About Transforming Cities

Transforming Cities was a thematic research initiative of the University of Auckland, developed to promote interdisciplinary, transformative research about cities and the way they function. We operated across faculties and beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries, involving academic researchers from seven of the University’s faculties and a wide range of disciplines. Our research focused on examining urban institutional, technological, environmental and cultural innovations which contribute to making our cities better places to live and work.

Our central themes

  • Liveability: promoting excellent urban design and advancing planning for and provision of affordable, accessible, healthy and safe housing, recreational and cultural facilities, social services and related infrastructure and landscapes.
  • Sustainability: protecting and enhancing valued natural, built and cultural resources, environments and processes in the city.
  • Resilience: building capacity to absorb future multi-hazard shocks to the human and material functioning of a city with minimum damage to public safety and health, the economy, and security of citizens and visitors.
  • Governance: enhancing urban planning and management and streamlining administrative processes.
  • Productivity: harnessing and enhancing the energy, knowledge, skills and creativity of urban residents in productive economic activity.
  • Integration and efficiency: integrating land use and infrastructure and improving the efficiency of infrastructure.

These themes were represented in cross disciplinary research into: the health effects, equity barriers and facilitators of active transport; the role of anchor organisations and new forms of leadership in urban governance; business innovation and ethnic diversity; urban cycling; housing intensification and urban growth management; solar renewable energy potential; water and urban sustainability; urban greening; and spatial decision support systems and urban transportation.

Recently funded cross-disciplinary work supported by Transforming Cities included research development towards studies of: variability and valuing of trees and biodiversity in the city; urban food networks; new geographies of work; urban waterfront regeneration; the urban/digital nexus: participation, belonging and social media; public art and transformative social outcomes; the liveable university; Pacific climate change migration; the relationship between rental housing and children’s health and wellbeing; housing needs of vulnerable groups; new technologies and affordable housing; and imagining water sustainability. Many of these projects continue.

Find out about them on our research pages.

Our goal

An integral goal of the University's thematic research initiatives was to build collaborative networks and partnerships with external parties locally, nationally and internationally. We focused on strengthening our relationships with communities of interest including research institutions, private and public sector agencies, and research funders, so we can better understand and address complex urban sustainability questions and critical societal needs.

This work has now been taken up by the Urban Research Network.