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New NRF Fellow Asst Prof Perrine Hamel uses nature to design sustainable cities
As a densely populated city on a small island, Singapore is no stranger to urban planning; on the contrary, it has been a key part of the growth of Singapore, enabling housing of an increasing population and growing industry while still preserving sizeable green areas. But like many other major cities around the world, Singapore is now faced with new urban planning challenges in the face of climate and environmental changes. How can Singapore plan for a future city that is resilient to sea level rise and disease outbreaks, and at the same time promotes liveability and Kampung spirit?
Asst Prof and NRF Fellow Perrine Hamel joined ASE earlier this year from Stanford University, where she worked with the Natural Capital Project, on how incorporating nature into urban environments can improve both resilience and liveability. Now she brings her expertise to Singapore and sets out to do action-oriented research that directly contributes to building more sustainable cities in Asia. With extensive experience in urban water management and ecosystem services science, Asst Prof Hamel is interested in the potential of natural infrastructure to improve urban water management (e.g. water treatment, flood mitigation), and provide other important benefits. For example, small parks can help mitigate floods, while plants on buildings store carbon and improve air quality. Ongoing projects in the region include natural infrastructure studies in Kuala Lumpur and in Shenzhen, and Asst Prof Hamel hopes to extend collaborations with other researchers and practitioners in the region. Through these projects, she will also examine how natural infrastructure can improve social justice and human well-being, particularly in informal settlements and for vulnerable groups. Last but not least, her research will look into how to best distill and share the knowledge with urban planners and leaders for the benefit of sustainable, liveable and resilient future urban environments throughout Southeast Asia.