The Grand Projet: Towards Adaptable and Liveable Urban Megaprojects

Exploring the characteristics and mechanisms of large urban projects as agents of development and redevelopment in contemporary cities.


In Asia as well as the Americas and Europe, Grand Projets are a key form of contemporary urban development alongside incremental processes of urbanisation. Defined as central, large-scale, mixed use, master-planned urban projects, they have the capacity to provide qualitative environments for urban residents and foster environmental, social and economic sustainability.


In practice Grand Projets are prone to several criticisms: functional compartmentalisation, extreme control of inhabitants, poor quality public space, inhibiting social and economic interaction, negative impacts on surroundings, and gentrification. Nonetheless, we maintain that the combination of top-down with bottom-up processes in urban development can make Grand Projets more adaptable to changing circumstances and offer higher standards of liveability to their residents and visitors.


Observing a shift from comprehensive to strategic planning and design over the past decades, we explore which practices work better, in what relation with their context, and by what processes. Researching cases on five continents, we evaluate Grand Projets as a whole, taking into account process, urban design and management. This research investigates the Grand Projets as agents of urban development and redevelopment. It asks whether and how choices between control and laissez-faire approaches in their design, planning, and management can effect to their surroundings and the larger metropolitan context.


Selected projects are documented by a research team that includes senior design experts with experience in the realisation of such projects. Social science research methods are combined with novel data and formal analysis, as the projects are rendered in three-dimensional digital models that allow for analysing, comparing, simulating, and visualising. Parallel to the comparative research of global Grand Projets this project develops design-based scenarios for the site of the Tanjong Pagar Waterfront, which will be transformed into a future oriented new quarter in Singapore.

Raffles City Singapore. Image: www/sicog2015.com/venue/Venue

The Grand Projet