Colouring Cities Research Programme

The Colouring Cities Research Programme (CCRP) was set up at the Alan Turing Institute in 2020. Its aim is to facilitate collaboration between academic institutions, interested in reproducing Colouring London's open code, to advance research into sustainable and resilient building stocks, and to support the United Nations' New Urban Agenda.

Our collective aim is to stimulate a rapid increase in the volume, variety, accuracy, precision, and quality of open spatial data available on stocks, at building level. This is necessary to understand stock composition, performance, and dynamic behaviour, to support research and policy making.

The CCRP's aim is to develop an international network of collaboratively maintained Colouring Cities open databases/knowledge exchange platforms providing data and information on national buildings stocks. The programme also offers a friendly, informal, creative, non-competitive, and experimental space for multidisciplinary teams to work together on content and code. The programme currently involves researchers from six countries, bringing together expertise in computer science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, urban science, data science, physics, architectural history, environmental science, material science, conservation and heritage, housing, planning and architecture.

Examples of research questions of particular interest to the group include:

  • What kinds of buildings exist in the city - typology, age, use, size, etc.?
  • How many of each are there and where are they located?
  • How long do different types of building last and why and how can we help buildings adapt in a sustainable and resilient way?
  • How useful can Colouring Cities platforms be in analysing and modelling stocks and/or in tracking performance, reducing energy and waste flows, targeting retrofit, and improving housing quality?
  • How can longitudinal data also be collected and what can this tell us about survival, risk and vulnerability in stocks?
  • Can platforms also double up as disaster management tools and how can we share learning of resilient reconstruction?
  • Can common patterns be found across countries in relation to building form and deprivation, poor health and mortality?
  • How similar or different are stocks across countries?
  • Can generated data, when combined with AI and machine learning approaches, reveal patterns and problems unable to be seen before?
  • Might universal spatiotemporal 'rules' of dynamic behaviour exist for stocks, and if so, could these be used in new types of simulation models, to more accurately forecast change in the longer term?

In early 2020 the University of Bahrain's Urban and Housing Lab began exploratory work on Colouring Bahrain, supported by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities. Our partners in Bahrain and Lebanon are also looking to work collaboratively to support other research institutions in the Middle East wishing to develop Colouring Cities platforms.

In 2020 the Cities Future Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, received funding to develop Colouring Australia platform as part of its research into The Australian Housing Data Analytics Platform. Roll out is currently occurring in major Australian cities.

In 2021 the National Technical University of Athens began work on Colouring Athens with funding support from the Athens Development and Destination Management Agency.

In 2021 King's College London secured internal funding to work with the Institut Teknologi Bandung on Colouring Indonesia. The idea is to also investigate the potential usefulness of the initiative for the Global South, particularly in the context of data capture relating to responding climate change emergencies.

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development (IOER); EMPA, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Material Science and Technology, and The Colour Research Institute, China Academy of Art also contributes to the CCRP.

Colouring Beirut