About Us

Social Urban Research Groupe (SURGe) is a research group based in Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), focusing on social architecture and urban design, by investigating the relationships between people and the built environment. Our research interests include ageing demographics, liveable public places, data-driven collaborative design, and other emerging urban issues particularly in the Asian context. Through extensive fieldworks, local histories, action-based research and various digital platforms, we aim to uncover the on-going environmental behaviors and social movements, in order to develop an adaptive urban design framework towards the vision of social and cultural sustainability.



New Urban Kampung Research Project
Creative Aging City
Living in an Aging World
Liveable Places: A Building Environment Modelling Approach for Dynamic Place Making
Sustainable Child-friendly Environmental Design, Hanoi (UROP*)
Redhill: Multidimensional Narratives (UROP*)
Spirit of Phu Xuan, Ho Chi Minh City (UROP*)
Marsiling Sunlove Senior Activity Center (UROP*)
Park(ing) Day @ MacPherson – Our City! (UROP*)

*UROP – Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program



Opportunity Studio (ASD Sustainable Design Option Studio)

Applied social architectural theories into urban design, offering the students the unique opportunity to engage users and to produce 1:1 urban furniture prototypes.

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Social Architecture: Theory & Practice (Elective)

Through case studies, fieldworks and hands-on workshops, this course aims to equip the students with theoretical and historical knowledge of ‘Social Architecture’ as well as methods and skills for practicing it.

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Capstone Projects

Capstone is a signature program of SUTD for all final year students from across all four pillars. Spanning across 2 terms, students would design and construct models or prototypes in response to project briefs given by collaborating companies or agencies.

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Master of Architecture Thesis

Supervised thesis students working on social urban issues, through a systematic guidance from ethnographic studies, formulating of urban issues and architectural strategies, to representation and presentation.



Our Team

Dr. CHONG Keng Hua
Assistant Professor
Architecture and Sustainable Design

Dr. CHONG Keng Hua is an Assistant Professor of Architecture and Sustainable Design. He is the Principal Investigator of Social Urban Research Groupe (SURGE) and the partner of COLOURS: Collectively Ours LLP, a design consultancy specializing in collaborative public space design. Currently, he is also the President of Really Architecture (re:ACT), an NGO based in Singapore.


Dr. Mihye CHO
Assistant Professor
Humanities Arts & Social Sciences


HA Tshui Mum (Summer) (M.S.Arch)
Research Associate
Architecture and Sustainable Design

Summer is an Architectural Researcher with interior design trained background. She marries her love for architectural theory & history with social architecture as a theoretical study tool to evaluate and rethink the relationship between human beings and built environment in return for creating liveable public spaces, where place meaning and identity can be fortified. Summer’s other research interests include semiotics of architecture, humanitarian architecture, community resilience, and memory & identity of built environment.


Aerilynn TAN Tze Cheng (M.Arch)
Research Assistant
Architecture and Sustainable Design

Graduated with Bachelor of Science (Major in Architecture & Sustainable Design) and Master of Architecture from the Singapore University of Technology and Design, Aerilynn is interested in investigating the relationship between people and spaces. An avid reader and writer, she enjoys academic research and is also passionate about the social aspect of architecture, which encompasses collaborative design, people-centric public spaces, and lively streets.


Natasha YEO Min (B.Sc – Architecture)
Research Officer
Architecture and Sustainable Design

A graduate of Singapore University of Technology and Design, Natasha is a passionate budding designer exploring how design can change lives. Her primary interest is in Architecture stems from exploring how spatial design can influence human experiences but also pursues graphic design  and visual communication as a hobby.


Tongchaoran GAO (Chloe) 
Ph.D Student
Architecture and Sustainable Design

Tongchaoran Gao is a PhD student studying the relationship between spatial design and social interaction through space syntax. She achieved a Master’s degree in architecture design in Columbia university in the city of New York. She is currently pursuing her PhD degree in ASD pillar of SUTD, mentored by Prof. Chong Keng Hua and Prof. Ate Poorthuis.


Yohei Kato
Ph.D Student
Architecture and Sustainable Design


Yohei Kato is a community designer, trained in the field of community development, design research, and information design. He is particularly interested in a dynamic process and methods of engaging with community —in designing public places, making a village development plan, and conducting participatory evaluation.




ZJU iProject
Zou Min (Kate)
Li Ouwen
Ying Zhihan
Chen Jiangnan
Chong Zhuo Wen Alexandria
Yeo Song Pei
Quak Chun Ming
Goh Yi Qian
HCMC Community Design
Sharlene Wong
Ng Zi Kai
Janice TanYen Ping
Desmond Lee Wei ji
Jezamine Chua Zi Hui
Tan Yen Lin
Nguyen Minh Chau
Vo Le Hoang Long
Shanelle Chan Jun Hui
Tay Kang Sheng
Lin Xuehen
Ng Jia Wen
Tan Wei Lin
Samantha Chan Wei Ting

Sunlove SAC
Jezamine Chua Zi Hui
Tan Yen Lin
Zhang Ke Er
Nur Faizah Binti Abdul Ja’affar
Joel Yap Kar Jing
Our City!
Clover Chen Yutong
Amanda Yeo
Leon Jared Cher
Lau Jie Hao
Teri Lim Yi Lian
Lina Foong Mingli
Geraldine Quek Cai Ting
Kabin Parthiban
Ong Liyen
Edible Community Garden
Tan Jun Qi
Porndee Chua
Lim Wan Rong
Tan Wei Lin
Chantelle Goh
Joel Yap Kar Jing
Ong Jia Ying
Kendrick Tay
Homelessness in Singapore
Aurelia Chan Hui-En
Tan Chu Er Joey
Melissa Mak Li Ping
Yeow Zhi Wen Michael
Singapore Community Design
Roxanne Then Min Hui
Pek Yun Ning
Abhipsa Pal
Sofia Foo Xin Di
Cheong Chi Yan
Chiu Po Heng
Zhang Zhexian


Past Researchers

Dr. TO Kien, Senior Research Scientist
Dr. Hae Young YUN
, SUTD-MIT Postdoctoral Fellow
Denise TAN, 
Architectural Designer, Researcher
Dr. Ji-Youn KIM
, Sociologist, Post-doctoral Researcher
Zheng JIA (Judy), Urban Planner, Researcher
Dr. Sunghee SHIN, Geographer, Post-doctoral Researcher
Debbie LOO, Architect, Researcher
Hai-Yin KONG, Urban Designer, Researcher
OOI Yu-Lin, Design Ethnographer


Dr. Bige TUNCER, Associate Professor, Architecture and Sustainable Design, SUTD
Dr. YOW Wei Quin, Associate Professor, Humanities Arts & Social Sciences, SUTD
Dr. YUEN Chau, Associate Professor, Engineering Product Development, SUTD
Dr. Ate Poorthuis, Assistant Professor, Humanities Arts & Social Sciences, SUTD
Dr. Roland Bouffanais, Associate Professor, Engineering Product Development, SUTD
Prof. Michael Fischer, Professor of Anthropology, MIT
Prof. Christoper Zegras, Associate Professor of Planning & Transportation, MIT
Prof. Wu Jing, Associate Professor of Architecture, ZJU
Prof. Gong Min, Associate Professor of Architecture, ZJU

Prof. Dong YAO, Associate Professor of Architecture, Assistant Head, Architecture Department, Tongji University
Prof. Min Jay KANG, Associate Professor, Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University
Prof. Michael SIU, Chair Professor of Public Design, Public Design Lab, School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
Prof. OTSUKI Toshio, Professor of Architecture, School of Engineering, Management Committee Member of Institute of Gerontology, University of Tokyo
Dr. Sai-Kit YEUNG, Assistant Professor, Information System Technology & Design, SUTD
Dr. Yee Wei LIM, Associate Professor, Head (Health Education & Promotion Domain), Saw Swee Hock School of Public Heath, NUS
Dr. Joo Hwa (Philip) Bay, Faculty, School of Built Environment, Architecture and Interior, Curtin University
Dr. WONG Sweet Fun, Chief Transformation Officer, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
Ms. Polly CHEUNG, Chief, Hospital Campus Planning, Woodlands Health Campus
Mr. Maxime Cassat, Director, EDF Lab Singapore
Ms. Adrienne MENDENHALL, Country Manager, ACCESS Health International Singapore


Collaborating Organisations




Selected publications

Keng Hua Chong, Zheng Jia, Debbie Loo, Mihye Cho (2015), “Successful Aging in High-density City State: A Review of Singapore’s Aging Policies and Urban Initiatives”, in Caro, Francis G., Kelly Fitzgerald, eds., International Perspectives on Age-Friendly Cities, Routledge.

Keng Hua Chong, Wei Quin Yow, Debbie Loo, Ferninda Patrycia (2015), “Psychosocial Wellbeing of Elderly And Their Perception of Matured Estate in Singapore”, Journal of Housing for Elderly, 29:3, 259-297.

Kien To, Keng Hua Chong, Mihye Cho, Bige Tuncer (2016), “Exploring Neighborhood Liveability Based on Subjective Perceptions of Different User Groups”, 12th International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability: Urban Sustainability – Inspiration and Solution, Portland.

Chong Keng Hua (2015), “Reflecting on SPUR: Thoughts on Civil Society”, Cubes, no.77 (December issue)

Keng Hua Chong, Denise Tan (2015), “Designing Communities: Evolution of Precinct Public Space Design in Singapore Public Housing Estates”, International Conference on East Asian Architectural Culture: Practical History, Gwangju.

Keng Hua Chong, Kien To, Zheng Jia (2015), “Perception and Participation: Comparing Community Design Process between Matured Neighborhoods in Developed and Developing Countries”, Environmental Design Research Association 46th Conference – Brainstorm: Dynamic Interactions of Environment-Behavior and Neuroscience, Los Angeles.

Keng Hua Chong, Sunghee Shin, Debbie Loo, Mihye Cho (2015), “Creative Ageing City: Place-making in Old Neighbourhoods by Elderly Communities in Asia”, 11th International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Keng Hua Chong & Mihye Cho (2014), “Appropriating Traditions in Contested Space: Creative Place Making by Elderly”, Traditional Dwelling and Settlements – Working Paper Series, vol. 261, 40-63.

Kien To, Alexandria Chong, Keng Hua Chong (2014), “Identity of a Conserved Estate: Perspectives from the Old, Original and Marginalized Community in Tiong Bahru, Singapore”, IASTE 2014: WHOSE TRADITION? Kuala Lumpur, 2014.

Keng Hua Chong, Zheng Jia, eds. (2014), Re-Public: Placemaking in Singapore through Public Housing, Public Building and Public Space.

Keng Hua Chong, Zheng Jia, Debbie Loo, Mihye Cho (2014), “Singapore Housing and Public Space for Elderly”, European Network for Housing Research (ENHR) 2014 – Beyond Globalization: Remaking Housing Policy in a Complex World, Edinburgh.

Zheng Jia, Keng Hua Chong, Mihye Cho (2014), “Urban Regeneration of Aging Neighborhoods in High-density Asian Cities: A Comparative Research of Jangsu, Seoul and Redhill, Singapore”, Great Asian Street Symposium (GASS) 2014 – Asian Urban Places, Singapore.

Kien To, Keng Hua Chong (2014), “Traditional Shopping Streets in Tokyo: Physical and Social Dimensions of Creative Place Making towards Aging-friendly City”, Great Asian Street Symposium (GASS) 2014 – Asian Urban Places, Singapore.

CHONG Keng Hua, Jezamine CHUA Zihui, Zheng Jia, LEE Wei Ji Desmond, NG Zi Kai, NGUYEN Minh Chau, TAN Yen Lin, TAN Yen Ping Janice, TO Kien, VO Le Hoang Long, WONG Kai Qi Sharlene (2014), “Participatory Community Design Action Research: The Case of Phu Xuan Commune, HCMC”, Great Asian Street Symposium (GASS) 2014 – Asian Urban Places, Singapore.

Mihye Cho, Zheng Jia, Keng Hua Chong (2014), “Turning an Underdeveloped Old Neighborhood on Steep Slopes Into an Age-Friendly Place?: Regeneration of Jangsu Village in Seoul, South Korea”, 12th Global Conference on Aging: Health, Security and Community, HICC Hyderabad India.

Kien To, Keng Hua Chong (2014), “Traditional Japanese Shopping Streets as Elder-friendly and Aging-friendly Place: Perspectives from Tokyo, Japan”,12th Global Conference on Aging: Health, Security and Community, HICC Hyderabad India.

Debbie Loo, Zheng Jia, Keng Hua Chong (2014), “Negotiating Change: Multi-dimensional Narratives of a Singapore Neighborhood Under Redevelopment”, Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) 45th Conference – Building with Change, New Orleans.

Kien To, Zheng Jia, Keng Hua Chong (2014), “Street Space in Housing Estates: A Comparative Study of Phu My Hung, Ho Chi Minh City and Punggol, Singapore”, Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) 45th Conference – Building with Change, New Orleans.

Kien To, Keng Hua Chong (2013), “Heritage Conservation vs. Commercial Redevelopment in Historic City Centers: The Case of Hanoi’s French Colonial Quarter and Lessons from Singapore”, Journal of Habitat Engineering and Design, March 2013: 89-96.

Chong Keng Hua, Debbie Loo, Zheng Jia, eds. (2013), Redhill: Multidimensional Narratives.

Keng Hua Chong (2013), “City of Streets: Urban Design and Representation in Song China”, Politics in the History of Architecture as Cause & Consequence, selected papers from ARCHHIST’13 – Architecture, Politics, Art Conference, Istanbul.

Keng Hua Chong, Debbie Loo (2013), “Distributed Wellness Network: Aging-in-place in Singapore’s Public Housing”, Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) 44th Conference – Healthy + Healing Places, Providence.

Keng Hua Chong, Debbie Loo, Mihye Cho, Sunghee Shin (2013), “Urban Seniors and Their Public Culture: Finding Space For the Elderly in Singapore’s Public Housing Estate”, International Conference on Changing Cities – Spatial, Morphological, Formal & Socio-economic Dimensions, Skiathos island, Greece.

Mihye Cho, Sunghee Shin, Keng Hua Chong, Debbie Loo (2013), “Active Aging and Age-friendly Cities in Asia”, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2013 – New Geographical Frontiers: Arguing About Cities, London.

Keng Hua Chong, Hai-Yin Kong, Mihye Cho (2012), “Jingdezhen: Case Study of Creative Cultural Heritage and Organic Urban Ecology”, 15th Asian Congress of Architects (ACASIA) – A Modernism Challenge: Asian Cities and Architectural Heritage in a New Paradigm, Bali.

Chong Keng Hua (2012), “Crowd Sourcing Public Space: Learning from a Singapore Case”, Arte-Polis 4 International Conference – Creative Connectivity and the Making of Place: Living Smart by Design, Bandung, Indonesia.

Steffen Lehmann, Chong Keng Hua and Wynn Cam (2012), “Hub-to-Hub Singapore 2011 Part 2 Curatorial Statement: Planting Art in the City”, Singapore Architect 267.

Li Xiaodong, Chong Keng Hua (2009), Form-making in traditional Chinese architecture, Beijing: China Building Industry Press.

Chong Keng Hua, Ong Swee Hong (2009), “Open-source neighbourhood design”, 7th Modern Asian Architecture Network Conference (mAAN), New Delhi.

Heng Chye Kiang, Chong Keng Hua (2006), “Urban revitalization through housing induced public space”, 4th Great Asian Street Symposium (GASS), Singapore.

Chong Keng Hua, Heng Chye Kiang (2006), “Frame of reference in Chinese architectural representation: the case of Jiehua”, Reassessing East Asia in the Light of Urban and Architectural History (ReEA), Society of Architectural Historians of Japan, Kyoto.

Invited Presentations

Tongji Ageing Forum – Cities & Villages under the Ageing Perspectives, Ageing Community Lab, College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University, June 2015 (Guest Speaker)

Modern Aging Industry Talk – Aging & Architecture, June 2015 (Guest Speaker)

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) Design and Social Innovation in Asia Pacific (DESIAP), From Things to Services: The Rise of Service Design and Social Innovation in Asia Pacific, National Design Center, February 2015 (Guest Speaker)

Ministry of Health (MOH) Healthcare Innovation Forum: Healthcare Innovation by Design, National Design Center, November 2014 (Guest Speaker)

National Community Leadership Institute (NACLI) Leadership Dialogue: An Endearing Home in a Modern Kampung, Cheng San Community Club, September 2014 (Keynote Speaker)

Alexandra Health System, Aging-In-Place Forum: Building Communities to Promote Wellness, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, August 2014 (Keynote Speaker)

Architecture Association (AA) Workshop: Mud, Body & Scripts, Lyon, June 2014 (Keynote Speaker)

National University of Singapore (NUS) Bachelor of Environmental Studies, Singapore Futures Sustainability Symposium: The Population White Paper and the Environment, NUS University Town, September 2013 (Guest Speaker)

University of Hong Kong (HKU) and ETH Future Cities Laboratory (FCL), Cities in Asia: Studio SHA-HKG-SIN International Summer Program in Architecture, July 2013 and 2014 (Guest Speaker)

Ministry of National Development (MND) Urban Sustainability R&D Congress, Biopolis, June 2013 (Guest Speaker)

St. Joseph Institute, Human and the Built Environment Seminar, April 2013 (Guest Speaker)

Ministry of National Development (MND) Sustainable Urban Living (SUL) Grant Call, June 2012 (Guest Speaker)

Singapore Institute of Architect (SIA) Young Architectural League (YAL) Emerging Voices: Opportunism, July 2011 (Guest Speaker)

Really Architecture [re:ACT] – Geberit Shanghai Exchange Design Forum, May 2011 (Guest Speaker)

Economic Development Board (EDB) BETA Learning Festival, Singapore Art Museum @ 8Q, February 2011 (Guest Speaker)



Creative Ageing Cities

Spirit of Phu Xuan




Creative Ageing Cities Symposium

First ever symposium (organised by SURGe) of sharing and discussion with great speakers – from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Shanghai, United States, and Singapore – on how people are ageing creatively in different parts of the world, as well as how we can reconstruct the ageing narrative creatively for our cities.