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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. ” Kathryn Firth Global Skills Leader, Masterplanning & Urban Design, Arup

Arup develops masterplanning and urban design solutions 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. We help clients produce inclusive and enjoyable places to live and work, that promote decarbonisation, protect and enhance ecology, and encourage active travel and public transport. Our expertise is underpinned by deep technical knowledge of interrelated infrastructure systems, from water and energy to transport and data.

Through our integrated approach, we combine creativity, innovation, and realism, ensuring that resulting plans capture the full value of the opportunity, facilitate cost-effective implementation, and advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals framework through design.

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.

Strategic masterplanning

Our work spans diverse scales from neighbourhood to city and region.  We work with clients and stakeholders to identify the key drivers that will catalyse positive urban growth, building on our deep understanding of the relationships between people and the built environment.  We recognise the importance of nature in the context of development, creating strategies that are not only environmentally-led, but also aim to restore and enhance natural ecosystems.

Learn more about our climate responsive masterplan for Mahindra World City Jaipur 

Urban regeneration and adaptation

We work closely with public and private sector clients, municipal leaders and communities to develop exemplar regeneration strategies. Our approach builds upon existing physical, commercial and social assets of a place to define a cohesive vision for the future. We provide flexible frameworks that consider economic and behavioural factors such as the role of high streets, workspace demand and access community services and open space.

Read how we developed a vibrant, mixed-use neighbourhood for Broadgate in London 

Knowledge and innovation environments

Universities and innovation clusters are reshaping areas of major cities, creating and attracting new talent in accessible locations. In today's economy, the cities that will be successful are those that can harness and capitalise on advanced knowledge, creativity and ideas from their most innovative and diverse people and institutions.  We help clients develop masterplans for academic districts that will appeal to the next generation researchers and students, and dovetail into the wider region’s economy and existing infrastructure.

Learn more about our vision for the Wellcome Genome Campus Expansion Masterplan 

Integrating transport infrastructure

We work closely with clients, transport planners and engineers to ensure that rail stations, metros, airports, maritime ports are integrated with their built and natural environments. Our masterplans promote last-mile active travel as an opportunity to intensify development responsively around transport infrastructure to ensure seamless connections to mixed-use development, vital services, leisure, retail and residential neighbourhoods.

Learn more about the Barcelona-El Prat Airport Real Estate Masterplan 

Waterfronts and ports

We develop waterfront masterplans that provide a foundation for urban renewal along rivers, harbours or coastlines, protecting communities and prioritising natural solutions over hard engineering to create long term resilience. We consider the varied role of waterfronts from a visitor destination to a working port, with all the variants in-between. Our solutions consistently respond to growing climate threats and rising sea levels.

Read more about our masterplan for the urban integration of Santander Waterfront 

Inclusive places

It is paramount that cities and neighbourhoods serve their citizens.  We work with our clients to identify and connect stakeholders, integrating diverse viewpoints to create thoughtful and bespoke solutions. Our approach is to listen to people to comprehend their needs and aspirations, understand a city’s past and present, its social and spatial history, before imagining its future.

Learn more about our design strategy for a more healthy, inclusive and child-friendly city centre in Belfast 

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. We help clients transform sites, guiding them 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 

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


Talk to our people