About Peak Urban

The challenge

Continuing urbanisation comes, particularly across the global South, with new and intensified challenges around environmental and social sustainability. Goal 11 of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable – represents the first time that cities have formally been identified as both crucibles of development challenges and the engines of development change. It nonetheless remains unclear how optimal urban outcomes are to be achieved, especially for cities where the pace of urban change is greatest, resources are most limited, the governance arrangements are complex and formal knowledge about how the city works is patchy. Yet, over the next decade or so, finding solutions to urban challenges that are most acute in the cities of Africa, Asia and Latin America will disproportionately determine sustainable development outcomes for the planet as a whole.



The PEAK Urban programme aims to build skilled capacity for decision making on urban futures by:

  1. Generating new research grounded in the logic of urban complexity
  2. Fostering new leaders that draw on different disciplinary perspectives to address the challenges found in the 21st century city
  3. Growing the capacity of cities to understand and plan their own futures

In PEAK Urban, cities are understood as complex evolving systems that are characterised by both path dependency and the propensity to generate innovations in material forms, institutional arrangements, technology, culture and behaviour. Big data and mathematical models will be combined with insights from institutional social science, law, humanities and history to focus on three key arenas of metropolitan intervention: city morphologies (built forms and infrastructures) and resilience, city flux (mobility, dynamics) and technological change, health and wellbeing.