About Iris Belle

Prof Dr Iris Belle is a technologist, multidisciplinary scientist and advisor. She focuses on technological innovations, their impact and applications in society, economies, governance, urban planning and design. As a Full Professor she teaches at the University of Applied Sciences Stuttgart where she also serves as the Dean of Studies at the International Master Programme Smart City Solutions. Her focus includes:

  • Technical master planning, IoT, smart cities, planning and governance;
  • Emerging verticals like prop tech and their applications;
  • Scientific and industrial collaborations, projects, and hackathons;
  • Governance processes on planning, design, and long-term quality of buildings, neighborhoods, societies, and national policy;
  • Impact of socio-technical systems on the built environment.

Iris holds a PhD in Geography from Heidelberg University and a Diploma in Architecture from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and was an architectural and urban designer at gmp-Architekten and AREP, produced events for DAAD, Beijing Institute of Architectural Design and stadtkultur-international. She is a frequent public speaker and author of the book From Economic Zone to Eco-city (Borntraeger Science Publisher, 2015). During her postdoctoral research from 2011 to 2015, she was a module coordinator at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) and at the Future Cities Lab (FCL), Singapore. For 2016 to 2019 she held an Assistant Professorship (Tenure Track) at the College of Architecture and Urban Design, Tongji University, Shanghai. From 2019 to 2022 she was a Leading Consultant at Drees & Sommer and conceptualized smart city strategies with municipalities, land and real estate developers. Her team also developed the Smart City Demonstrator, a platform eco-system for providers of smart city hardware, software and services and the real estate industry.

Iris is fluent in German, English, and Chinese.






The Smart City, integrated design and planning and UrbanTech

At REAL CORP 2019 IS THIS THE REAL WORLD? “Perfect Smart Cities” vs. “Real Emotional Cities”  in Karlsruhe on April ...

New forms of collective living and working in China’s countryside

At “Connecting Start-up Cities” at the Asia Pacific Weeks in Berlin on May 14th, 2019, Iris  talked about the opportunities ...

Hey City, why are you so smart?

“Hey City, why are you so smart?” was the provocative question passed to a panel of five experts I had ...

Contemporary China at Montagabendgespräche, RWTH Aachen

Trends in architectural design, master planning, the construction sector and how architects will matter for the future of China Contemporary ...

AEC Hackathon Shanghai 2017: “Keep the innovation going!”

In November 2017 I had the honor and pleasure to serve in the jury at the Shanghai Hackathon. Tech enthusiasts ...

„Future of Living“ workshop with field trips: Students from HS Bochum and Tongji CAUP meet to design buildings for collective living that is more than residential

It was a great privilege to host Prof. Erhard An-He Kinzelbach and 12 students from Bochum University of Applied Sciences ...

Better living in German and Chinese metropolises

The future of living is defined by the way citizens share spaces. It is defined by the way they draw ...

“The Future of Living” at the AEDES Metropolitan Laboratory and at the Asian Pacific Week’s Start-up Cities Workshop

"The Future of Living" will bring qualities of German collective housing projects to China. Our mission is to create places ...

Mid-term Review “Future of Living” at Tongji CAUP

On May 5, 2018 students of the the Studio "Future of Living" at Tongji CAUP pinned the progress of their design ...

ShanghaiBIM November Meeting

Blockchains, or distributed ledger technology, promise trusted exchange of data without a watchdog. Combining game theory and cryptography, the technology ...

Screencast – Blockchain technology in the AEC industry in China

Blockchain technology is seen as a disruptive force in the finance, insurance and logistics industry and blockchain think tanks have ...

GENIUS: Better Schools, Better Cities

Workshop on integrated and sustainable design for school buildings In September 2017 I was invited to participate at the GENIUS ...

First phase of the “GSO Leadership Academy 2017/18” in Boston

First phase of the “GSO Leadership Academy” for outstanding German speaking early- and mid-career scientists took place in Boston. Four ...

The architecture, engineering and construction industry and blockchain technology

Paper presented at the DADA 2017 International Conference on Digital Architecture at Nanjing University, Nanjing, China. Abstract: Abstract: The trusted ...

Interview for STADTMACHER Project

What parameters describe housing supply? Could special economic zones in Germany be a strategy for international cooperation? What is innovation ...

Seminar on “Life cycle evaluation of urban fragments with design scenarios” at Tianjin University

Seminar on “Life cycle evaluation of urban fragments with design scenarios” at Tianjin University, with Prof. Yang Wei (lead, Tianjin ...

Stadtmacher Treffen, Berlin | ”城市创者”项目启动活动,柏林

Citymaker-Pioneers from China and Germany with diverse backgrounds and the interested public met in Berlin. Together and in teams they ...

Deep Tech: Blockchains and DLT in the Construction Industry

Blockchain technology is a disruptive force in the finance, insurance and logistics industry and blockchain think tanks have been established by the main industry players. Architects, engineers and builders are beginning to ask how the new technology can be applied in the built environment. In my paper I explore what the governance structures in the AEC industries mean for blockchain applications. Working and researching in China while watching Europe, I am also see that the conditions for blockchain application in China differ from those back home. Watch the screencast of my 24-minute presentation!

Download the paper here.

The Future of Living

“The Future of Living” will bring qualities of German collective housing projects to China. Our mission is to create places where people can share their time and skills, where neighbors inspire and help one another. A place with shared spaces and shared costs where life together is better than alone. To achieve this we assist groups of resident in identifying what and how to share, and provide architectural design services for spatial solutions.

Project booklet is out!

Click here for project details, booklet preview and download.



Hassler, Uta, I. Belle (2020) Singapore’s Building Stock: A multi-scale documentation and analysis of transformations. München: Hirmer.

Belle, Iris (2015) From Economic Zone to Eco-city? Urban Governance and Urban Development Trends in Tianjin’s Coastal Area. Bornträger, Stuttgart.

Book Chapters

Belle, Iris, E. Bisignani, N. Krüger (2022) Drees & Sommer: Die Entwicklung von DeepSpaceBIM, dem digitalen Bauassistenten der Zukunft; in Kauer, Josef, H. Lehmkühler, R. Steinmann (Eds.) BIM & GIS: Grundlagen, Synergien und Best-Practice-Beispiele. Wichmann Verlag, Berlin: 164-171.

Belle, Iris (2019) Laboratories of Governance: A Comparative Analysis of Two New Towns in Tianjin’s Coastal Area; in: Gebhardt, Hans (Ed.) Urban Governance, Spatial Planning and Economic Development in 21th Century China. LIT Verlag, Münster: 67-94.

Journal and Magazine Papers

Belle, Iris (2017) Investing in Local Construction Skills: Scenarios for Upgrading the Built Environment with More Labor and Less Material Resources. Procedia Engineering: 968-974.

Belle, Iris, T. Wang, U. Hassler (2015) Age of land as parameter for sustainable transformation of Singapore’s building stock. Habitat International (48): 20-29.

Wang, Tao, I. Belle, U. Hassler (2015) Modelling of Singapore’s Topographic Transformation Based on DEMs. Geomorphology (231): 367-375.

Hassler, Uta, I. Belle, W. van Aaken (2012) From Godown to Downtown: the evolution of Singapore’s port-related building stock. Bollettino del Dipartimento di Conservazione dei Beni Architettonici ed Ambientali: 500-507.

Belle, Iris (2011) From Economic Growth to Sustainable Regional Development? The Case of China’s Tianjin Binhai New Area. Regions (282): 15-18.

Belle, Iris (2008) The Axis to Nature—Beijing Olympic Forest Park. Topos: European Landscape Magazine (63): 22.

Conference Papers and Presentations

2019. The Smart City, Integrated Design and Planning and Urban Tech, Real Corp, 02.04.2019, Karlsruhe.

2017. The Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industry and Blockchain Technology, International Conference on Digital Architecture DADA2017, Nanjing, China: 279-284.

2016. Investing in Local Construction Skills: Scenarios for Upgrading the Built Environment with More Labor and Less Material Resources. “Urban Transitions Conference”, 09.09.2016, Shanghai.

2015. Long-term Perspectives: Preservation of the Building Stock. “One Day Workshop on Reconciling Tensions between Tourism and Heritage Conservation in the Melaka World Heritage Site”, Melaka World Heritage Office, 19.08.2015“, Melaka.

2015. Neue Medien, neue Möglichkeiten—Stadtwirklichkeiten und Stadtvisionen in Singapur. (New media, new possibilities—Singapore’s urban realities and urban visions.) Workshop “Urbanisierung in Asien— Stadträume organisieren – Räume, sich in der Stadt zu organisieren“ (Urbanisation in Asia—Organising urban space—spaces for organising urban activities) 12.06.2015, Rosa-Luxemburg Stiftung Berlin.

2014. Topographic Change and Transformations of the Built Environment. Workshop “Reconstructing Singapore’s Disappeared Hills“, 26.09.2014, ETH Zürich.

2014. Transforming and Mining Urban Stocks. Symposium “Research, Outcomes And Prospects“, 25.09.2014, ETH Zürich.
2013. Local Boom and Global Networks: Making Sense of a Chinese Municipality. Keynote, 2nd International Seminar “Rethinking the Metropolis II“, 9.10.2013, UAM Xochimilco, Mexico-City.

2013. Hierarchies, Markets, Networks and the New Chinese City: Observations from the Tianjin Coastal Area. “Inter-Asian Seminar on Asian Megacities: Asian Urbanism and Beyond“, 16.08.2013, Chinese University, Hong Kong.

2012. From Godown to Downtown: The Evolution of Singapore‘s Port-related Building Stock. Conference: “Port Cities as Hotspots of Creative and Sustainable Local Development“, 01.09.2012, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.

2012. Researching Singapore‘s Building Stock. “World Urban Forum”, 03.09.2012, Naples.

2012. Of Survivors and Losers: Exploring Patterns of Transformation of Singapore‘s Building Stock. “2nd Future Cities Lab Conference“, 11.09.2012, Zürich.

2012. How Yesterday’s Planning Determines Today’s Strategies and Shapes Tomorrow’s City—Monitoring and Evaluating the Long-Term Effect of Planning on Singapore’s Building Stock. “Sustainable Cities—Annual Conference for the Consortium of African and Asian Studies“, 29.01.2012, Singapore.

2012. Patterns of Survival: Buildings in Rochor District, Singapore. “Planetary Urbanisation“, 31.01.2012, Singapore.

2011. Historic Structure and Dynamics of Singapore’s Building Stock. “Asian Urbanisms in the Age of Global Modernity“, Global Asia Institute, National University of Singapore, 20.09.2011, Singapore.

2010. with Wang Fang. General Aspects of the Chinese National and Corporate Culture(s). IMM 2010 class (executive MBA students) der GISMA Business School, 24.08.2010. Beijing.

2010. From Economic Growth to Sustainable Regional Development? The Case of China´s Tianjin Binhai New Area. “1st Workshop of the RSA Research Network Ecological Regional Development“, Institute of Ecological Regional Development, 11-12.06.2010, Dresden.

2009. Von der Sonderwirtschaftszone zur Eco-city—Urban Governance und Stadtentwicklung im Tianjin Binhai New Area. “8th NSE-Doktoranden-Kolloquium—Sustainability in Architecture and Urban Planning“, 3.10.2009, Karlsruhe.

2007. Urban Governance and Urban Development in Special Developent Zones—Institutions and Innovations after 1978. “Urban Governance, Urban Development and Economic Dynamics in Chinese Urban Agglomerations“, 19.10.2007, Nanjing University.