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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 117 - Using an integrated resource management model

117 - Dongtan New Town, Shanghai, China

At Dongtan an integrated design approach is being adopted to enable delivery of a major sustainable city. The model identifies how the wide ranging technical inputs (transport, waste management, energy supply) can be optimised to deliver the desired sustainability performance objectives.

Arup's Integrated Resource Management (IRM) model was used to support the design decision-making process. The IRM approach enables multi-disciplinary design parameters that have the potential to influence sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs) to be input into a common data model. The model acts as an interface between the sustainability framework and the design, and by referencing underlying data inventories, can rapidly appraise a multi-disciplinary masterplan. Its real benefit is in using the model iteratively initially to compare different options and scenarios, and subsequently to optimise a selected design by a process of design-evaluate-refine.

Using the model includes:

  • Development of a sustainability appraisal framework comprising a set of objectives, KPIs and targets
  • Establishing targets that cover aspects of sustainability management – social, economic, environmental and natural resources

Dongtan is intended to deliver the world’s first zero carbon city. Using the model, the team were able to test different design scenarios to derive a zero carbon solution taking into account all significant contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. This involved, for example, design measures to dramatically reduce energy use in buildings and employing mixed use and density scenarios to reduce the need to travel.

Compact City

This cycle highlights the key relationships between form and space, buildings, energy and land take. It shows for example that building efficiently at higher densities with generous open space can reduce the land take and in turn energy requirements.

Liveable City

This cycle highlights the relationships between transport, land-use, air quality and health. It shows for example that mixing land uses reduces need for people to travel significant distances as they can walk or cycle to a range of facilities. This in turn improves health and air quality.

Socio-Economic Balance

This cycle highlights the relationships between inclusion, viability and employment / skills. It shows for example that having an inclusive place with a broad socio enconomic base would improve viability through the workforce’s wide range of skills. This in turn promotes a vibrant community with opportunities for all to improve.

Other Information

  • Location: Shanghai
  • Project Team: Shanghai Industrial Investment Corporation (SIIC), Masterplanner- Arup
  • Contact:


UDC2 Section -  Integrated Design


The Integrated Resource Model for Dongtan New Town illustrates how design parameters such as built form, environment and social issues have influenced sustainability.
have influenced sustainability.

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