Infrastructure Materials

Our researchers can access large-scale environmental chambers, high-powered electron microscopes and x-ray microtomography equipment

Tall buildings in London skyline

Cities and Infrastructure

Cities and Infrastructure

Modern cities around the world rely on good urban infrastructure. As environmental and human pressure on urban spaces increases, we will increasingly need urban infrastructure that is creative, sustainable and resilient. This is the focus of research within the Cities and Infrastructure group. 

Our research group is home for world-leading interdisciplinary research in infrastructure materials, high-speed rail and robotics. This research addresses key issues such as new business models for infrastructure, the role of robots and autonomous systems for maintenance in the infrastructure of the future, and urbanism and heritage protection in the global south. 

Our research

We seek to understand the influence and value of infrastructure to global economies, societies and the environment. We have an active interdisciplinary research portfolio in collaboration with national and international partners. The nature of our research leads to close collaborations with industry partners, research institutions academics from other areas of expertise.

  • Sustainable and resilient infrastructure: Our interdisciplinary research explores the links between infrastructure, resilience and sustainable energy and resource use.
  • Infrastructure robotics: We are creating self-repairing cities for the future by developing small robots to mend pipes, street lights and roads with minimal environmental impact and disruption to the public.
  • Project management: Or research focuses on the effective design and delivery of infrastructure projects through working with industry professionals and policy makers.
  • Architecture and urbanism: We research interdisciplinary and multi-faceted approaches to the built environment, to create knowledge on cities, landscapes and communities in the global south and post conflict cities.


Collaborations and impact

We have collaborations with a wide range of disciplines and currently have over £10m of RCUK, EU and industrial funding for projects in this area. Our research has impact on a national and international scale through collaborations with numerous partners in academia, industry, government, professional bodies and NGOs in the UK, Europe, and the Global South.

We have a strong systems-led interdisciplinary funding portfolio from a wide range of research councils.  Our group are core members in the Centre for Infrastructure Materials (CIM); Robotics at Leeds; The Institute for High Speed Rail and System Integration. We also have leadership roles in two major cross-faculty research themes: Cities, a University-wide research theme and water@leeds, one of the biggest interdisciplinary water research initiatives in the world. The group is also expanding its partnerships and collaborations with the Culture theme and Leeds Social Science Institute (LSSI).

Further information

View all members of our research group, our recent projects and publications.

PhD projects

We have opportunities for prospective postgraduate researchers. Find out more.

Informal enquiries can be made to the group leader or deputies.

Contact us

If you would like to discuss an area of research in more detail, contact the Group Leader Professor Phil Purnell, or either of the Deputy Group Leaders Dr Gehan Selim and Dr David Dawson.