Blue City – Integrated Urban Solutions

Economy, ecology and technology with an excellent quality of life and environment

Our lives have changed radically in recent decades: We have become more mobile and the work environment is undergoing profound change. At the same time, demographic shifts and migration pose major challenges for cities and local authorities. Worldwide, ever more people live in cities, where the effects of climate change, such as global heating, are more pronounced than in rural areas.

We therefore need new, interdisciplinary approaches to urban development to master the challenges that lie ahead. With the ‘Blue City – Integrated Urban Solutions’ suite of services, Drees & Sommer bundles its comprehensive urban development expertise for the development of specific solutions for the future.

To be future-proof, these solutions have to include holistic concepts to deal with a wide range of stress factors. This includes taking the economic, ecological, functional, social and esthetic aspects of urban spaces into account:


Numerous stressors impact our cities:


How do we generate, transport and store energy? How can we use efficient technologies to save energy? How can we improve cost-efficiency and safety? Which sites should we use for energy generation? 


How do we make global warming manageable? How will future-proof buildings with a minimized carbon footprint – and with a beneficial footprint in the medium and long term – contribute to the solution? How do we implement climate-adapted construction?


How do we ensure a responsible approach to resources – for example, in terms of land use and the use of ecological materials for fitout? How do we organize material recycling, as with the Cradle to Cradle® approach? 


Mobility is becoming increasingly important: How do we link various means of transport to form practical mobility networks? How do we establish the necessary infrastructure for electromobility?


How do we ensure functioning traffic and transport routes, including bikeways? What measures are needed with regard to the design of roads and parking? What contribution can urban gardening make to local food supply?


How do we address issues relating to data connections and the networking of wide-area infrastructure and everyday devices? Entire districts and buildings, parts of buildings, individual rooms and devices are becoming part of the Internet of Things, resulting in a wide range of new business models.


When it comes to urban development projects, it is crucial to clarify economic viability and feasibility as early and reliably as possible, and to obtain timely information on potential subsidies.


Numerous trends impact life in the urban environment. Will we continue to visit shopping malls in the future, or will we have goods delivered by drones? Will we still work in office buildings, or only from home offices?

Challenge for modern urban development

Urban districts play a key role in the transformation of society as it moves towards greater sustainability. They form the space in which people live and work. This is where social networks are created, urban infrastructures operate, and urban development and architectural visions are developed.

So the ultimate goal must be to achieve effects and synergies that promote sustainability in urban development. Solutions are required that combine economy, ecology and technology, and that meet the requirements for an excellent quality of life and environment.

How can this be achieved? Urban districts can be restructured and optimized through innovative approaches. New projects involving densification or the development of disused sites offer an opportunity to implement pioneering solutions. Equally, established neighborhoods must be upgraded, for example by improving the energy efficiency of buildings.


Groundwork and analysis
  • Discuss relevant legislation and standards
  • Consolidate in fact sheet
  • Include all project-relevant basics
  • Evaluate associated factors
  • Outcome: Thorough assessment of current situation
Goals and strategy
  • Develop guidelines and define goals and added value for the project
  • Joint workshop with the principal
  • Outcome: Clear objectives, criteria and indicators, as well as a process to track project objectives
Scale and solution level
  • Examine goals based on the solution approach
  • Develop and calculate various technical development scenarios
  • Adopt a broad area of investigation for each goal
  • Outcome: Overview of the investigated area for each goal and/or medium as specification for the downstream process
Urban development
  • Review urban development for optimal orientation, building types, urban structure and building heights
  • Outcome: Urban master plan optimized to align with the project goals
  • Calculate or simulate variants to set standards for individual uses and types of building, street, or open space
  • Develop differentiated standards – for example, for the degree of soil sealing, facade structure, and insulation requirement – that contribute to the most cost-efficient achievement of the goal.
  • Outcome: Specification  
Technical details
  • Examine specific approaches to achieving more reliable study findings and reducing planning inaccuracy to the greatest possible extent
  • Develop and coordinate specific technical solutions
  • Verify findings in an overall profitability analysis
  • Analyze possible synergy effects and interactions between parallel processes for different media and goal criteria
  • Outcome: Recommendation in the form of a technical master plan with a roadmap for its implementation

Achieving sustainable development with integrated strategies

Drees & Sommer initiates, plans and manages holistic development and renewal processes – in other words processes that take all relevant fields into account. This approach can apply to entire cities or urban districts, or to individual buildings and properties.

Ideally, we get involved before our customers start project development. This enables us to achieve the best possible outcomes for all parties involved.

For decades, Drees & Sommer has been synonymous with development consulting and the successful planning and management of complex real estate and infrastructure management projects. Are you a developer or officer responsible in local government? If so, we would be delighted to support you with our know-how and offer you the following benefits:

  • Specialist consultations (microclimate simulations, space syntax analyses, energy simulations, etc.)
  • Innovative solutions delivered by our network of experts and involvement in research and development projects (Smart City Demonstrator)
  • Sustainability consulting, including district and real estate certification with experienced auditors for all labels (DGNB, LEED, BREEAM, etc.)
  • Analysis of urban development design drafts and projects (requirements specification, design guidelines, potential analyses)
  • Expert advice and planning (technical master plan, energy and climate protection and climate change adaptation concepts, lifecycle assessment, lifecycle costing, simulations, mobility concepts, etc.)

To find out why certification of sustainable urban districts pays off, see the DGNB publication ‘Added value of certified districts’.

Blue City References

SQUARE, Mannheim

The conversion of the former Benjamin Franklin barracks into a sustainable residential and Commercial district marks a step into the future for the city of Mannheim, undertaken in partnership with Drees & Sommer. Building on climate protection goals, the modern pecinct will feature innovations in the areas of energy efficiency, energy generation, smart grids and electromobility.

IFC Moscow

Sberbank is planning to create a new district for 65,000 inhabitants and 70,000 workplaces on a 460-hectare site in the west of the Moscow metropolitan region. Drees & Sommer managed and represented the international planning team, planned the utilities infrastructure, and developed the fi nancial model for the International Financial Center (IFC). Building Information Modeling (BIM) was also used in the process.

Maidar EcoCity+

A new city called Maidar EcoCity+, which will set new ecological standards, is to be built in the middle of the Mongolian steppe. Drees & Sommer development consultants are contributing their management expertise to the project.

Möckernkiez City District, Berlin

A future-oriented city district: around 420 homes as well as 7,000 square metres of commercial land for a hotel, social facilities and care close to where people live were created on a 30,000 square metre site on Yorckstraße and the corner of Möckernstraße. The project is the largest passive house project in the German capital and is characterised by an integrated planning approach that takes both social and ecological aspects into consideration.