Research, Impact, and Solve China's Urban Challenges

The MIT China Future City Lab is a research and education program

that focuses on the challenges of urban development in China. 

The China Future City Lab addresses challenges and issues related to urbanization in China; we

mobilize the vision, research expertise, experience, talent, creativity, and other resources of MIT

to identify innovative concepts and develop novel tools, technologies, and solutions that are

applicable to the obstacles and opportunities in China’s growing cities. The China Future City

Lab is hosted at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.



China’s extraordinary economic boom has gone hand-in-hand with fast urbanization. In the past 30 years, China has urbanized 350 million people, and will continue to urbanize another 300 million in the next 30 years. This rapid pace of urbanization requires technological, policy, as well as social innovations to ensure long-term sustainability.


In November 2017, MIT launched a unique new urban research and innovation program: China Future City Lab (CFC Lab). CFC Lab looks to advance city life in China through an ambitious range of research and entrepreneurship education projects. CFC Lab is housed in the Department of Urban Studies of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, and is affiliated with the Department’s Center for Real Estate. It has also established strong collaborations with the Media Lab, Senseable City Lab, and Sloan School of Management at MIT. The China Future City Lab consists of three foundational pillars. First, the Lab supports a wide range of basic research projects, investigating aspects of urban and environmental economics and policy, with a special focus on China and also international comparative studies. Second, the Lab houses a program known as the MIT-Tsinghua Future City Innovation Connector (FCIC), which supports startup teams applying ideas to China’s urban challenges. The FCIC also aims to identify innovative concepts and technologies that could be implemented in China. As a third element of its activities, the China Future City Lab is engaging with Chinese cities that will serve as “living labs” or testing sites where MIT researchers will have a unique opportunity to test and deploy their urban-focused innovations.


We believe complex and multi-disciplinary research and innovation require long-term commitment. CFC Lab initiated a Consortium membership to enable closer knowledge exchange and cooperation between the academia and practitioners. CFC Lab is also establishing long term collaboration with leading Chinese research institutions like Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Science, to advance new knowledge of Chinese wisdom on sustainable urban development. It will have a far-reaching effect on global urbanization.


The CFC Lab has three core research themes:

1. New city development: mechanisms, efficiency, and sustainability

2. Urban networks: vibrancy and innovation

3. Green cities: urban growth and the environment


The core research advances new knowledge of Chinese urbanization and identifies the demand for innovation. It explores how rapid and profound changes are driven by technological advancements such as pervasive sensing, the growth and availability of continuous data streams, advanced analytics, social networks, and distributed intelligence. The Future City Innovation Connector (FCIC), jointly launched by CFC Lab and Tsinghua University, embraces these exciting new opportunities. FCIC supports innovative projects addressing the rapid growth of Chinese cities. It draws upon the work of MIT researchers and labs to identify innovative concepts and technologies. FCIC is the first program of its kind that explicitly aims to apply the newest developments in urban research and technology to the immense urbanization occurring in China, which should be powered by technological innovation and new business ventures. 


In 2019, the Lab will continue to enrich its research program and develop deeper engagement with Consortium members to build FCIC's ecosystem of city innovation work. The Lab will also establish partnerships with Chinese municipal governments to implement city living lab projects. 


We truly appreciate our partners, advisory board members, and especially the Consortium members for their support and engagement. CFC Lab’s leadership strongly believes its work will promote an innovative and energetic vision for the research and practice of sustainable urban development, which will greatly influence the urbanization in China for years to come.

Oct 20, 2018

Cambridge, MIT

 Siqi Zheng, Faculty Director

Zhengzhen Tan, Executive Director



Siqi Zheng

Faculty Director and PI

Zhengzhen Tan

Executive Director

Jianghao Wang

Research Scientist

Juan Palacios

Post-doctoral Researcher

Yichun Fan

Graduate Researcher

Adriano Borges Costa

Post-doctoral Researcher

Binzhe Wang

Graduate Researcher

Colleen Qiu

Graduate Researcher

Tabea Sonneschein

Visiting Scholar

Dongxiao Niu

Visiting Student

Weizeng Sun

Research Fellow and Affliate

Guochen Zhai

Innovation Fellow

Andrew Ortendahl

Administrative Staff


Lei Dong; Zhaoyingzi Dong;  Rui Du; Angie Jo; Yingcheng Li; Haijing Liu; Shaojian Wang; Jingjing Yao; Xin Zhang; Ruiqi Zhang, Jame Shen

Strategic Partners



Yasheng Huang

MIT-Tsinghua FCIC Co-Chair

Associated Provost MIT

MIT-Tsinghua FCIC Co-Chair

Provost and Vice President, Tsinghua University

MIT-Tsinghua FCIC Vice Chair China CEO of HongKong Land

Epoch Foundation Professor of International Management, MIT Sloan School of Business

Vice President of Tusincere Holdings

Director of the MIT Center for Real Estate

President of Tianyi Group

Professor of Architecture and Planning, Dean of MIT School Architecture and Planning

Dongshu (Jaff), Shen

Chairman of Esquel Group

CEO, Leping Foundation

Chief Executive of China Property, Nan Fung International Holdings Ltd.

Vice Chairman, JiaMing Investment Co. Ltd.

Consortium Members


Our 2018 Annual Report is now available!



  • Research Assistant ( for MIT students)

Contact Us:

105 Massachusetts Ave.  9-334

Cambridge, MA 02139

+1 (617) 715-2352

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