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Masterplanning and Urban Design

Planning and designing thriving cities that work for everyone

Planning and designing thriving cities that work for everyone

Designing cities is an increasingly complex task. It requires innovative and integrated solutions, which consider everything from demographic changes and equity to land scarcity, energy and water resilience, climate mitigation, supporting infrastructure and minimising the impact on our natural systems.

We help governments, authorities, and developers to deliver remarkable buildings and neighbourhoods, enhancing a town or city’s sustainability and appeal. Every project is a creative collaboration aimed at producing solutions of enduring value. ”

Arup develops masterplans that can beneficially shape the long-term development of our towns and cities. We think beyond just buildings, to encompass the wider and more enduring socio-economic benefits for communities. Our goal is to help clients produce inclusive communities, ones that promote wellbeing, enhance productivity, and are an enjoyable place to live and work. Our masterplanning expertise is underpinned by deep technical knowledge of interrelated infrastructure systems, from water and energy to transport and data.

The process of masterplanning and urban design enables us to weave these layers together to create an integrated urban experience. We combine creativity, innovation, and realism, ensuring that resulting plans capture the full value of the opportunity and facilitate cost-effective implementation.

How we help you

We work closely with authorities and communities, to engage and co-create, design and deliver their shared ambitions. Our approach balances constraints and opportunities, from site conditions, social and economic factors and environmental issues, to market demands, regulatory and community issues. We always ensure new development harmonises with the existing urban fabric.

Urban transport infrastructure

We develop masterplans for the built and natural environments that exist around rail stations, metros, airports, energy centres and maritime ports. This ensures that town and city transport systems provide seamless connections to other vital services, leisure, retail and residential areas.

Learn more about our masterplan for the area around Barcelona El Prat Airport

Improving cities sustainability

Every city needs to become more sustainable and we deliver robust frameworks for development that promote decarbonisation, protect and enhance natural systems and encourage active travel and public transport. By designing with the UN Sustainable Development Goals framework, we create resilient strategies that can develop over time.

Read how we create a new frontier at the New Territories North in Hong Kong based on Smart-Green-Resilient principles

Regeneration and adaptation

Urban regeneration can provide new employment and housing, improving the lived experience for many city dwellers. We work closely with local leaders and communities to develop deliverable regeneration strategies, building upon existing assets and redefining key principles to create a cohesive vision for the future.

Read how we designed the Perry Barr masterplan in partnership with the community in Birmingham

Universities and innovation districts

Education and research facilities are a major driver of town and city growth, becoming a magnet for students, innovative start-ups and employment opportunities. We help clients to develop masterplans for academic districts that will appeal to the next generation of researchers, students, and dovetail into the wider region’s economy and existing infrastructure and transport networks.

Read about our ‘total design’ approach to renewing the campus experience at Australian National University


We develop waterfront masterplans that provide a blueprint for urban renewal along rivers, harbours or coastlines, protecting communities and prioritising natural solutions over hard engineering to create long term resilience. Our solutions respond to growing climate threats and rising sea levels.

Read how we’re revitalising one of Bangalore’s largest lakes

Repurposing legacy infrastructure

Major opportunities exist in the repurposing of energy infrastructure as we transition to renewable energy systems. We are working on giving new life to decommissioned power plants, both within brownfield urban districts, as well as on the fringes of major conurbations. Our goal is transform sites, guiding clients through the relevant planning processes, to identity future potential for energy facilities and estates that are nearing their end of life.

Read how we’re reimagining power stations to create a shared vision for productivity in a net zero world

Inclusive places and social value

When cities become siloed communities, social cohesion suffers. Inclusive cities, where there’s a real shared stake in what makes a place great to live and work in, take time and effort to develop. Our approach is about listening to real people, understanding a city’s past and present, before imagining its future.

Find out more about how we design inclusive cities

Partnerships and new thinking

Whatever project we’re contributing to, success is often shaped by collaboration with our network of experts, partners, stakeholders and funding bodies. These partnerships ensure clients benefit from the latest insights into urban development, and include C40 Cities, the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, the Real Play Coalition and the World Bank among many others.

Learn more about our partnerships


Meet our people