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2017/18 Complex cities graduations

A summary of the work of the 2017/18 Complex cities graduates will become available here soon!


2016/17 Complex cities graduations

Alankrita Sarkar

Shaping Indian Cities: Planning and design with smart city technologies
Mentors: Vincent Nadin/Ulf Hackauf
Delhi, India

With the emergence of the latest concept of smart cities, there is a rapid change of lifestyle and a mass migration to cities. At the same time, cities have high demands of infrastructure such as transport and building, and resources such as food, water, and energy, as well as issues like scarcity of adequate land, unapproachable government. All these are adding to the extreme need to find smarter solutions for cities, that can provide better lieable conditions for the citizens. Thus, the Indian government planned 100 smart city project. Many questions were raised on the proposal justification on time, money, approach and objectives. Through this project, I have evaluated the current Indian smart city proposal as an urbanist and using the opportunity to refine the project for a realistic and promising future, rather than creating a label of smartness.In this project, I explored the conditional development of smart cities, investigating various examples from different continents and producing an analytical framework towards the approach of making a city smarter. These examples assisted me to set guidelines, to shape the Indian cities with its own definition of smartness. The focal point of this project is Delhi, but the other Indian cities will be able to learn from the process of selection of projects and principles. Although, due to lack of time, I would emphasis of few sectors of smartness, in selective neighbourhoods of Delhi.



Bhavana Vaddadi

Autonomous Shared Mobility & the Cities of Tomorrow: Impact of shared self-driving vehicles on the urban form of the city of Amsterdam
Mentors: Dominic Stead/Steffen Nijhuis
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Anyone who only thinks of technology, has not yet recognized that autonomous driving will change our society.” says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG, and indicates to what the future of mobility will look like.
Autonomous and shared mobility is the most talked about topic in the world of transport today. Self-driving shared vehicles will have a huge impact on urban life as they will begin to question the distinction between private and public transportation modes. This mobility trend will help in reducing time of travel with almost 80 percent fewer cars. The reduction in the number of cars on road will lead to changes in environment, traffic, congestion issues, efficiency, cost of road building and maintaining, urban sprawl and parking. With fewer cars, vast amount of land under parking, which is observed quite often in most cities today, could be freed for other public uses, thus changing the urban form of the city as we know it. Therefore, it is time for Transport Planners and Urban Designers to concentrate on this field of development and investigate the possible impact of Autonomous mobility on the city and space to reap maximum benefits in future. This project will explore the consequences of this mobility trend through scenarios with a thorough analysis of the possibilities for the city of Amsterdam and speculate how this will transform the city in future.



Céline Janssen

Refugee integration and self-organisation: Spatial strategies supporting the role of self-organisation in integration policies
Mentors: Verena Balz/Reinout Kleinhans
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Due to the high influx of asylum seekers in Europe in 2015, a large political debate about the arrival of refugees was manifested and still is in most European countries. Since increasing migration is making large cities more socially complex, refugee integration in spatial planning has become more urgent. Refugees often don’t have a starting point – a job, education or a social network – in the society that they arrive to. Integration is perceived as a two-edged process that simultaneously occurs in multiple domains of society: housing, employment, education, language, social connection and cultural knowledge. Approaching those domains in an integral way is desirable when facilitating refugee integration.

Integration policies -‘the planned’- and self-organisation -‘the unplanned’-, are two opposite responses to the arrival of refugees, and both have advantages and disadvantages per domain of integration. Through enlarging the role of self-organisation, integration policies can be enriched with a better understanding of the spatial and local context. Simultaneously, self-organisation can be enhanced with the help of planning for its financial and organisational capacity. Strategic spatial planning has the potential to provide conditions and to support the complementarity between self-organisation and integration policies.

This thesis includes an exploratory case-study analysis of integration policies and self-organised initiatives in the context of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Based on the analysis results, general principles have been designed to enhance the interrelations between self-organisation and integration policies per domain specifically. The principles are illustrated by spatial strategies for Rotterdam that propose organisational and spatial conditions, with the eventual aim to facilitate the integration of refugees in a better way.


Franziska Unzner

Justice and liveability in social housing regeneration: Learning lessons for London
Mentors: Vincent Nadin/Alexander Wandl
London, UK

Post-war council estates in the UK – due to issues in built quality, maintenance, design and an accumulation of social problems – have been object to various regeneration initiatives over the past decades. The latest market-led regeneration wave, however, is controversially and heatedly discussed. Council estates are densified and developed into mixed communities with the introduction of market tenure. Particularly in the context of London’s housing crisis, this approach is criticised to prioritise market demands over the needs of the original inhabitants and cause a loss of much needed genuinely affordable housing. The aim of this research is therefore to contribute to the search of methods to achieve more socially balanced development within these regeneration processes in London – in particular, to explore the role planning and design can play to ensure that the needs of lower income groups are met. The main evaluation criteria are the provision of genuinely affordable housing, meaningful resident engagement and design that responds to the various needs within mixed communities. A set of recommendations is developed based on the analysis of London’s planning and policy framework and two differing case studies: the controversial Heygate Estate/Elephant&Castle development and the infill approach of the Dover Court Estate regeneration. What is more, lessons are drawn from regeneration approaches in Amsterdam and Vienna, two cities well known for housing. The research revealed that estate regeneration is dependent on multiple economic, political and social factors. In London, central government directives including housing policy, funding allocation and regulation of local authorities play a decisive role in how individual regeneration schemes can be approached. At the same time, planning tasks such as a thorough decision making process, meaningful resident engagement, detailed and transparent monitoring as well as effective negotiation with the private sector can be supported on the city-wide or local level. Therefore, the proposal does not only include process and design recommendations, but also institutional capacity building strategies.



Juan Gutierrez Beltran

The Movement in Movement: Towards a Responsive and Cohesive Strategic Regeneration for Bogotá’s Historic City Center
Mentors: Diego Andres Sepulveda Carmona/Rients Dikstra
Bogota Colombia

This thesis aims to contribute to the definition of a comprehensive and integrated vision for Bogotá, Colombia, in terms of urban regeneration and social cohesion. It attempts to facilitate the construction of civic meaning, institutional cooperation and spatial revitalization in a historically unequal territory. By analyzing and recognizing the disparity between Bogotá’s urban transport and urban structure city models at the metropolitan level, this project will revise the impact and influence that past and prospective public transport systems could raise in the existing urban patterns and social dynamics of the Historic City Center. The objective is to redefine regeneration through mobilization in order to renegotiate the role that mobility structures could have as instruments for sustainable and inclusive socio-spatial transformations. The outlines are established under a systematized urban regeneration model engaged by the potentialities of a Sustainable Transit-Oriented Development. By providing an integrated framework, strategy and guidelines of this project will become an operative design platform able to promote new urban conditions and new forms of the state in the social, spatial and economic domain. The articulation between the values of mobility, identity and urban networks, from the local to the metropolitan level, will promote the consolidation of the City Center as the city’s main structural element once again. As a result, this will become a stepping stone for a competitive, genuinely democratic and socially-fair emerging metropolis model.


ISSUU | Juan Gutierrez Beltran
Vimeo | Juan Gutierrez Beltran
LinkedIn | Juan Gutierrez Beltran

Kritika Sha

An Informal Frame: Incorporating social & economic production of space in redevelopment of informal settlements
Mentors: Roberto Rocco/Arie Romein
Mumbai, India

The objective of this research is to investigate to what extent the existing production of space in informal settlements is related to its social ties and economic needs, and how it can be incorporated into a strategic framework for future redevelopment schemes. The relevance stems from the meteoric rise of informal settlements in the global south, despite several redevelopment projects and policy attempts. The selected case study is Dharavi, located in Mumbai, India.
This research, through a comprehensive analytical framework in Dharavi reveals strong correlation between the economic livelihoods and networks and the existing social structure. What is also revealed is the lack of policy in the current redevelopment that addresses the pre-existing economic networks and thereby its social structure. In order to approach redevelopment of informal settlements such as Dharavi, in a more inclusive and sustainable manner, this project aims to use the hypothesis of ‘economic clustering’ in order to ‘reframe’ and develop a strategic framework for Dharavi. The strategic framework is then texted through a design framework echoing the same elements at a selected site (13-compound) inside Dharavi. The frame of ‘economic clustering’ offers a reframe on the traditional model of redevelopment in informal settlements in India and perhaps extending to the global south.
As most informal settlements in the geographical realm of the global south have distinct economic patterns and social networks which play a vital part in their existence and perseverance, the proposed redevelopment model aims to address and examine these existing networks, incorporating them into a framework that provides a balanced combination of spatial guidelines and policy recommendations.



Silvana Corro Quintana

Tourism as an asset for sustainable development: Unveiling the potential of local assets for spatial development in Moche, Trujillo, Peru.
Mentors: Wil Zonneveld/Arie Romein
Trujillo, Peru

Trujillo, is the second most populous metropolitan area of Peru, with a population of around 950 000 inhabitants. Its urban growth has happened within unsustainable patterns, like massive urban sprawl in low density, and it seems to continue in the same direction.Next to that, the tourism sector in the country has grown in the last decades, and Trujillo has experienced this growth as well, due to the wide array of socio-cultural and environmental attractions, both natural and built, that it posses. In this context, the district of Moche holds one of the main spots that attract tourists to visit Trujillo, the Huacas del Sol y la Luna. However; the profit generated from the tourism sector does not necessarily go to improve the spatial conditions of the district, which currently faces unregulated urban sprawl, putting into risk its agricultural and archeological assets. Hence, it is urgency to think in ways of how can tourism be a tool that helps the district to reach levels of sustainable development, in all its dimensions: social, economic and environmental. This thesis research aims to find linkages on how by improving environmental conditions (of both urban and rural areas), the social and economic ones can also be positively affected. Moreover, the proposal, a strategic spatial plan, considers the governance aspect, thought as a key element for making the plan possible.And although the scope of the proposal goes at district level, it takes into account its context at metropolitan and even regional ones, in order to make a balance of how the proposed projects could have an impact in the bigger tourist route.



Stijn Stam

Amsterdam-Noord: The development of and the liveability in the north side of Amsterdam
Mentors: Francisco Colombo/Luisa Calabrese
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam is a popular city which creates problems on the housing market and in the overcrowded inner city. Amsterdam-Noord has been, to a large extend, a problem area for a long time. Now that the city is in need for new development areas, this thesis explores how Noord can contribute to the goals of the municipality. The development of the so-called ‘transformation zone’ at the northern IJ-bank will probably be easy to accomplish; the more difficult and therefore more interesting part concerns the area beyond the zone. This thesis proposes a new urban plan for the Buikslotermeer. In this plan an identity for the area is used to create a program for the area, the city and the region. The intervention intends to improve the liveability in Amsterdam-Noord and to provide a better connection between the city and its rural hinterland.

 T.H. Bekken

Transition through Connecting Oud-Charlois
Mentors: Francisco Colombo/Luisa Calabres
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

This thesis focusses on a transition for Oud-Charlois, taking into account the spatial, social and sustainable energy. Social structures, mobility patterns and renewable energy are the main focal points to come to an improved Oud-Charlois.

Vera Kuipers

Fostering Democracy: Through integration, self-organization and facilitation in public space.
Mentors: Stephen Read/Leo van den Burg
Brussels, Belgium

The design introduced in this graduation project is a spatial exploration of fostering democracy in Brussels in order to decrease social, economic & political inequality.

Xin Huang

Transforming Danwei housing: How can the old residential courts from the 1980s to 1990s in Guangzhou respond to diversified demands in urban renewal?
Mentors: Lei Qu/ Maurice Harteveld
Guangzhou, China

Danwei housing is a typical and common residential type in Chinese cities. After the Economic Reform radical changes of social structure and new urban development have influenced these old neighborhoods. They were restructured in all aspects. This thesis has looked into the current social, economic, and spatial transformation of Danwei housing in Guangzhou, analyzing what has been happening, and revealing what driving forces have been shaping processes. Results of the project are strategies, including institutional suggestions, design principles and test designs to address transformations.

Yuefeng Yang

An attempt to regain Paradise: Urban regeneration of the largest residential community – Paradise Gateway in Beijing – from the inter-scalar perspective
Mentors: Diego Andres Sepulveda Carmona/Dominic Stead
Beijing, China

Chinese cities are going through an intense transformation of urbanization, which the world haven’t experienced before. Beijing, as the capital, is the first to be affected by both developments and problems through this transformation. The flow of people from rural to urban, and from small cities to large cities is dramatic. The phenomenon of Drifters, migrants in Beijing, started to draw the attention of the whole society since the 1980s. Economic and political restrictions made the life adventures of Drifters hard enough. This project aims to find alternative solutions towards overcrowding densities and housing shortage crisis in Paradise Gateway, Beijing. Although my appeal is not as strong and influential as the Red political specialists, whose lifelong pursue is to prove how our people live in rejoicing based on imagination. I found it is my duty, as an urban planner, to work on a better future for citizens, instead of benumbing people with slogans. Born in Beijing, the author personally experienced the poor traffic condition of the city. Congestion can easily happen anywhere, especially at the peripheral of the city center, which is a clear sign of the overcrowding. Various measures towards congestion have been carried out, from the license-plate lottery to odd-and-even license plate control rule. There are rumors about tolls on ring road are going to be charged in the coming 2017. ‘The song for the fifth ring’ gains huge popularity among Citizens in Beijing, expressing the mixed feelings about the city’s infrastructure. Another part of the motivation of this project is the attempt to reveal the primary cause of congestion in Beijing. In conclusion, the project will aim toward counteracting the quality effects of the mega-residential communities in Beijing. These communities are playing an important role in the settlement of immigrants, where living condition and traffic condition is bad. As density rises, living quality of local citizens goes down. Is there any possibility of revitalizing the giant communities?



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