Smart Cities and the future of urban design

Antonio Aguilar and Chanipa Prommuangdee, from our Bangkok studio, have written an Insight paper in which they discuss the crucial elements of a successful smart city design and lessons learned from Chapman Taylor’s work on smart cities in several locations across Asia.

The benefits of smart cities

Smart city projects range widely in scale, from a building complex or a residential street to a mixed-use urban district or an entire town or city, as long as the development in question is using data and technology to continually monitor and adjust its own functioning in response to requirements. Within a matter of years, it will be the norm for buildings and districts to be ‘smart’, using technology and very detailed planning to create built environments which are self-monitoring, self-configuring, self-diagnosing and self-correcting. Smart systems allow us to predict future needs, save energy, anticipate, identify and prevent problems, improve operational efficiency, create new means of interaction between the built environment and its users and optimise how users experience that environment.

Smart technology has also proved to be of crucial help in the COVID-19 epidemic, with mobile devices enabling swift movement tracking following someone’s diagnosis; other people can then be traced and tested if they came into contact with the person in question, potentially inhibiting opportunities for further transmission of the virus.

Our expertise

As well as masterplanning smart city developments of widely varying types, Chapman Taylor, in collaboration with other consultants, has been advising clients about what technology is appropriate for their specific circumstances, using our experience and knowledge of the market to guide clients through what can seem like a labyrinth of options.

We never approach any project with preconceptions or ready-made solutions, and that applies to smart cities too. We always ask ourselves what the problems need to be solved in that particular place and what we want to achieve there. Throwing a lot of technology at a project just because it worked elsewhere is no use if it is not serving the fundamental needs of that place and its people.

We have adopted this crucial approach on our current design for a 500,000m2 GFA mixed-use smart city district in a Vietnamese city, where our starting point was to examine what problems were being faced by people in the area on a daily basis and to figure out how we could help.

We followed the same process with a 1,800,000m2 GFA mixed-use smart city design we are creating for Thailand, and are currently doing so on another smart city development in the same city for which we are now in the research stages – a 2,000,000m2 GFA mixed-use urban district with major civic and cultural components.

We are also working on an important transport-orientated smart city development in another Thai city, which will begin construction next year, and two more smart city designs are currently in progress for India.

In South East Asia, there is now a strong push by governments to develop smart cities, with the use of tax incentives and other measures to encourage the creation of many new smart districts in the coming decade. Chapman Taylor is already at the forefront of this expansion and will continue to promote the benefits of smart city design, both in South East Asia and throughout the rest of the world.

To read more from Chanipa and Antonio about smart city design and the future direction of the sector, you can find their Insight paper here.


Senior Architect

Antonio has more than 13 years of professional experience working internationally in the United States, China, the Middle East and Europe. He is driven by a passion for design, technology and the delivery of large and complex projects.

His work across continents has allowed him to experience different approaches to project delivery according to the varying key factors and challenges in each location. He knows how to navigate the correct processes and understands the planning and organisation required for different project typologies and stages of work.

Antonio has led and developed major projects, both in management and designer roles, across a broad range of sectors – these include hospitality, commercial, residential, and mixed-use, from conceptual design to construction. He also specialises in the development of Smart City frameworks, masterplan feasibility processes and design optimisation.

Areas of expertise:

Smart Cities / Masterplanning / Hospitality / Resorts / Transportation / Commercial / Residential / Mixed-Use


Urban Planner

Chanipa Prommuangdee graduated from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Faculty of Architecture, Chulalongkorn University. With years of experience experience across South East Assia, she uses thorough research and analysis to develop well planned strategic visions for projects.

Areas of expertise:

Masterplanning, Mixed-Use, Office, Commercial, Hospitality, Residential, Leisure, Retail, Transportation, Houses

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