Planning Complex Cities graduations consider spatial planning and territorial governance schemes in areas and regions, and investigate how these can be improved to achieve more sustainable spatial outcomes. Conclusions recommend institutional change and demonstrate, by means of design, how this can lead to new spatial development patterns. The studio knows three focus areas, notably (1) Complex Cities of the Global South, (2) (European) Complex Cities, and (3)  Chinese Complex Cities. As planning and governance is particular in these parts of the world, concepts to explain their influence are particular. In methodological terms, the studio focuses on approaches that link institutional and spatial analysis, on comparative planning research, and on design-led approaches to planning and governance. Below it is briefly described how these common objectives and approaches are facilitated during a studio programme. Please note that parts of the programme still need final confirmation!

Graduation orientation

The first five weeks of Master of Urbanism graduations are dedicated to orientation. During week 1 and 2 of this orientation period students select a research group and a main mentor. The Planning Complex Cities group assists in this during two events. During a first introductory event researchers will elaborate upon the topics and focus areas of Planning Complex Cities graduations. The second event  helps to students to reflect upon the implications of these topics for their intended graduation projects. In addition it provides students with the opportunity to meet Planning Complex Cities mentors in person.

  • Planning Complex Cities: An introduction to graduation topics.
  • Planning Complex Cities: A workshop to find common interests.

Lecture series: Key concepts of Planning Complex Cities graduations
Weeks 3-5 of the graduation orientation period are dedicated to the first drafting of a thesis plan and the selection of a second mentor. During a lecture series key concepts of Planning Complex Cities graduations will be introduced. The series creates a common ground of Planning Complex Cities graduations and helps students to establish a stable theoretical research framework. The series is dedicated to Planning Complex Cities students. Students that have chosen another research group are invited to participate!

  • Good planning? Discussing planning in places of study.
    Dominic Stead (to be confirmed)
    This lecture will introduce key concepts from the field of planning that Planning Complex Cities graduation students engage with. During discussion students formulate critique on the planning system in the place of their study, to sharpen their initial prepositions on improvement.
  • Good governance? Discussing governance in places of study.
    Marcin Dabrowski, Roberto Rocco (to be confirmed)
    This lecture will introduce key concepts from the field of governance. During discussion students formulate their critique on governance systems they engage with, to sharpen their prepositions on improvement.
  • Good design? Discussing design in places of study.
    Verena Balz, Wil Zonneveld, Gregory Bracken (to be confirmed)
    This lecture will elaborate key concepts from the field of design and how these relate to notions on spatial planning and governance. During discussion students explain how they intend to involve design in their graduation projects.

Workshop series: Key methodology of Planning Complex Cities graduations

The period between week 1.5 and the first P1 assessment are dedicated to the finalizing of a thesis plan. A methodology workshop series will help Planning Complex Cities graduation students to prepare for empirical analysis that applies their propositions and theoretical knowledge to the place of their study. The series complements the Methodology course (AR3U012) and the expertise in spatial analysis and design that students gained during their MSc Urbanism curriculum. It will focus on methodologies that have particular relevance for Planning Complex Cities graduations. The methodology workshop series will involve PhD students who will elaborate the methodologies they use in their research and reflect on the conditions that likewise enhanced or hindered their application. Sessions will take the form of open discussions/workshops so that the particular needs of graduation students can be addressed.

Please note that the list of workshops below is indicative!

  • Exercising the building of a methodological framework
    The Methodology course (AR3U012) provides students with knowledge on research and design approaches that are relevant for the field of Urbanism, MSc Urbanism graduations in particular. During this session the application of this knowledge in Planning Complex Cities graduations will be practiced. In addition an inventory of methods that are of particular importance for current graduation students will be made.
  • Field work
    Many Planning Complex Cities students plan to visit their study areas. This session is dedicated to the preparation of this field work. First general criteria that qualify information collected during site visits for academic research will be discussed. During the second half of the session, practicalities in preparing and conducting field work will gain attention. Mentors who are experienced in the conditions that shape particular focus areas will advise. Former Complex cities graduation students will share their experiences (to be confirmed).
    (Please note that it is also worthwhile for students who do not plan to go abroad to visit the session!)
  • Analysing perspectives and participation of actors
    This session will be assisted by PhD researchers who employ different approaches to involving the perspectives of actors and stakeholders in their planning and design research. The appropriateness of employing similar approaches in Planning Complex Cities graduations will be discussed.
  • Comparative planning and policy analysis
    Planning Complex Cities graduations often involve comparative research approaches.  This sessions will discuss the benefits of a comparative research perspective and elaborate the prerequisites, barriers and challenges that it requires and poses.

Other common activities

Discussing Planning Complex Cities graduations

During week 1.1 and 1.2 students decide upon a research group and topic. From week 1.3 onward Planning Complex Cities students, mentors, experts and PhD students will form dedicated groups to discuss the progress of graduations. Initial guidelines for peer group discussions are the Planning Complex Cities focus areas (China, Europe, the Global South), and the key concepts that relate to these. However, students have a strong say in shaping discussions. In case there occur shared questions across focus areas, the studio coordinator will help to set up discussion.

  • Peer review and learning @ Ps
    The programme foresees exchange and learning during or around assessment moments of graduations. P1, that does not formally require the attendance of 2nd mentors and Delegates of the Board of Examiners, will be a common event. P3 will be organized in a way that supports exchange, in particular between graduation students who share an interest in focus areas. Other assessment moments of students  (P2, P5) will be broadly announced, so students have the opportunity to learn from each other’s presentations. Important P presentations will be prepared by test-presentations, in case students wish for this.
  • Social events
    Over the last years we have developed some routines in building a studio group. A common photo session is among these. During this session Roberto Rocco will have the equipment ready to take portrait photography.

General set-up of the programme

When compared to other MSc Urbanism graduation studios, students who choose for a Planning Complex Cities graduation, enjoy a relatively high degree of freedom in the choice of their graduation topic and location. The above programme is set up to provide them with expertise in regionalization, spatial planning and territorial governance, present at the Department of Urbanism. It is also set up to enhance the formation of groups and sub-groups, and thus cohesion among students whose interests seem first dispersed (Figure 1). The largest group – the studio group itself – is formed by a common interest of all participants in how planning and governance influence sustainable spatial outcomes. Within this larger group are groups that are initially formed by a common curiosity about focus areas. These are enhanced through discussing related key words and concepts. The smallest groups are formed, as in other graduation studio’s, by one student and his or her mentor team. It is important to note that the scheme requires active communication from the side of students, e.g. the timely expression of interests, problems and needs.

Related to the groups set out above are a set of responsible people. These and their functions are listed below

Planning Complex Cities studio coordinator
Verena Balz, v.e.balz@tudelft.nl

  • Helps students find the right mentor during graduation orientation,
  • Organizes lectures and workshops,
  • Assists in the set-up of peer discussions and other events,
  • Assists in the organisation of P1 and 3 (peer review),
  • Provides students with relevant information/runs the Planning Complex Cities website (in case students wish to publish information, please don’t hesitate to contact),
  • Is an important contact in case students have new ideas about the studio format, feel  unsatisfied about it, or face particular problems during graduation.

Researchers responsible for topics in focus areas

  • Assists in the set-up and conduction of peer discussions,
  • Assist students in data acquisition, or the laying of contacts to stakeholders/organisations.

Chinese Complex Cities

(European) Complex Cities

Complex Cities of the Global South

Figure 1. Group formats in Planning Complex Cities









6 thoughts on “Graduation program 2019/20.

  1. Pingback: Upcoming events. |

  2. Pingback: Upcoming events. |

  3. Pingback: Orient! First event. |

  4. Pingback: Inclusive Cities – Sao Paulo, Shenzhen. |

  5. Pingback: Global cities – Third event on Complex cities graduations. |

  6. Pingback: Internationalisation and Planning – Fourth event on Complex cities graduations. |

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