Establishing and achieving sustainable targets in Eastern Chinese cities


China’s urbanization can be considered one of the biggest and most successful projects of mankind. Never before have so many people relocated to or live in cities and urban regions and never before have have so many people experienced such a significant improvement of their living standards and socioeconomic opportunities in such a short time. At the same time, the ongoing and rapid urbanization in China produces unsustainable development patterns with increasing negative effects on the livelihood and the environment – in particular in fast developing regions. Understanding regional settlement types along urban rural gradients and in their interrelation can be considered a new approach to sustainable urban development, since it allows the integrated holistic understanding of interrelated settlements in regions.


The project East Cities develops integrated, data driven, scientifically validated, inter- and transdisciplinary founded, cross-scale and -sector, sustainable development scenarios decoupling human development from negative environmental, social and economic impact as it has been defined as one of the major challenges to advance urban sustainability in China.


In focusing on “large cities”, ranging between one and five million people inhabitants, the international, interdisciplinary consortium of Chinese and German architects and urban planners, landscape-, water-, and traffic planners, engineers, economists, information scientists, and geoecologists targets a specific city type, that in light of the size and number of these cities – and as urban complimentary to the megacities and -regions – embodies a large potential for a more sustainable and balanced development of the urban system as a whole, and lay long outside the planning focus.


We aim to analyze the Province of Qingdao, China within each of our respective disciplines and bring together each analysis under the Topoi method. The Topoi method was developed within the Metapolis project, ISU-led research on sustainable land use patterns in German regions. Through the Topoi method we are able to gain a better understanding of rural-urban settlement patterns and relationships by redefining the boundaries of Cities, Towns, Villages, etc. By breaking from the politically created boundaries and redrawing the borders through a morphological approach we are able to more accurately define and analyze urban and rural settlements.


Pockelsstr. 3 (12th floor)
38106 Braunschweig

E: isu@tu-braunschweig.de

T: +49 (0) 531 391-3537
F: +49 (0) 531 391-3534


Project number: 01LE1806A


Workshops interlink ongoing research activities and strengthen the interdisciplinary collaboration

The EAST-CITIES research group regularly conducts interdisciplinary workshops to jointly develop research objectives, to acquaint each other with methods and approaches of their respective disciplines and to discuss results of ongoing research activities. The close cooperation makes it possible to use synergies in common issues such as information procurement. Another important aspect, of course, is the integration of research results and the joint advancement of multi-scale perspectives. A state of the art video conference system and digital work environment allows the collaboration across space.

Tongji University and TU Braunschweig are signing Memorandum of Understanding

On the occasion of the anniversary celebration of the CDHK the Vice President of Tongji University Prof. Dr. Wu, the Dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning Prof. Li, the President of the TU Braunschweig Prof. Dr. Kaysser-Pyzalla and the spokesperson of the core research area “FUTURE CITIES” as well as head of the EAST-CITIES project Prof. Dr. Carlow signed a Memorandum of Understanding. This was followed by the opening of the liaison office of the TU Braunschweig at the Tongji Campus. In a jointly organized public symposium, current research and challenges have been discussed across disciplines.

TU Braunschweig’s EAST CITIES Group is visiting College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Delegates of TU Braunschweig’s EAST-CITIES Group have been received by the dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning Prof. Dr. Li and project coordinator Prof. Dr. Nannan Dong to discuss the collaboration and next steps within the international research project. Meeting with direct partners of the Sino-German research teams such as Prof. Dr. Zhou allowed to elaborate on joint research interests. A guided tour allowed insights into CAUP’s impressive infrastructure in the fields of robotics and digital fabrication or the Experiment Center of Smart City headed by Prof. Dr. Wu.

Research Teams

In this context of fast urbanization combined with unsustainable development patterns, the interdisciplinary team of researchers from Tongji University, Shanghai, (TONGJI), Technische Universität Braunschweig (TU-BS) and Leibniz University Hannover (LUH), together with regional application partners in China focus the integrated development of “large cities”, including their different urban districts, the hinterland, and the interconnecting infrastructure systems and landscape.

With innovative, inter- and trans-disciplinary tools and methods developed by the team, integrated strategies for sustainability of the urban system at large are devised. This new planning approach to large cities will be capable to counteract the undesirable social, economic and environmental effects of current urbanization patterns. Therefore, competencies answering to the manifold, complex, multi-scale and cross-sector challenges of sustainable regions are bundled in the project consortium. The academic team consists of three large research clusters respective centers within the three universities, each comprising a wide range of competencies relevant for the project call:
The participating members of the core research area Future Cities (SDZ) of TU Braunschweig (www.tu-braunschweig.de/stadtderzukunft) combine expertise in the fields of sustainable architecture, urban planning and design (Prof. Carlow, ISU), energy design and resource in the built environment (Prof. Fisch, IGS), traffic planning (Prof. Siefer, IVE), and water management (Prof. Dockhorn, ISWW), as well as urban manufacturing (Prof. Herrmann, IWF).


The second research team is formed by members of the Automotive Research Centre Niedersachsen (NFF). The research fields of the NFF (www.tu-braunschweig.de/nff) focus on sustainable mobility in urban regions. Relevant competences of the NFF for the EAST-CITIES project are the development of innovative, flexible, low-carbon mobility and vehicle concepts (Prof. Vietor, IK) and through attached scientific partners Urban Logistics (Prof. Spengler), and Software Systems (Prof. Rausch). L3S Research Center of LUH, headed by Prof. Nejdl (www.l3s.de) compliments SDZ and NFF in the project. LS3 member and Principal Investigator  Prof. Stefan Dietze brings in expertise and tool sets for harvesting large-scale data, information ex-traction and data analysis, including a cluster computing infrastructure (Hadoop) to facilitate high-performance data processing and analysis.


The Chinese project consortium is constituted of one of the best ranking universities worldwide and regional application partners: The College of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP), TONG-JI, is recognized as a world-leading international academic center. CAUP comprises the departments of Architecture, Urban Planning, and Landscape Studies, which are all represented in the project consortium. The CAUP team is complimented by the Clean Energy Automotive Engineering Center (CEAEC) within the School of Automotive Engineering of TONGJI and UNEP TONGJI Institute of Environment for Sustainable Development (IESD) within the College of Environmental Science and Engineering. IESD conducts, e.g. research on climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, harmful substances, resource efficiency and environmental conditions assessment. As the National Fuel Cell Vehicle and Powertrain System Research and Engineering Center of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), CEAEC establishes the technical plat-form for developing and evaluating clean energy vehicles.


Principle Investigators



Prof. Dr. Vanessa Miriam Carlow, TU Braunschweig
Institute for Sustainable Urbanism ISU



Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christoph Herrmann, TU Braunschweig
Institute of Machine Tools and Production Technology



Prof. Dr.Ing. Thomas Wilken, TU Braunschweig
Institute for Building Services and Energy Design


Prof. Dr.-Ing Stefan Dietze, Universität Düsseldorf
Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Member of L3S



Prof. Dr.Ing. Thomas Siefer, TU Braunschweig
Institute of Transport, Railway Construction and Operation


Prof. Dr. -Ing. Thomas Dockhorn, TU Braunschweig
Institute of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering



Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Vietor, TU Braunschweig
Institute for Engineering Design




Prof. Dr. LI Zhenyu, Tongji University
Dean of
College of Architecture and Urban Planning CAUP


Prof. Dr. Jian ZHUO, Tongji University
Associate Chair, Department of Urban Planning
College of Architecture and Urban Planning


Ass. Prof. Dr. DONG Nannan, Tongji University
Department of Landscape Architecture
College of Architecture and Urban Planning


Prof. Dr. Hongtao Wang, Tongji University
UNEP TONGJI Institute of Environment
for Sustainable Development


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