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HSS - Cours - HSS521 : Urbanism and Sustainability

Domaine > Humanités et sciences sociales.


HSS 521 : Urbanism and Sustainability:

Exploring the cities’ metamorphosis in the XXIst century

Ecole Polytechnique : Département HSS, 2016-2017

Xavier Bonnaud, Professor




For more than 5 000 years, related to values, technical standards, social and political organizations as well as cultural specificities, cities have constantly remodeled themselves.

From a great diversity of shapes and sizes, they built answers, today as yesterday, following the aspirations and needs of both men and societies.

Since the XIX century, urbanism has structured itself as a new field of knowledge, both theoretical and practical, in order to challenge the urban explosion of the first industrial revolution. 

Today, as XXI century is engaged, cities, bigger than ever in number and size welcome already more than half of the 7 billions world population. Furthermore, during the last 30 years, new social issues (due to the rise of economic disparities among societies) and also the new issues of global environmental disturbances must be added to the challenges of the increase of urban migrations and to the overexpansion of megalopolis.

The 6 conferences of this program will present how, from this tricky situation, original city planning opportunities arise.

Imaginative developments in mobility, inventive connections with nature, innovative ways of producing, distributing, saving and sharing materials, goods and energy, new sense of commons, new ways of life and esthetics engage cities in deep metamorphosis. In order to face the environmental issues, all these parameters should be activated according to the specificity of every local situation, in order to remodel cities as optimum metabolisms, intertwining territorial scale with the personal daily life of billions of urban citizens.


Schedule of the different lectures


Two first two lectures will introduce the reality of the urban world and the environmental issues

  1. Introduction to the city: what do we inherit? Definition of the particularity of the contemporaneous urban world. Introduction to the green city index
  2. Eco-urbanism, and the opportunity of cities to challenge the environmental crisis: the different patterns and narratives of sustainable cities: some specific urbanistic opportunities (in term of density, centrality, social innovation)


The four following lectures will enlarge upon thematic issues cities must grasp.


  1. The increase of mobility and its challenges (walkable cities, towards mixed transportation solutions, slow, active, public, individual
  2. New urban metabolisms. How production, consumption, logistic can be spatially reorganized (reducing waste, loss of energy, developing local opportunities, expanding circular economy, product-service system, etc,…)
  3. Energy as new pattern to design buildings and cities. Examples of reduction of consumption, of the setting of new networks, of the production scattering and the interconnectivity of different grids.
  4. The urbanity and democratic challenges: sense of commons, new relationship with nature symbiotic, biophylic neighborhoods, democratic and affordable cities, empowerment of urban populations.

-       This program is bilingual, (slides and introduction in English),

-       The exam language could be or French or English),

-       A bibliography will be presented at the end of each lecture

-       Lectured notes will be send at the end of the 6 lectures


Modalités d'évaluation : Contrôle écrit


Seules les notes personnelles, manuscrites ou imprimées, sont autorisées ainsi que les dictionnaires de langue en version papier,
à l'exclusion de tous autres documents imprimés ou polycopiés, ainsi que les dictionnaires et traducteurs électroniques. Les tablettes et téléphones portables sont interdits.

Langue du cours : Anglais

Credits ECTS : 2


Format des notes

Numérique sur 20

Littérale/grade réduit

Pour les étudiants du diplôme M1 Advanced materials engineering

Le rattrapage est autorisé (Note de rattrapage conservée)
    L'UE est acquise si note finale transposée >= C
    • Crédits ECTS acquis : 3 ECTS

    Pour les étudiants du diplôme Diplôme d'ingénieur de l'Ecole polytechnique

    Le rattrapage est autorisé (Note de rattrapage conservée)
      L'UE est acquise si note finale transposée >= C
      • Crédits ECTS acquis : 2 ECTS

      La note obtenue rentre dans le calcul de votre GPA.

      Pour les étudiants du diplôme Echanges PEI

      Le rattrapage est autorisé (Note de rattrapage conservée)
        L'UE est acquise si note finale transposée >= C
        • Crédits ECTS acquis : 2 ECTS
        Veuillez patienter