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Please find below information on Planning Complex Cities graduation projects that have started in autumn 2021 and have been concluded in 2022. Click on project sub-titles to access the full graduation project reports at the TU Delft education repository.


Annam Irfan
Building Resilience with Vernacular Practice

Along Jhelum, Kashmir

Location: Kashmir, India/Pakistan
Mentors: Marcin Dabrowski, Claudiu Forgaci
Keywords: socio-ecological resilience, adaptive spatial planning, vernacular practices, climate adaptation

The thesis is situated in a contested region at the border between India and Pakistan along a shared basin of River Jhelum. It investigates the impact of rapid urbanization amidst a conflict that strained vernacular-water relationships and evolved over centuries. These local ties of a water-based community called Haenji were the strength and richness of Srinagar City’s heritage. However, the situation now is one of abandonment with conflict-created distrust at Jhelum, resulting in a ‘dying water culture’. The Planning gap with vernacular persists due to a top-down planning culture that has proved to be inefficient for the condition of Jhelum and its wetlands to the 2014 catastrophic floods.
The city of Srinagar was analysed spatially to reveal typical case study wetlands to read this planning and vernacular gap. This followed a field visit and interview with experts regarding the shifting planning perspectives, post-2014 floods towards resilience as presented in the Srinagar’s Master plan 2035. The analysis led to set of resilience principles and a strategy toolkit that helped develop three Resilience Themes for the City vision. These themes are then tested at the neighbourhood pilot at the Jhelum riverfront. The design strategy here aims at a model of vernacular sustainable neighbourhood guarding its waters through relationships built on diversity, adaptability and trust.
This thesis proposes a revival of vernacular socio-ecological bonds at River Jhelum in the city of Srinagar, suggesting that sustainable living with water necessitates the inclusion of vernacular practices that evolved to adapt best to surroundings. Theoretically, this borrows from the concept of socio-ecological resilience. It aims at adaptive spatial planning through an advocacy-led approach from local solutions to a city vision for resilience. Building on vernacular water culture serves as a middle ground between planning authorities, wetland ecosystems and residents of the city to develop trust and bridge the planning vernacular gap.


Bowen Yuan
Build Community Resilience Beyond Covid-19

Towards a liveable and smart future

Location: Wuhan, China
Mentors: Gregory Bracken, Maurice Harteveld
Keywords: community resilience, Covid-19, spatial planning, governance, urban renewal

The outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 took a huge toll on Wuhan. The community in metropolitan areas has played a key role in China’s pandemic control as a key battleground for closed management and become the focus of society under the pandemic prevention and control. However, its exposure of weak coping capacities makes building community resilience from an outbreak perspective urgent and critical. Besides, there are many inadequacies in the existing research on community resilience in China. Therefore, it is urgent and valuable to explore community resilience in the context of the Wuhan pandemic perspective.
This project aims to establish an integrated strategic framework to improve community resilience and achieve a liveable and smart urban environment in Wuhan in the long term. It responds to the main research question: What can we learn from the Covid-19 response in Wuhan to enhance community resilience in the long term by adopting planning strategies?
Taking the community response in Wuhan under the pandemic as a departure point, the project explores a framework for increasing community resilience in the long term, using spatial planning, governance, and human capital as measures. It proposes a toolkit of corresponding strategies – including temporary planning, urban renewal, digital transition, and public engagement – hoping to realize a vision of a liveable and smart future. Next, the Strategy Timeline provides an overview of four main stages with stage milestones, strategies, and key actions. Then the project-specific upgrading goes through four steps: deep analysis and data gathering, co-design, implementation, and evaluation. In the evaluation part, the rules guide the user to test the quality of the project by combining objective site-specific assessment and subject public feedback. At last, a diverse range of typology sites is selected. Through local design, the community resilience schematic frameworks and strategy toolkit are examined on the ground.
In general, this project focuses on urban upgrading with the theme of community resilience, using the new crown as a starting point. It is hoped that it can give more insights for later studies, including the resilience evaluation framework, the strategy toolkit, and the mechanisms of community planning to design implementation.


Hidde van Beek
Calming Regional Aridity

How a regional strategy can support just and resilient urbanism: The case study of North-East Africa

Location: North-East Africa
Mentors: Roberto Rocco, Fransje Hooimeijer
Keywords: arid climate, water shortage, transboundary cooperation, regional strategy

Arid regions throughout the world experience long periods of drought. Combined with a high temperature, this can lead to water shortage. Due to climate change, this is expected to worsen, as areas become drier and temperatures increase. One of the regions where this problem occurs is the region of North-East Africa. In this region, water stress is expected to increase in the (near) future due to an increase in demand for water and a decrease of the availability. While most of these countries depend on a shared water source, transboundary cooperation is lacking. A regional strategy, to create a common framework, is needed to cope with this regional problem, which can strengthen long-term resilience. This thesis tries to find which elements are crucial when creating a regional strategy for these regions.
North-East Africa has many regional differences: while the countries Sudan and Egypt are mainly dependent on water from the Nile, Libya lacks freshwater sources and depends on groundwater. Regional differences like this are why it is difficult to create one strategy, which addresses the whole region at once. This is why it is important to zoom in and see what local cities or regions specifically need. By zooming in, these local differences can be, together with challenges on a larger scale, form a strategy with which the regional can tackle water shortage.
The strategy itself contains three main aspects: priorities; outcomes; and outputs. The six main priorities can be used to set goals for both the larger and smaller scale for both present and future, and can help decision makers linking other topics to this common goal. The outcomes are linked to both these priorities, as well as the SDG’s, to improve the connectivity to other future policies and action plans. Outputs in this strategy are directly linked to the outcomes to provide input about how these outcomes are achievable. These outputs, also known as actions, are either spatial or policies. To illustrate the effect and possibilities of spatial actions, the Greater Cairo region is investigated on a smaller scale. This is done by looking into four main types, which illustrate the various forms of urban fabric in the city.
The main findings of this thesis are that a regional strategy in arid regions should take into account aspects on both small and large scale, as well as tackling issues in the present and future. Only by constantly switching between scales and time, a coherent and functioning strategy can be created.

For more information on Hidde van Beek: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hidde-van-beek/


Jie Chu
‘Xiangcun’ As A Landscape Productivity

Sustainable countryside for urban-rural Integration in the Greater Bay Area

Location: Greater Bay Area, China
Mentors: Lei Qu, Steffen Nijhuis
Keywords: sustainable countryside, urban-rural disparities, agriculture innovation, spatial strategy, integration

The countryside in China is standing at a crossroad of its destiny due to rapid urbanization. Influenced by the historical dual urban-rural relationship, it was regarded as the sacrifice of regional modernization. Since the reform and opening up of the country, a miraculous expansion of cities can be seen within, amongst others, the Greater Bay Area (GBA). However, the price of this great leap is a broken countryside losing independence: City-oriented planning has led to increasing urban-rural disparities, to replacing the agriculture landscape with mono-functional land use and to transforming rural area into satellite areas within a polycentric regional structure. Therefore, how to redefine the countryside and propose development patterns jumping out of the urbanization path has become an urgent challenge. However, effective spatial strategies and theory-based practices are currently limited.
This thesis aims to explore the potential of the modern countryside, which is called ‘Xiangcun’ in Chinese, as a sustainable settlement in the GBA. Through a comprehensive methodology taking the layers approach as a critical method, the project introspects the transition of the countryside from the perspectives of form, function and governance, and critiques the functional-zoning planning approach, which reinforces unbalanced local development. The project proposes a vision of a hybrid and productive rural system based on agricultural innovation, a flexible spatial framework that considers production, environment and liveability comprehensively, and a series of possible strategies related to existing patterns. In the future, the countryside could become a development option complementary to cities and contribute to the formation of a diverse and urban-rural integrated network of this international mega-metropolitan region.


Leto Demetriadou
Reconstructing Territorial Identities

The case of the refugee settlements in Nicosia, Cyprus

Location: Nicosia, Cyprus
Mentors: Verena Balz, Ana Petrovic
Keywords: community building, remembrance, refugee settlements, pattern language

One of the main results of Cyprus’s contemporary conflict is the Cypriot refugee identity creation. The thesis focuses on the Cypriot refugee settlements created from 1976 to 1991, unraveling the formation of the Greek Cypriot refugee community through space. The thesis project questions how community-led spatial planning allows the Cypriot refugee settlements to be transformed into livable environments while preserving the memories of their initial inhabitants. Additionally, the project expands on how the planning process builds a community in a conflict environment, and how the right to remembrance is spatialized conceptually while considering the spatial factors, which influence the right to remembrance seen in theoretical notions.
Through the analysis of the spatial footprint of the Cypriot refugees, the refugee settlements, aspects of their liveability state, and remembrance of their past are depicted. The refugee community’s and refugee settlement’s current image is illustrated through quantitative and qualitative analysis. These areas’ social consistency, and spatial characteristics, are combined with the actors and stakeholders involved, contributing to constructing and reconstructing the refugee identity. These elements have been used to form the spatial patterns that describe urgencies and critical features of the refugee community building. Moreover, the degree of place attachment of the refugee settlement residents and the factors responsible for their decay and embody the potential to contribute to community building are identified and used for the pattern language.
The spatial patterns formed through the analysis of Nicosia refugee settlements and global reference patterns dedicated to community express the socio-spatial characteristics of the social group – the refugees – and their living conditions, as well as how the life histories of the first generations have or can be imprinted through space. The patterns created represent starting points for synergies and cooperation among actors towards a socially conscious community’s future at the refugee settlements. Spatial patterns related to the remembrance of the refugee community, combined with liveability aspects, aim to summarize the key elements that enable a community-led strategy, resulting in the landscape memorialization of the refugee settlements.
The complexity of the Cypriot refugee case, primarily because of their internal displacement, the unclear future of the refugee properties, and the de facto division of the island since 1974, make the Cypriot refugees a unique, extremely complex, particularly interesting case.

For more information on Leto: www.linkedin.com/in/leto-demetriadou


Ohad Shapiro
Community Capital

Aiding low income communities in asserting their place in the urban space of Rotterdam

Location: Rotterdam, The Netherland
Mentors: Rodrigo Cardoso, Rients Dijkstra
Keywords: participation, socioeconomic capital, displacement, integration, gentrification

The place of urban low-income populations is increasingly coming under threat in the modern and globalized city – as urban centres are becoming more prominent and attractive parts of society and economy, and the address of poverty more socially prominent, questions and actions taken in this context increase the pressures on these vulnerable populations.
In Rotterdam, this manifests in the notion of urban renewal of low income neighbourhoods, promoting strategies of socio-spatial integration. These strategies attempt to introduce more affluent populations into these spaces in an effort of creating diverse communities that eliminate the notion of ‘bad’ neighbourhoods while elevating the local population already there, and allowing a suitable and attractive housing stock for the benefit of educated and affluent populations required by the urban economy.
However, this comes at a heavy price, as it requires the displacement of the majority of the local population, thus creating a contradiction – the same strategy that aims at aiding the poor is also the one threatening the displacement of most of them.
Rotterdam’s place-communities are trying to resist these changes, but are coming short due to lack of socio-economic capital – they lack funds, home ownership, social and political clout and the unity required in order to influence the processes that threaten them.
This research proposes a method of supplementing these lacks, which is based on a research conducted by the University of Birmingham, training and promoting community-based projects with the aid of external partners- and seeing them to fruition through engagement of local establishments.
The project here proposes to replicate the process in the Rotterdam context, adapting it and examining how external means can be implemented in aiding vulnerable populations achieve a loud and coherent voice in engaging Rotterdam’s planning establishment and assert their right to their own place in the city, allowing a role for low income and vulnerable in the western globalized metropolis.

For more information on Ohad: www.linkedin.com/in/ohadshapiro


Peishan Zhang
Regeneration For Young Generation

Promote liveability for young graduates through urban regeneration in Shenzhen

Location: Shenzhen, China
Mentors: Lei Qu, Tanja Herdt
Keywords: urban regeneration, liveability, young graduates, affordable housing, urban village

Young graduates are facing housing difficulties in the Chinese metropolis. The Chinese government published new policies to encourage regeneration of the land stock resources as affordable rental housing targeting young people. This study aims to explore how urban regeneration can benefit young graduates’ liveability. Specifically, it investigates the possibility to regenerate urban villages as affordable rental housing provisions. In this context, affordable rental housing tackles spatial inequities and should be located in opportunity-rich areas.
To test the assumption that urban villages can be regenerated as affordable rental housing, spatial analysis on multiple scales was conducted and four well-located urban villages were chosen as cases to study. The villages were evaluated based on the indicators from young graduates’ demand analysis, and different governance models were analysed to explore the possibilities. The results shows that the conflict between the private interest in densification and public interest in open space is the main challenge for regeneration, and not only the spatial intervention but also the operation mechanism need to be proposed.
These results suggest that encouraging spontaneous regeneration by combining top-down and bottom-up strategies may be an approach for future regeneration as well as a chance to legalize the informal village settlement. By improving the public space network and doing some experiments on pilot projects, the regeneration strategy can be applied to other well-located urban villages in Shenzhen, providing more affordable housing options for young graduates.

For more information on Peishan: https://www.linkedin.com/in/peishanzhang/


Priscilla Namwanje
The New (In)Formal

Leveraging formal and informal practices towards the just, resilient and sustainable urban development of Kampala

Location: Kampala/Uganda
Mentors: Roberto Rocco, Victor Munoz Sanz
Keywords: formal practices, informal practices, pattern language, informal settlements, wetland management

Uganda’s capital Kampala is grappling with the effects of rapid urbanization fueled by the population explosion that has transpired over the recent years. Due to the continued futility of urban planning efforts, the city’s growth has proceeded with minimal planning intervention, resulting in multiple urban development challenges.
Kampala’s urbanization is therefore largely informal, a trend that manifests most prominently in the housing sector. The perennial housing shortage has left most urbanites fighting for space within the city’s ever-growing informal settlements, which are typically situated in wetlands and are characterized by a lack of basic services and an absence of social and economic infrastructure. In addition to wetland encroachment, poor waste management and unsustainable settlement patterns, the increased downpour due to climate change has further exacerbated the flooding risk faced by the city. This research posits that urban flooding; along with other challenges is merely a consequence of unsustainable spatial planning practices. A critical review of Kampala’s planning history traces the underlying issue as that of spatial segregation, and problems with the outcomes of planning, implementation, and the planning processes. These issues, although inherited from colonial times, are further propelled by the conflicting formal and informal planning practices that more often than not, run parallel to each other.
Thus, the research explores how a new strategic framework that combines both the formal and informal practices can guide towards the successful implementation of future spatial plans. The proposal set forth is to test the Pattern Language (PL) methodology as a tool that can be used to combine the practices. In line with the PL methodology, the research documents, communicates and translates the practices. The outcome is a pattern language of flood resilience practices in the Nakivubo Wetland area, which patterns are then communicated to the relevant stakeholders through a workshop held between the local residents of the wetland communities and representatives from the formal institutions. This results into the pattern field, which is also the framework that combines the formal and informal practices. Lastly, the patterns are translated into design principles that are used to develop a spatial vision for the Nakivubo Wetland area and, through the framework, guide towards its successful implementation.

For more information on Priscilla: https://www.linkedin.com/in/priscilla-namwanje-8ba5068a/


Te Zang
Vendor Renaissance

Strategy for the vendor economy of Hulan old town

Location: Hulan, China
Mentors: Lei Qu, Verena Balz
Keywords: vendor economy, stall, strategy, policy, spatial

After 2020, the vendor economy has become a hot topic in China. Based on the background of the Chinese government’s intention to support the vendor economy, its importance is gradually being emphasized. As an essential component of the informal economy, the vendor economy enhances urban employment, helps the urban poor groups, and is an important part of China’s urban life and traditional culture. At the same time, it poses increasingly apparent conflicts and problems, such as space abuse and hygiene issues.
This project analyses the advantages of the vendor economy and the deep reasons for conflict. It proposes a strategy that preserves the benefits and addresses the disadvantages of the vendor economy. The design provides a better business environment for the participants, improves the quality of urban public space, and increases urban vitality while helping low-income people in the city. The research methodology and strategy development process will also provide the basis and inspiration for developing a good vendor economy in Chinese cities.


Xinqi Yao
Their Fortress

The regeneration of migrant laneways from both social and spatial perspectives

Location: Shanghai, China
Mentors: Gregory Bracken, Victor Muñoz Sanz
Keywords: migrant laneway, urban regeneration, public engagement, pattern language, reskilling strategy

The main object of this study is the migrant laneway, which refers to the community in the city centre that attracts migrant workers because of its low rent and good location. This kind of community in urgent need of renewal contains three aspects: spatial, social and the process of renewal. This study regards these three aspects as the main line running through the whole research, and studies the current space situation, residents’ life and the problems in the existing renewal process of migrant laneways.
Pattern language is the main analysis method and design tool of this research. By sorting out the patterns in the migrant laneway, these messy spaces are standardized. Each pattern is evaluated with criteria including both social value and land value, which can help designers balance the two in design. In addition, pattern language can be used to increase public engagement. This study introduces a new co-design toolkit: pattern buffet. This toolkit helps residents and designers co-design their communities. Increase work efficiency and program feasibility while improving public engagement. More importantly, the result of this design with public engagement is more sustainable and inclusive.
At the social level, this study also proposes a soft strategy to help migrant workers better integrate into the city. From the analysis, it can be concluded that the most fundamental reason why it is difficult for them to stay in Shanghai for a long time is that they cannot afford the house, or even the rent. Therefore, increasing their income is the core solution. The authors reskill these residents towards the opportunities found in a social trend: the senior care industry. While vacancies in the industry are being filled, migrant workers can get longer careers and higher wages to integrate into the city.
Therefore, this thesis develops an approach which enables the urban dilapidated areas to be regenerated in a co-design way. This regeneration framework is very new in the Chinese context. Pattern language, as the most important tool in this study, has been examined for its role and function. However, due to the epidemic, the pattern buffet part lacks practical operation, so the author cannot get feedback from the actual situation, which is also an aspect that this thesis can be further expanded.


Zahra Agbaria
Rejuvenating The Core Of Umm Al-Fahem

Highlighting the importance of the core of Umm Al-Fahem, and how to make it socially integrated and spatially accessible.

Location: Umm Al-Fahem, Israel
Mentors: Caroline newton, Leo van den Burg
Keywords: rejuvenation, familial system, inclusive planning, social integration, spatial accessibility, city core

Umm Al-Fahem is an Arab city in Israel, a city of social, geographic, historic, and political importance. Once a small village, Umm Al Fahem developed to be the third-largest Arab city in the state of Israel. It endured several hegemony stages of occupation and mandates, which shaped its socio-spatial systems through the years. The social and spatial features created a system of segregation and inaccessibility within the different scales of the city, mainly reflected in the core of the city. Therefore, given the long history of the city and its constant unplanned spatial growth, and its important cultural familial heritage, the city core gradually became impenetrable to those who do not live in it, socially and spatially. It became stagnated in order to prevent unauthorized access to it, only readable and open to those who culturally belong, resulting in the need for rejuvenation.
This project’s focus is to understand the city and its people, create intervention strategies in order to rejuvenate the core of Umm Al-Fahem to be socially integrated and spatially accessible on different scales. Through the medium of investigating the history and context of the city and proposing possible minimal and extreme spatial intervention scenarios, this project will be examining and answering the main question:
”To what extent can the socio-spatial strategies of rejuvenation make the stagnated core of Umm Al-Fahem be socially integrated and spatially accessible?”

For more information on Zahra: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zahra-agbaria-a6b5341a2/

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