Smart Cities Research Institute

The Smart Cities Research Institute will focus on the grand challenges facing large, fast-growing cities (in Australia and around the world).

These include demographic challenges, barriers to prosperity and drivers of adverse environmental outcomes. The Institute’s competitive advantage is its unique trans-disciplinary and socio-technical approach to solutions.

The Institute will focus on making cities accessible to their resident populations; reducing congestion and enhancing economic productivity; decarbonising urban travel; and improving human health. The Institute will bring together Swinburne’s world-class expertise with the know-how of our key partners in government and industry to examine two overarching objectives:

  • identifying and removing the barriers to the scale-up and acceleration of urban innovation
  • developing disruptive interventions and technologies to leap-frog or create step-changes in key urban domains.

Research themes

Our four research themes central to sustainable urban development will define the Institute's problem space.

New urban governance

Our research aims to empower urban policy makers with new data and analysis to improve governance. This will help remove barriers to accelerating transitions to sustainable, low-carbon, equitable and healthy cities. To examine this theme, we will investigate challenges such as: new forms of governance to engage people effectively; how democratic institutions can enable governance; improving conversations between citizens, experts and policy-makers; new methods of accountability and feedback; and questions of equality, affordability, sustainability and resilience.

Future urban mobility

To make cities accessible to their resident populations we will draw on our expertise in: complex systems modelling of existing land-use and transport in cities and alternative urban forms/densities; transport demand/supply modelling; emerging and future modes of urban mobility; social surveys (CATI), data mining, econometric and choice modelling; low- or zero-emission transport solutions; and smart mobile citizenry.

Smart spaces for home and work

Creating smart spaces for home and work involves the micro-scale redesign of indoor environments in anticipation of changing demographics and industry futures. To examine this theme, we will draw on expertise in: the changing space and service needs of aging urban populations such as dementia, disability, mobility, or social and cultural diversity; micro-design (retrofit) options for the adaptation of housing and workplaces; future working environments, such as hospitals of the future; smart housing, smart appliances, smart meters, and smart home operating systems.

Future urban infrastructure, services and delivery systems

To focus on creating new infrastructure, services and delivery systems for buildings, network infrastructures and materials, and new distributed technologies for energy, water, waste and transport, we’ll draw on our expertise in: building and precinct information modelling; modular assembly of buildings; precinct-scale design and retrofitting; distributed energy and storage; planning and management of hybrid energy systems; rapid prototyping; new governance and engagement models for institutional and community stakeholders; and design for deconstruction and reuse/recycling.


The expected partnering opportunities of the Smart Cities Research Institute are substantial across government, business, community and not-for-profit sectors.

Meet the Institute Director

Professor Mark Burry is the Foundation Director of the Smart Cities Institute. Mark joins Swinburne from the Melbourne School of Design at University of Melbourne where he was Professor of Urban Futures. He has been the Executive Architect and lead researcher at the Sagrada Família Basilica in Barcelona, Spain and was awarded Australian Federation Fellow. He is recognised internationally as a thought leader and researcher in the domain of future cities. 

Mark was recognised in the 2018 Australia Day Honours list for his achievements and distinguished service in the field of architecture. He is a Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.


Professor Mark Burry, Foundation Director of the Smart Cities Institute