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 save energy using more efficient technology? How do we ensure efficiency and safety? Which sites do we use to generate energy?  


Heavy rainfalls and dry spells present us with new challenges. How do we incorporate sustainable infrastructure and sponge city principles into our cities? How do we reduce drinking water consumption, use rainwater, and protect ourselves from extreme weather?


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

Waste and resources

How do we handle raw materials properly? How do we reduce land consumption? How do we increase the use of ecological materials in interior design? How do we organize material flows in cycles – such as with Cradle to Cradle®?


How can different modes of transport be meaningfully linked to form mobility networks? How do we manage to build up the necessary structural infrastructure for new drives, such as e-mobility or hydrogen?

City structure and real estate

What sustainability criteria do we use to plan our cities and buildings? How do we succeed in transforming the portfolio? Will our facades all be green in the future and all our roofs energy producers? Will we all live in high-rise buildings in the future?


How do we combine humans and nature and incorporate biodiversity into buildings and cities?  Do we need the edible city? What does bees’ dying off mean for us? Does the word “urban jungle” take on a new meaning?


Entire neighborhoods and buildings, individual rooms, components or objects are migrating into the “Internet of Things. ” Many new business models are emerging. How do we network large-scale structures and everyday objects?


Which subsidies are eligible, and what are the requirements for green bonds? How do we use this information to make urban development cost-effective and feasible?


Numerous trends have an effect on life in urban areas. Will we visit shopping malls in the future, or will we let drones deliver to us? Will we still work in offices tomorrow or only from home?

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.


Technical master planning

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.