This article is brought to you by the SUTD – Women x Tech & Design series.

For every new skyscraper built, a part of nature is taken away. The degradation of our natural environment is often the price we pay for modernisation.

As a greener world enthusiast, you can’t help but wonder: is there a way to allow urbanisation to happen while still preserving our environment?

If you aspire to be a woman innovator who seeks to balance progress with sustainability, you’ll find a balance for both at SUTD. Our mantra is “A Better World by Design”, and a large part of the betterment of the world is through sustainable architecture and design.

Imagine cities that use big data – everything from traffic patterns to information gleaned from social media – to design more human-centric spaces. We are developing plans for more liveable communities around the world, especially in places that are vulnerable to rising sea levels by using innovative new materials that have a smaller impact on the environment.

That’s why we emphasise on the knowledge of Arts, Sciences and Technological approaches to better understand issues such as climate change and human impact on the environment.

Data-informed city planning

Associate Professor Bige Tunçer, knows all too well the importance of building and planning cities efficiently. In large metropolises like Singapore, sustainable use of space while dealing with issues such as congestion and traffic are all challenges that urban planners face. As an Associate Professor of the Architecture and Sustainable Design (ASD) pillar and the director of the Informed Design Lab, Professor Tunçer is spearheading further study and research into the use of big data in city planning.

Among her many projects is a multi-year study on pedestrian walkways in the busier city areas. Working with a multi-disciplinary team of transportation engineers, cognitive psychologists and researchers from the Future Cities Lab, they use results from wide-ranging preference surveys to tweak the width and height of walkways. Putting the human experience at the heart of design is a key philosophy at SUTD, and Professor Tunçer and her teams are putting it into everyday practice.

Read more about how Professor Tunçer is turning Big Data into a powerful tool in architecture and design here.

Looking ahead to the future of sustainable design

Professor Tunçer’s collaborations with experts from different fields is aligned with SUTD’s mission to nurture problem-solvers who do not just tackle challenges in silos. Students at SUTD collaborate across disciplines to develop solutions with genuine impact. So while you might specialise in ASD, you’ll also get a more holistic view, which will set you apart when you embark on your career to make our world more environmentally sound.

For instance, our multi-disciplinary approach led to a very interesting community-based study. Assistant Professor Lyle Fearnley from SUTD’s Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences cluster recently developed Honk! – an app that connects karang gunis to households, which was a result of research into how the informal sector played a huge role in the recycling habits of Singaporean households, and the video interview with Assistant Professor Fearnley is definitely worth the watch.

SUTD’s collaborations also see us partnering with some of the leading centres of technical excellence around the world. The International Design Centre (IDC), an initiative by SUTD and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was created to bolster our efforts to advance design research and innovation. Read more about the IDC’s mission and facilities here.

Our rapidly changing world is in need of a rethink, especially if we’re to continue thriving amidst growing populations and expanding demand on an increasingly fragile natural world. At SUTD, we believe Design could be the answer to tomorrow’s environmental and societal challenges. With all the design skills that SUTD imbues in you, you will be the architect and urban designer of the future – one that will build more sustainable communities through the power of design and technology.

If the thought of being an innovator in this field and building a better world excites you, find out more about ASD here.

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