Projects and networks

Draft! Please note that the below information will be regularly updated over the upcoming weeks!

Students in the Planning Complex Cities studio are generally free to choose the region or urban area they wish to work on. In order to gain a deep understanding of spatial development patterns and institutional conditions, we encourage students to focus on the development and planning of regions, cities and neighbourhoods that are under investigation of ongoing research at the Department of Urbanism tough. Projects that provide excellent opportunities for the development of graduation project proposals are firstly described below. We highlight their scope, and the additional benefits they offer to involved students. To enhance the understanding of particular situations, students should also consider existing research networks at the Spatial Planning & Strategy and Urban Studies sections. The most relevant ones are described below secondly.


UfM Action Plan for Sustainable Urbanisation and Housing in the Mediterranean

The Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) is an intergovernmental organisation that brings together 43 countries in the Euro-Mediterranean region to promote dialogue and cooperation. The UfM Working Groups on Urban Regeneration and Housing have – in partnership with member states – developed an Action Plan on Sustainable Urbanisation and on Housing, both under the roof of the Urban Agenda for the Mediterranean of 2017. The section Spatial Planning & Strategy at TU Delft is the lead knowledge partner in the writing-up of these plans, and in charge of coordinating related research. As such, it aims to promote integrated urban regeneration and development across the Mediterranean region and to foster human development, economic prosperity, political stability and overall sustainability. The key areas of action for integrated urban planning concern:

  1. Informal settlements and deprived neighbourhoods as focus points for the creation of inclusive cities and regions;
  2. Former brownfields and railway sites as focus points for urban regeneration and area re-development;
  3. Heritage and tourism as drivers of economic prosperity;
  4. Port-areas, port-cities and their hinterlands as drivers of sustainable economic prosperity.

Benefits for participating graduation students include access to already accumulated knowledge and information, e.g. an overview over up-to-date policy frameworks used in European Union and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions. Besides coordinating the writing of action plans, TU Delft will coordinate a series of events to consult and inspire stakeholders around the region. The objective of these gathering is to create a community of academics, policy makers, and students from around the region, and to identify future leaders for positive change in the Mediterranean. Planning Complex Cities students who link their project to UfM research will thus benefit from being part of a broad, informed and ambitious partnership.
For more information, please click HERE, or contact: R.C.Rocco@tudelft.nl


Master Thesis Workshop The Hague Southwest

The Hague Southwest is a district in the City of the Hague, consisting of four early postwar neighbourhoods: Bouwlust, Vrederust, Morgenstond and Moerwijk. These four neighbourhoods provide accommodation to approximately 70,000 residents, which is comparable to the size of a small Dutch city. Many residents in these areas suffer from poverty, long-term unemployment, physical and mental health issues. For youngsters, there is a lack of opportunities related education, work, and leisure. Almost half of the residents struggle to get by on a daily basis and many residents often feel not safe in their own neighbourhood. The majority of the housing consists of medium-rise apartments in the social rented sector, many of which are nearing the end of their life cycle. The Hague Southwest has a lot of public space, but not all of this is used in optimal ways. Moreover, the region-wide need for significant housing construction has sparked a debate about densification in the area. The City of the Hague, local housing associations and the national government have joined forced in the so-called ‘Regiodeal Den Haag Zuidwest’ and will invest a lot of resources into these neighbourhoods in the coming years.

In this context, the LDE Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity (of which our faculty is one of the lead partners) has initiated a so-called Master Thesis Workshop The Hague Southwest. This graduation lab initiative aims to make a positive contribution (through graduation research and education) to the ambitions for The Hague Southwest. Within the Master Thesis Workshop (MTW), students with different backgrounds from the universities of Delft, Rotterdam and Leiden work on special themes/challenges.

Each student will be supervised by his/her own supervisors at the ‘home’ faculty. However, the MTW will offer an interdisciplinary vehicle for regular exchanges, not only between students, but also between students and civil servants from the city, housing associations and other professional actors. In other words, if you are keen on working together in your graduation project with other disciplines and with societal stakeholders, this may be a good choice for you. Your ‘home base’ will be the Planning Complex Cities Studio, but you will also be periodically active in the LDE Master Thesis Workshop.

The City of The Hague has offered a list of challenges (in Dutch) that they would like to be addressed by graduate students from the constituent faculties and departments represented in the LDE Centre Governance of Migration & Diversity. Below are some ‘typical’ Urbanism / Planning Complex Cities themes, which students can take on from September 2021 onwards:

  • What is an optimal composition of the population of The Hague Southwest? Which target groups may be very useful in ‘strengthening’ the population composition, and how is this supposed to work? To what extent can student housing (where and under which conditions) make a positive impact? How can Collective Private Commissioning (CPC) self-building and co-housing play a role in the wider area redevelopment?
  • Which factors are important for ‘balanced neighbourhoods’ (NB: this terms needs to be contextualized)? What is a ‘good’ mix of housing types? How do place-based social cohesion and a sense of community arise? How can a sense of community/collectivity be created between building blocks and in inner courtyards? What is the meaning of inner courtyards in this respect (now and in the future, when they may be used in more collective ways)? What can we learn from previous redevelopment projects in The Hague Southwest and in other cities, especially projects which are characterised by densification of a former low- or medium density housing area?
  • Placemaking: what can temporary initiatives in public space and beyond mean for The Hague Southwest? What are success factors of this type of temporality? What about examples and experiences elsewhere (whether or not based on empirical research)? How do placemaking and related temporal initiatives contribute to area redevelopment in general, and strengthening social cohesion/community in particular? Under which conditions do placemaking and related temporal initiatives contribute to (perceived) ownership by residents and local entrepreneurs?

For more information, please contact: R.J.Kleinhans@tudelft.nl

Paramaribo Urban Rehabilitation Program (PURP), in collaboration with the Interamerican Bank of Development (IDB)

Paramaribo, Suriname’s capital, is a city of 243,556 inhabitants that houses 45% of the country’s population. Its historic center (48 ha and 100 ha of buffer zones) was designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site in 2002. Developed during the 16th and 17th centuries, the historical center is considered an exceptional example of the fusion of European and indigenous South American culture, architecture and construction techniques. This concentration of historical and cultural heritage buildings, monuments, and urban sites endows the area with the potential to lead the city’s sustainable development. However, the area has been undergoing physical, social and economic deterioration, which places high risk on invaluable heritage buildings and on the continuity of the UNESCO heritage site designation.

To revive the historic center, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) finances the Paramaribo Urban Rehabilitation Program (PURP). The program facilitates rehabilitation of iconic but highly deteriorated monuments and landmarks, like the Waterfront area and the Parliament Building. It invests in improvements in walkability, street lighting, parking and traffic management in order to make sites more attractive for all: residents, employees, tourists and customers. The program also promotes private sector investments in touristic, cultural, residential and business activity in the historic center. In addition, the program seeks to strengthen the institutional framework for managing the World Heritage Site, for example by improving legislation and regulations for (heritage) buildings. The 5-year program started in 2017.

Drawing on earlier collaboration under the roof of the European Masters of Urbanism program (EMU), IDB supports graduation projects that connect to PURP. Participating students will benefit from interaction with stakeholders at government, civil society and other organisations. IDB can partially fund field work in 2021. A list of provisional topics can be found below:

  • Parking policy
  • Green infrastructure
  • Tourism potential of the historic center
  • Scenario Planning for public heritage buildings
  • Public Transport Improvement Plan for Paramaribo
  • Building codes for Heritage Buildings

For more information, please contact: L.M.DeCarvalhoFilho@tudelft.nl

Research Management in Per-Urban Areas: Going Beyond Urban Metabolism (REPAiR)

The REPAiR project draws on geodesign approach and the concept of extended Urban Metabolism to promote the use of waste as a resource in European regions. Given that a transition to circular economy is one of the fundamental urban challenges of today, the aim of the project is to support the regional stakeholders in co-exploration of regional challenges and opportunities for circular economy development, co-design of eco-innovative solutions and co-decision on strategies for their implementation. REPAiR makes a difference by emphasising the importance of and exploring the neglected spatial dimension of circular economy. Planning Complex Cities students who link their project to REPAiR research will benefit from the expertise generated so far as well as access to a wide range of experts and stakeholders.
For more information, please contact: M.M.Dabrowski@tudelft.nl

Srei Sophon: Rapid urban growth in secondary cities

The Cambodian city of Srei Sophon is going through major changes at the moment due to macro scale and regional development plans for infrastructure projects and reconstruction. The city has witnessed serious growth over the last years, attracting new businesses and people. This growth can be attributed to several factors, such as the good location of this secondary city, its connectivity to other major cities in Cambodia, and its close distance to Thailand. It is expected that an increasing number of both internal and international migrants will move to Srei Sophon and its hinterland.

Planning Complex Cities students who investigate this project can draw on on existing relationship with administrators of the city of Srei Sophon and several Universities and NGOs in Cambodia.
For more information, please contact: C.E.L.Newton-1@tudelft.nl


Post-industrial development in the city of Aalst

Aalst is one of the secondary cities in the Belgium region of Flanders and has about 86.000 inhabitants. . The city – predominantly known for its yearly carnival – is currently facing multiple challenges. An important one is posed by the presence of Tereos Syral, a large factory that gradually grew into a 10ha site in the centre of the city. This is the starting point to reflect on possible future development of the city.

Students who link their project to this case can draw on an established collaboration with stakeholders and have easy access to relevant sources. They need to be, however, aware that information and data will be in Dutch.
For more information, please contact: C.E.L.Newton-1@tudelft.nl


Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Research Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD)

The Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Research Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity (GMD) is a research centre of scholars that share a focus on the governance of migration and diversity. With its multi- and interdisciplinary knowledge infrastructure, the mission of the LDE Centre GMD is to generate knowledge for and have impact on the governance of migration and diversity at various levels of scale. Its main aim is to achieve resilient and inclusive societies.

TU Delft scholars connected to this centre tackle issues of urban development and socio-spatial justice, including social inequality, segregation and neighbourhood development. These issues are strongly related to migration and diversity. Segregation is for instance caused by social-spatial inequalities of people with a migration background or the concentration of low-income households in areas which reveal super-diversity in terms of migration backgrounds. Planning Complex Cities students who are interested in the socio-spatial implications of inequality, segregation, migration and diversity, can benefit from this network through access to scholars with various backgrounds, sources of information, and, in the near future, research projects jointly enacted by senior academics affiliated to the Centre.
For more information, please contact: R.J.Kleinhans@tudelft.nl


Graduation projects investigating Chinese cities and regions build up upon an expertise on spatial development, governance and spatial planning in China, present at the Spatial Planning & Strategy section. They profit from ongoing collaboration between TU Delft and Chinese partner institutions, particularly South China University of Technology (SCUT) in Guangzhou. Since 2012, SCUT and TU Delft have established a joint research centre on Urban Systems and Environment (USE). The centre facilitates interdisciplinary research on sustainable urbanization in the European Union and China. Comparative studies seek to enrich a common understanding of future challenges concerning sustainable urbanization, as well as innovations planning strategies, governance models and design solutions.

Planning Complex Cities students who participate in this network will benefit from accessibility to knowledge and data particularly related to the Greater Bay Area (GBA) where SCUT is located. Cities in this region -Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong for instance – have also been studied by MSc Urbanism students of previous years. Conducted research therefore provides for a broad, general understanding of the context and issues at hand, as well as potentials for future development. The most relevant topics are related to inclusive development in the context of migration, industrial transformation and climate change. However, students are not restricted to this platform when choosing their study cases. The same topics can be studied in other cities and regions in China, using own collaboration networks for data collection and field work. Teachers will support such initiatives with contacts, in for instance Beijing and Shanghai, if possible.
For more information, please contact: L.Qu@tudelft.nl

Comparative Analysis of Territorial Governance and Spatial Planning Systems in Europe (COMPASS)

In the late 1990’s the European Commission published the ‘EU Compendium on Spatial Planning Systems and Policies’ which covered the 15 EU member states at that time. Since then, the EU has expanded to 28 member states and there have been significant developments in pan-European territorial and cohesion policies. Territorial governance and spatial planning systems have now evolved to become one of the key components of integrated cross-sectoral development strategies and policy delivery mechanisms among ESPON member and partner states. The COMPASS project has investigated this change through raising policy questions on the influence of EU directives and policies, best-practices for cross-fertilisation of spatial and territorial development policies with EU Cohesion Policy, and ways to better reflect development policy perspectives in Cohesion Policy and other policies at the EU scale. The COMPASS project has been concluded in 2018. However, results are currently investigated in more depth and by means of case study analysis in several European countries.

Planning Complex Cities students who link their project to COMPASS can draw on a robust body of knowledge about spatial planning, regional policies, and governance in European countries as well as a comprehensive framework for comparative research. In addition they have potential access to a broad group of researchers in many European countries.
For more information, please contact: W.A.M.Zonneveld@tudelft.nl

Global Urban Lab

The Global Urban Lab is a communication and action platform, which is part of the TU Delft | Global Initiative. Its goal is to bring visibility and articulation to TU Delft staff and students doing work on urbanisation in the Global South (low- and middle-income contexts). Next to hosting discussions, lectures and events, the Global Urban Lab predominantly wants to connect and build knowledge: serving as a platform throughout all faculties, schools, and departments for researchers and practitioners to meet, learn and collaborate in a transdisciplinary manner. For more information, please visit http://www.globalurbanlab.org

Confronting Informality

Urban informality can be defined in many ways and is highly contested. Scholars have identified three schools of thought characterising debates on informal urbanisation: dualist, legalist and structuralist. Despite various critical accounts, a dualistic framework for the study of informality persists. The assumption of formality as the “norm” and informality as an “anomaly” can still be read in practice and policy. In recent debates, this binary opposition is being addressed by several authors, forcing a more nuanced understanding of what is “informal”.

Members of the Department of Urbanism are deeply engaged in the debate mentioned above, evidenced for instance by the organisation of five “Confronting Informality” Symposiums (https://confrontinginformality.org), including an international competition in 2018. Due to continuing engagement, Planning Complex Cities students can benefit from access to many experts on this topic, and are invited to help with the organisation of the symposium and the competition.

Some additional opportunities for linking graduation projects and research networks at the Department of Urbanism are not yet announced on this website.