New Technologies and Ideas for Sustainable City Development (BYG655)

Disrupting new ideas often precedes disruptive new-engineered technologies or the two interact. The course aims at discussing such technologies and ideas and the many relationships between them, assuming that they will have a great impact on cities in the near and more distant future. If applied properly they could ensure a more sustainable development of cities. The course aims at studying some selected such technologies and ideas and to train our ability to detect them in advance and to apply them.

Course description for study year 2023-2024. Please note that changes may occur.


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The full day workshop based course is relevant to students interested in the disruptive technologies and ideas shaping our future. The five workshops will contain lectures, discussions and project work related to five connected main themes. A workshop 6 will contain a full day of student presentations of their final written delivery work. A mid term discussion on the work will take place during the last half of workshop 3.


Long term planning requires a deep understanding of how cities develop. Everything we do involves forecasting. Is it possible to forecast more precisely the changes ahead? If so, is forecasting the only tool available or can backcasting (setting out ambitious goals and then carry them through) also work?

Workshop 2 ETHICS

In order to develop truly sustainable cities we need to look at more than just technological improvements and greenery. How people meet in cities, how safe a city is also defines the quality of living. So does the level of corruption and other ethical challenges. A philosophical approach to the issue can help us clarify our thoughts.


The world is - in spite of many doomsday forecasts - a better place for the majority of people than 100 years ago. But what are the consequences of climate change? Are we acting too late and forced to focus on mitigation and adaptation, or can we still avoid dramatic climate change? Mid-term review and discussion of the on-going student work.


We study the latest projects of energy autonomous, zero carbon communities; both planned and built ones and their dependence on renewable energy. The immense possibilities offered by the price fall and technology improvements of renewable energy in combination with the battery revolution has led to a range of projects worth looking at; solar villages, solar planes, boats and buildings combining solar with other renewable technologies like wind power and heat pumps. But we also look at poor examples.

Workshop 5 NOTOPIA

The world has over time been blessed or cursed with visionary ideas normally referred to as Utopias. They offer hope and engagement that make us stretch our ability to see new possibilities. But sometimes they end up as extreme cases of centralised dictatorial straight jackets that rather than ending up as well working solutions, signals failure. We look at examples of both and focus on one particularly huge global challenge, like housing the poor and others with financial restraints to adhere to.


Students present their final delivery work. The final presentation does not count in the marking process.

Learning outcome


Having completed this course the students should be able to:

  • Understand and evaluate the prospects of different disruptive technologies.
  • Reflect critically to new technologies and new ideas.
  • Understand how new ideas and technologies interact with each other.
  • Reflect critically to forecasting but understand the possibilities it offers.


Having completed this course the students should be able to:

  • Master techniques to address analytical questions about future technologies.
  • Demonstrate advanced understanding of the impact of new technologies and ideas, how they fundamentally shift our use and perception of future possibilities.
  • Offer an expanded capacity to understand emerging technologies and ideas.
  • Participate in discussions in future classes and society at large.

General competence:

Having completed this course the students should be able to:

  • Explore new technologies and ideas with a critical distance.
  • Based on research presented and case studies discussed, formulate own ideas.
  • Communicate their ideas, calculations and thoughts through the format of workshop-discussions, demanding oral participation from all students.

Required prerequisite knowledge



Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Written assignment and oral presentation 1/1 Letter grades

The primary objective is to have individual deliveries. However, Group delivery can be considered by the teacher as the course proceeds if the number of students are relatively high.The assignment text is intended to be handed out during the first or second Workshop -preferably not later than September 15th. The delivery/deliveries are tentatively due during the last half of November.

Coursework requirements

Participation on workshops
Participation in at least 75% of the five main workshops is a condition to hand in the paper and have it evaluated.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Ana Llopis Alvarez

Course teacher:

David Chapman

Head of Department:

Tore Markeset

Open for

Admission to Single Courses at the Faculty of Science and Technology City and Regional Planning - Master of Science City and Regional Planning - Master of Science Degree Programme, Five Years Energy, Environment and Society - Master's Degree Programme Exchange programme at Faculty of Science and Technology

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course coordinator, the student representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital course evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


The syllabus can be found in Leganto