The conditions of urban development are currently changing radically. Technological transformations such as automation and robotisation in industrial production are leading to new operating conditions for businesses and employees. New transportation and distribution systems are changing the scale and flow patterns of the urban agglomerations. The effects of the general application of information and communication technologies in everyday life are barely to overlook. Globalisation and internationalisation as well as the processes of European unification have led to increasing competition between urban agglomerations on European and world scales. On the other hand, the social contrasts within these agglomerations are growing. World-wide environmental problems, the necessity for a more efficient use of energy and natural resources as well as a limitation of CO2 emissions mean that we have to make adaptations to our urban structures and building fabric.
These developments have become a fundamental challenge for the discipline of Urbanism. New urban and regional models and new concepts of urbanisation in general need to be developed, new networks need to be established and the relation between the city and its surroundings needs to be defined anew. Existing urban structures need to be adapted, sites that have lost their function and waste sites need to be reoriented and redesigned. The changing role of the state and public private co-operation have led to new planning procedures, to new negotiation structures and to changed (and mostly longer term) planning perspectives. The shortage of ground calls for careful consideration, while at the same time economic interests have a great influence on the potential for realizing urban plans.
The new challenges require new approaches, new methods and instruments, and new strategies for urban planning. The planning of the future no longer can be based on the certainty of programs and conditions. Instead the planner is confronted with changing conditions and shifting programs. In this framework, more than before, design approaches will be pivotal. Exploratory research, the reflexive exploration of spatial potentials and the integration of design methods in spatial research will become a key issue for the scientific development of the discipline.
Due to the growing demands the Department of Urbanism of the Faculty of Architecture at the Delft University of Technology made great efforts during the last years to intensify and to enlarge the research in the field of urban transformation and sustainability. Special attention has been given to the development of Ph.D. research. The number of Ph.D. researchers working at the Department has been more than doubled.
To ensure the quality of the Ph.D. research the Department introduced a special procedure for periodic evaluation: after a period of nine months the potential Ph.D. candidates are asked to present their research design, theoretical framework and methodological approach to the members of the Department and to a peer group, drawn up by the professors of the Department and by external experts. Depending on the assessment of the peer group, the candidates will have the opportunity to continue their research at the Department.
In the meantime the (public) review sessions developed into an important element for the scientific debate of the Department. The sessions became a meeting point for the whole Department to discuss new research issues and new methodological approaches and to develop new research collaborations. In this framework the external members of the peer group are playing an important role. Their critics form a mirror for the scientific standards of the Department as well as for the scientific (and social) relevancy of the research issues.
With the publication of the series Urban Transformations and Sustainability we want to offer to a broader public the opportunity to deal with this debate. The different contributions are based on the papers the Ph.D. candidates prepared for the reviews and have been updated as a result of the remarks of the peer group and the discussion during the review sessions. As a result the contributions are reflecting the ongoing efforts to redefine the discipline of urbanism under globally changing conditions.
The review sessions of the Department started in 2004. This book presents the results of the first year. In that year two sessions were organised. On 11 March 2004 four Ph.D. candidates gave their presentations (G.J. Bruyns MSc., ir. M.G.A.D. Harteveld, drs. F.L. Hooimeijer and ir. C.E. Pinzon). Participating peers were prof.ir. H.C. Bekkering (TU Delft), prof.dr. A.M.J. Kreukels (University of Utrecht), prof.dr. V.J. Meyer (TU Delft), prof.dipl.ing. H.J. Rosemann (TU Delft), prof.ir. J.M. Schrijnen (TU Delft) and ir. D. Sijmons (H+N+S Landscape Architects).
On 7 Oktober 2004 the second meeting was organised, likewise with the presentations of six candidates (ir. A. van Bilsen, C. Pinilla Castro MSc., ir. M. Mendonça, ir. C. Mulders-Kusumo, R. Rocco MSc. and ir. D. Tunas MSc.). Participating peers in this case were prof.ir. H.C. Bekkering (TU Delft), prof.dr. R. van Engelsdorp Gastelaars (University of Amsterdam), dr. M. Jacobs, prof.dr. V.J. Meyer (TU Delft), prof.dipl.ing. H.J. Rosemann (TU Delft), prof.dr. W.G.M. Salet (University of Amsterdam), prof.ir. J.M. Schrijnen (TU Delft) and prof. J. Worthington (University of Sheffield, Chalmers University of Technology).