smart Cities Lab
Lead: Mr Poon King Wang
Team: Dr Andy Zheng, Mr Christopher Lo, Ms Julienne Chen

Commenced in May 2015.

How can cities become and stay smart? The Smart Cities Lab under the Chen Tianqiao Programme on Urban Innovation at the Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities aims to answer this question by focusing on three thrusts :

(i) Smart People
How can smart cities develop smart people through work and education?

A city is only as smart as what its people do. They need to be smart too. Moreover, recent economic, social and political changes around the world has made one thing clear: even as we build better buildings, more intelligent transport and smarter homes, we must also innovate in the social institutions of work and education. Together, they develop the long term capabilities that will secure a smart city’s future.

(ii) Smart Tools
What tools do smart people need to build smart government, businesses, and communities?

A city is only as smart as what its people do with technology. It is not what technologies are, but what technologies do, and what we do with them that make them useful. Smart cities result from people transforming technologies into tools that deliver social and economic outcomes. These tools empower people, make more responsive policies, build more productive businesses, and enable more inclusive community engagement. All these can in turn ensure a society stays strong and prosperous, and not efficient but divided.

(iii) Smart Scaling
How can smart tools scale across a network of smart cities for greater impact?

Many smart city technology test-beds have difficulty scaling beyond the pilot phase. Cities and companies – especially small ones – also find it challenging to scale their innovations to the region and beyond. The faster and easier such tools and innovations can propagate across a network of cities, the greater their likely impact, and their potential to attract the resources needed.

The above three thrusts guide the projects that will be pursued. It is envisioned that each of the projects pursued will fall into at least two of the above thrusts.

(i) Smart Work and Education
Lead: Mr Poon King Wang
Collaborator(s): team members from Living with Technology: Future of Work, Education, and Healthcare

This project will explore a task-based approach to work and education, with the goal of helping people thrive better even as technology disrupts economy and society. It will build on the work in the NRF/MND-funded LKYCIC Future of Cities – Living with Technology: Future of Work, Education and Healthcare.

The project will have two components:
– examining in detail the relationship between tasks, skills, work, education technologies, and their contribution to employment growth;
– building prototypes of tools and databases to demonstrate their efficacy to help workers and students better prepare for disruption, and to better transition if and when they are displaced.

(ii) Smart and Scalable
Lead: Dr Andy Zheng
Collaborator(s): project-specific – see below

This project will explore how cities and companies can scale their innovative solutions (e.g. smart tools) from pilot phase to other cities. It will build on the experiences of a small set of emerging smart tools; it will also examine emerging models in areas such as the globalisation of expertise networks, sharing economy and e-commerce.

To explore the question for scale with speed, this project will convene discussions with interested entrepreneurs, scholars and policy makers, in an effort to search for answers. For the initial set of smart tools, the project has identified a few potential projects:

– Proposed IDC project on Smart Recycling with Dr Lyle Fearnley and Dr Corinne Ong (we are building on the work in the LKYCIC Future of Cities – Sustainable Futures project, and the LKYCIC Future of Cities – Living with Technology project);
– Potential collaboration with Aspiring Citizens Cleantech, on its data exchange for mobility services;
– Potential collaboration with a sharing economy company.

(iii) Community Engagement
Lead: Ms Julienne Chen

This project will explore how digital tools can expand community engagement, specifically how they can be used increase the number and representation of people engaged and the ways they are engaged. Research may range from understanding and leveraging the intrinsic motivations for people to engage, to explorations of the effectiveness and impact of different engagement digital tools – from simple tools such as text messaging and chatbots, to more elaborate platforms focused on urban informatics and using volunteered geographic information, sensors and digital technologies as a way to understand how people are engaging and interacting with the city in their everyday lives.

(iv) Enabling Social Resilience 2.0 – Harnessing the Spirit in Policy Making to Complement the Building of Systems for Smart Cities
Lead: Mr Christopher Lo

This project will explore how human-centric design considerations to enhance social resilience could be embedded into future Smart City policy making. Currently, we observe that urban planning is predominantly infrastructure focused. We want to study how social resilience considerations could impact urban planning and government policy making at four levels – as a Smart Nation, Smart City, Smart Teams, and Smart Worker.

We are now embarking on an era of disruptive changes. The dawn of the digital sharing economy continues to fundamentally change the rules of how the world and economies work. Yet we continue to operate on industrial age economy paradigms. New methods and approaches must be developed to support new ways of addressing traditional macroeconomic challenges of employment and income distribution.

Sustaining the survival of future Smart Cities remains a paramount concern for governments. How should we approach Smart city policies and investments to preserve or enhance the social fabric of these cities to ensure cities stay resilient in an era of disruptive change. Rather than adopting yesterday’s government knows best approach, how can we refresh our strategies to influence how governments of future cities develop, craft, and execute policies using digital economy approaches and methods enabled by technology. Known shocks, like climate change, energy and cyber threats, already impact government approaches to sustainable urban planning. Thus far, urban planners have done well to build the infrastructure-biased systems for smart cities. Yet, social resilience for Smart Cities is about cultivating and nurturing of the spirit – the human beings who live in future cities – beyond just the systems.

Future of Cities
Lead PI: Prof Chan Heng Chee

A series of studies examining the challenges facing Singapore in 25 years:

(i) Future Economy
PI: Dr John Powers
Team: Ms Esther Wong, Ms Dinithi Jayasekara

The study on ‘the economy’ is geared to examining the forces that will impact most crucially in the future on Singapore’s economy and its ability to generate broad-based, productivity-enhancing growth. Although the foreground of this analysis will be concentrated on the sources of robustness for a diverse and vibrant economy for the Singapore of the future, the background must be concerned with the nature of trade-offs that will necessarily accompany any form of economic transformation, as well as how the economic role of the state can evolve to manage new economic uncertainties. Lastly, the study will also aim to learn from a few select cities around the world in their experiences with urban economic restructuring and how they have managed to create the conditions for continued change and renewal.

Commenced in 2014.

(ii) Future Society – Imagining the New Diversity
PI: Dr Sharon Siddique
Co-PI: Prof Chan Heng Chee
Team: Mr Dominic Nishantha Cooray, Ms Irna Nurlina

Managing diversity will explore the impact of accelerated globalism and economic transformation on Singapore’s resident population. The CMIO diversity model which encapsulated Singapore’s first 50 years of nationhood may become less dominant in framing Singapore’s complex status as a city-nation in the next 25 years. We will explore what other societal cleavages may become more relevant, and what social forces may trigger changes in these identity markers. Finally, we will address the question of what “being Singaporean” may mean in future.

Commenced in 2014.

(iii) Data Economy
PIs: Mr Sree Kumar
Co-PIs: A/P Warren Chik
Collaborator: Dr Ng See Kiong
Team: Dr Teo Sin Gee

The data economy study focuses on how big data is being used to generate economic value. Personal data is now being collected though various means – cashcards, debit and credit cards, online transactions, and the like. This vast repository of data can have significant commercial use. For example, individuals can choose to sell data on their buying preferences, while commercial entities can trade on individual and collective profiles of buying behaviour, travel patterns, and service usage. The study will therefore attempt to define the data economy and its contours; examine how technology influences and shapes the structure of such an economy; raise issues on how individuals can monetise their personal data; identify the legal and institutional requirements to maintain a fair marketplace for the ensuing commercial transactions; and seek to understand how society will adapt and reconfigure its responses to the emerging contours of this new economic framework. A case study using transportation data obtained from the National Science Experiment and augmented with other data from the Land Transport Authority and EZ link will be used to explore some of these research questions.

Commenced in 2016.

(iv) Future Transportation
PI: Dr Lynette Cheah
Team: Dr Corinne Ong, Dr Hou Yuting, Dr Seyed Mehdi Zahraei, Mr Waqas Cheema

This future of transportation foresight study is diagnostic and prognostic in nature. The aim is to understand current circumstances, and to provide foresight on what could happen. We will examine both passenger and freight transport, on land only. The study will explore the following questions: What would future mobility be like in the city? How would technology enhance the urban travel experience? What technologies can make travel safer, easier, more cost-effective, more inclusive, and more pleasant?

The study will take into account unique aspects of the Singapore context – high-density, compact environment, intelligent transport systems, ageing population. It will also consider future travel demand, and how this is potentially affected by our future urban environment as well as work- and life-styles.

Commenced in 2014.

(v) Future Urban Typologies for Enhancing Liveability in Singapore
PI: Prof Thomas Schroepfer
Co-PIs: Dr Belinda Yuen, Mr Dietmar Leyk
Team: Dr Hou Yuting, Dr Lynette Cheah, Dr Seyed Mehdi Zahraei, Mr Ramesh Pillai, Ms Adithi Moogoor, Mr Aloysius Lian, Ms Sonja Berthold

The research is a component study of the LKY CIC The Future of Cities project. It will address the need for enhanced liveability of future urban environments and the need to build an inclusive, equitable city with a 25-year perspective. Future architecture, urban design and urban planning practice in Singapore will have to adopt new building and district typologies for high-density contexts. These new typologies will have to provide good accessibility to amenities and services, ensure good environmental comfort, better support future live-work arrangements, foster inclusivity in an increasingly diverse society, and ensure equitable provision of community facilities and services. They will also have to strengthen Singapore’s resilience to impacts of climate change and potential shocks (e.g. strengthen physical infrastructure to be sufficiently robust and provide for necessary mitigation and adaptation measures in Singapore’s land use planning and development). Density and sustainability (in the broad sense of the word) in these new urban typologies will not be seen as contradictory but rather as mutually dependent and synergistic.

This research will contribute to the knowledge about how new urban typologies can improve Singapore’s environment by mitigating negative effects of high density. It will capture environmental, social, architectural, economic and aesthetic benefits of new urban typologies systematically.

Commenced in 2015.

(vi) Sustainable Futures
PIs: Dr Dawn Tan
Co-PI: Dr Lyle Fearnley

Team: Dr Corinne Ong, Dr J. Alstan Jakubiec, Dr Kwan Wei Lek, Dr Ong Eng Shi, Dr Kelvin Ooi, Ms Selina Patra, Ms Steffie Whaung

This two-year project sheds light on securing a sustainable future in Singapore by focusing on sustainable daily living in the next 25 years. It first focuses on the theoretical approach to define what “sustainability” means in Singapore and seeks to arrive at a Singapore-centric sustainable living framework. The second stage links empirically the framework to two carefully-chosen everyday behaviours of Singaporeans that involves resources consumed and at high risk of overuse, which are conserving (waste management) and cooling. This project adopts an interdisciplinary approach in addressing these issues through collaboration between experts in urban planning, social science, building science, and material science.

Commencing in 2016.

(vii) Living with Technology – Future of Work, Education, and Healthcare
PI: Mr Poon King Wang
Co-PIs: Dr Hyowon Lee, Dr Lim Wee Kiat, Dr Mohan Rajesh Elara
Team: Dr Marie Chae Youngjin, Ms Gayathri Balasubramanian, Mr Aaron Yong, Mr Raymond Yeong

Author and activist Jane Jacobs wrote that “[c]ities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” In and through digital technologies, cities now have that capability, and everybody can create. This transforms urban innovation and our future. We now digitally connect and interact in new ways within the city, across cities, and with the world. Cities now transcend the physical.

That is why we focus on the future of work, education, and healthcare. Each is a social institution where many of our interactions and connections are forged.  They also build the human capabilities that enable people to live flourishing lives. They shape so much of who we are and what we do in cities. Moreover, advanced digital technologies are raising pressing questions about the future of work, education and healthcare. Will jobs be created or destroyed? Will education and healthcare be disrupted? Will there be new digital divides? These questions need answers. How we answer them determines the future of our citizens and cities.

Commenced in 2014. A working draft of our research and findings on the future of work, education and healthcare can be found at

(viii) Future Digital Economies and Societies
PI: Mr Poon King Wang

Future Digital Economies and Societies examines the impact of digital technologies on our economies and societies. It will build on the work of the Smart Cities Lab (under the Chen Tianqiao Programme in Urban Innovation) and the foresight/futures project Living with Technology – Future of Work, Education and Healthcare (under the Future of Cities Programme). It will explore economic and social issues around the accessibility, affordability and adoption of digital innovations by citizens, communities, companies, cities and countries. It will also explore the combinatorial possibilities of different digital advances to yield new insights into systemic opportunities to create economic and social value. Future Digital Economies and Societies thus aims to be a guide to how we can transform ourselves in the face of digital disruption.

In addition, the Centre has completed two research projects:

Asian Port Cities
PI: Dr Sharon Siddique

Asian Port Cities aims to provide a more complete picture of the various broad and interlinking components of the structures, governance, and technological innovations of Asian port cities and their networks. The research will contribute to a critical but understudied field, and is of relevance to Singapore, the Asian region, and globally.

Commenced in 2013.

Publications: (Click)

Dense + Green
PI: Prof Thomas Schroepfer

Contemporary architecture and urban design practice is increasingly exploring the integration of green spaces in large-scale buildings, producing new typologies for high-density contexts that include extensive sky terraces, vertical parks, roof gardens and other “green” components. Combinations of all these, often applied to mixes of residential, civic, and commercial programs, conjoin at times to produce “vertical cities” in which the building section becomes what the horizontal plane has entailed up to now. Density and sustainability here are not seen as contradictory but rather as mutually dependent and synergistic. Dense + Green explores this new relationship between the built and the natural by providing conceptual foundations as well as design solutions. This is a book project with Birkhäuser and will be published by late 2015.

Commenced in 2012.

Publications: (Click)