Research Review: Rethinking Systems

We conduct independent research to test out and experiment with new approaches that respond to issues our clients and communities are facing. 

Covid-19 brought to the fore the importance of systems working together to support more resilient communities. It also showed us just how interconnected nature and the built environment are. It forced a moment of deep consideration of the sustainability of our actions, and our significant impact.

In this issue of Arup’s Research Review “Rethinking Systems” we consider approaches to create better outcomes for people, places and the planet. 

Circular Economy

Consumption and use of natural resources have generally followed a linear approach where materials are sourced, used and finally disposed of as waste. Arup promotes a ‘circular’ approach instead. We examine upcycling materials using additive robotic fabrication, and the potential of using a waste by-product from the sugar industry on roads in Queensland. 

Covid-19 response

After a crisis comes recovery. We’ve all had to rethink, adapt and recover from the pandemic. This is a chance to address longstanding issues, solve new problems and revisit opportunities. We’ve explored new and digital responses particularly looking at experiences of public spaces, ranging from hawkers markets in South East Asia, to urban spaces and sporting venues. 


Today, society’s ability to thrive can be compromised by risks from climate change to infrastructure deficit, from population growth to pandemics. More people than ever depend on businesses and critical infrastructure systems working together. We look at resilience interventions with examples from urban food in Singapore to asset flexibility and mine reuse.

Net Zero

The transition to a zero-carbon economy is accelerating globally. There is growing acceptance of the need to reduce our carbon emissions for our future and to avoid the worst climate impacts. We look at the role of digital tools in the built environment and zero emission buses as approaches to significantly reduce carbon emissions. 

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