The Section of Urban Design at TU Delft builds upon the long-established Delft tradition of urban design. Our activities are based on the understanding of the built environment as a cultivated landscape, addressing both the design of the urban fabric and the territory and its infrastructures. In our work, we address the spatial configuration of social and ecological processes of urban transformation in the Netherlands and beyond. Our goals are threefold: to gain deep insights on the drivers of urbanization through quantitative and qualitative spatial analyses; to develop urban design solutions, methodologies, and instruments to support sustainable urban development; and to critically reflect on the theories, debates, and practices of the discipline of urban design itself.
We are committed to a collaborative and contextual approach. Thus, our work operates across scales and is multidisciplinary. In the face of the climate crisis, accelerated technological development, and demographic transition, we study urban morphology and typology, housing, and public space design in a productive synergy with engineering, the social sciences, humanities, and the life sciences. In its comprehensive approach, the section brings together urban design practice with theoretical and methodological investigations to support environmental and socio-spatial justice through design. Here we see the need for a constant reflection of the state of the discipline, allowing urban design to be critically positioned within broader theoretical debates around the urban condition.
Contemporary urban challenges demand new visions for urban design education. We want our students to understand, master, and critically reflect design tasks and processes while actively participating in discussions about urban futures. Our teaching is oriented towards practice-based case studies and emphasizes analysis and research-based design methodologies. We help students develop advanced analytical and synthetic skills and explore digital tools and new forms of representation. Our educational portfolio in Bachelor, Master, and Ph.D. education is strongly connected to our research. It includes the three graduation studios Design of the Urban Fabric, Transitional Territories and City of the Future (cross-domain studio), courses on theory and methods of urbanism (M.Sc. Urbanism), the fundamentals of urban design and sustainable urbanism (Bachelor). We issued and participated in the successful MOOCs Urban Design for the Public Good, Inclusive Cities, Nature Based Metropolitan Solutions and Re-Imagining Port Cities: Understanding Space, Society and Culture. In the Honors programme and our doctoral education, we support groundbreaking research on topics such as water-sensitive urban design, heritage, inclusive cities, mixed-use developments, productive landscapes, design methodology, and digitization.
The section’s research activities and networks are organized along three main lines: Cities in Transition, focusing on environmental quality and health, inclusive cities and public space, the adaptation of urban form, and heritage; Urban Territories which sets the focus on Delta Urbanism, productive landscapes, and urban climate resilience; and Theories and Methods of Urban Design, which is concerned with the development of new design processes, including co-creation, innovation of analytical methods, progressive design theory, co-creation, and the use of digital tools and data-driven design, for example in the VR-Lab. We have been actively exploring such topics through diverse research initiatives funded by national and international funding agencies.
The Department of Urbanism at TU Delft
The Department of Urbanism in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment encompasses and combines urban design, spatial planning, landscape architecture and environmental modelling. The Department has a global reputation for excellence in research and education. It is particularly well known for the ‘Dutch approach’ to urbanism that brings together the creativity of design with academic research methods. This ‘integral’ urbanism enjoys high international esteem in professional practice, research and education.
The Department enables staff and students to advance knowledge of sustainable and fair urban and regional development. We question the relationship between qualities of urban and regional environments with the social, economic and environmental performance of societies, and the wellbeing of citizens. Our graduates learn to take an independent and active role in shaping urban development, but are also critical and reflective, demonstrating an awareness of both the potential and limitations of professional interventions. We explore critical questions of urbanism in the Netherlands and with partners in many other countries, but always with sensitivity to local conditions and cultures.
In a 2016 research assessment conducted under the Dutch Standard Evaluation Protocol, the Department’s research programme was assessed as ‘world leading/excellent’ in ‘research quality’ and ‘social relevance’, and ‘very good’ in ‘viability. TU Delft is ranked second in the world for architecture and the built environment in the QS World University rankings (2022), and first in the world for urban planning in the University Rankings of Academic Performance (2020-21).
Concept and design: Kees de Klein
Web content management and edition: Víctor Muñoz Sanz, Noud van de Mast