Spatial Planning and Urban Studies

The research group on spatial planning and urban studies focuses on the topics of sustainable urban development, densification, aesthetics, building customs, architecture, cultural heritage protection, landscape architecture, transformation of urban areas , infrastructure and mobility, universal design and development of theories on the built environment, and socio-spatial analytical tools and methods.

The multi-disciplinary group combines experts in the natural sciences, social sciences, law and the humanities. Our research emphasizes the connections between the users and the built environments beyond the individual factors. We are interested in how a combination of social and spatial factors interrelate and affect the physical environment as a framework for education, housing, work, and recreation. 

To understand and analyze these connections, they have to be identified and unpacked as tangible and measurable criteria that can be observed at local or regional level from different theoretical perspectives. 

Our current projects includes researching energy efficient buildings, urban street design for spatial quality and well-being, the connection between plan implementation and property structure at district level, national and international sustainability goals and how these affect spatial planning policy and practice, and the effect of geographical information systems on decision-making processes related to planning and construction matters.

Our interdisciplinary approach to the challenges and issues of the built environments and surroundings is characterized by our expertise in combining different socio-spatial analytical tools for theory and method development. 

The group is extensively involved with education at the bachelors and masters level, where we apply research-oriented teaching and problem-based learning.

Research Themes and Topics:

  • Architectural history and conservation theory 
  • Climate and energy consumption in buildings and transport
  • Cultural heritage protection
  • Densification
  • Landscape architecture
  • Planning and conflicts
  • Safe neighborhoods
  • Social segregation
  • Spatial quality
  • Spatial structure and networks
  • Socio-spatial analysis tools and methods (Space Syntax)
  • Sustainable urban development
  • Sustainable mobility and transport
  • Transport and infrastructure planning
  • Universal design
  • Urban and regional planning
  • Urban form and energy consumption 
  • Urban morphology and place phenomenology
  • Development of theories on the built environment

Head of Research Group

bilde av Akkelies van Nes

Akkelies van Nes


Research Group Members

Research Projects

Selected Publications

Ahmer, C.  2023, Striving for a new monumentality: the non-classical influence on Gunnar Asplund’s architectureJournal of Architecture 2023, Volume 28,  Issue 4, pp. 635-669

Istiani N.F.F, Alkadri, M.F., van Nes, A. &, Susanto D. 2023, “Investigating the spatial network of playgrounds during covid-19 based on a space syntax analysis case study: 10 playgrounds in Delft, the Netherlands,” Cogent Social Sciences, 9:1, 2163754

Kazemi Eilaki, N., Nordvik, T., Heldal, I., Ahmer, C. and Hagen, B.C., 2023
At-Risk People’s Safety in Fire Incidents: Insights Learned from Applying Reliability Index Method. I: 6th International Conference on System Reliability and Safety (ICSRS 2022). IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 2023 ISBN 978-1-6654-7091-9. s. 202-211

Djenaihi, W-M., Zemmouri, N., Djenane, M., and Van Nes, A. 2021, “Noise and spatial configuration – An approach to understand spatial accessibility for visually impaired people in Biskra, Algeria”Sustainability 2021, 13(19) 1009.

Van Nes, A. 2021, “Spatial configurations and walkability potentials. Measuring urban compactness with space syntax”, Sustainability 2021, 13, 5785.

Yamu C., Van Nes, A., and Garau, C. 2021, “Bill Hillier’s Legacy: Space Syntax – A Synopsis of Basic Concepts, Measures, and Empirical Application”, Sustainability 2021, 13 (6), 3394. 

Van Nes, A. 2021, “The Impact of Ring Roads on the Location Pattern of Shops in Town and City Centres. A Space Syntax Approach”, Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3927. 

Van Nes, A., and Yamu C., 2021, “Introduction to Space Syntax in Urban Studies”, Springer Nature. eBook ISBN 978-3-030-59140-3, Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-59139-7

Van Nes, A., 2021, “Measuring the degree of permeability of the main route network with angular step depth analyses.” In: Gervasi O, et,al. Computational Science and its applications – ICCSA 2021, Springer Nature, pp 323-338, ISBN 978-3-030-87015-7, 

Van Nes, A. and de Koning R.E. (eds), 2022, “Proceedings Space Syntax. 13th International Symposium," Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, Norway. ISBN: 978-82-93677-67-3 

von Schönfeld, K. C., Roberti, A. C. N., Lopes, B., & Conceição, G. (2023). (Re-)valuing and co-creating cultures of water: A transdisciplinary methodology for weaving a live tapestry of blue heritageInternational Journal of Heritage Studies

Von Schönfeld, K. C. (2023). Who for rather than who with—How intended audiences help determine framing dynamics in contested planningPlanning Practice & Research38(4), 541–563. 

von Schönfeld, K. C., & Ferreira, A. (2022). Mobility values in a finite world: Pathways beyond austerianism? Applied Mobilities, 1–27. 

Nikolaeva, A., Lin, Y.-T., Nello-Deakin, S., Rubin, O., & von Schönfeld, K. C. (2022). Living without commuting: Experiences of a less mobile life under COVID-19. Mobilities, 21.

Savini, F., Ferreira, A., & Schönfeld, K. C. von (Eds.). (2022). Post-growth planning: Cities beyond the market economy. Routledge. 

Ferreira, A., Oliveira, F. P., & von Schönfeld, K. C. (2022). Planning cities beyond digital colonization? Insights from the periphery. Land Use Policy. 

Ahmer, C., 2020, Riegl's 'Modern Cult of Monuments' as a theory underpinning practical conservation and restoration workJournal of Architectural Conservation 2020.

Ahmer, C., 2020, Alois Riegl Age Value Theory: Shifting Ideologies and Methods in Preservation Practices. (Case study, Akershus Castle). I: REHABEND 2020 construction pathology, rehabilitation technology and heritage management (8th REHABEND Congress) Granada (Spain), March 24th-27th, 2020. Editorial de la Universidad de Cantabria 2020. 

Ahmer, C.  2021, The qualities of works of architecture in relation to Universal Design. UD2021 International conference on Universal Design, Aalto University, Finland June 9th to 11th 2021. 

Ferreira A., von Schönfeld, K., Tan, W.G.Z and Papa, E. 2020, Maladaptive Planning and the Pro-Innovation Bias: Considering the Case of Automated Vehicles, Urban Science, 4(3), pp. 41–41. 

Hidayati, I., Tan, W.G.Z. and Yamu, C. H., 2020, How Gender Differences and Perceptions of Safety Shape Urban Mobility in Southeast Asia, Transportation Research. Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 73, pp. 155–173. 

Hidayati, I., Yamu, C. H. and Tan, W.G.Z., 2020, Realised Pedestrian Accessibility of an Informal Settlement in Jakarta, Indonesia, Journal of Urbanism. 

Hidayati, I., Yamu, C.H. and Tan W.G.Z., 2021, You have to drive: Impacts of planning policies on urban form and mobility behavior in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Journal of Urban Management.

Hidayati I., Yamu C., Tan W.G.Z., and Holzhacker R.L. 2021, Understanding Mobility Inequality in Jakarta with Space Syntax. In: Holzhacker R.L., Tan W.G.Z. (eds) Challenges of Governance. Development and Governance. Springer, Cham. 

Holzhacker R.L., & Tan W.G.Z. (eds) 2021, Challenges of Governance Development and Regional Integration in Southeast Asia and ASEAN. Cham, Springer International Publishing AG.

Koning, R.; Roald, H.J.; and van Nes, A. 2020, A Scientific Approach to the Densification Debate in Bergen Centre in NorwaySustainability 2020, 12, 9178. 

Koning. R.E., Tan, W.G.Z., and van Nes, A., 2020, Assessing Spatial Configurations and Transport Energy Usage for Planning Sustainable CommunitiesSustainability 2020, 12, 8146. 

Miranda, J.V., and van Nes, A., 2020, Sexual violence in the city. Space, gender and occurrence of sexual violence in RotterdamSustainability 2020, 12, 7609. 

van Nes, A., and Yamu C., 2021, Introduction to Space Syntax in Urban Studies, Springer Nature. 

van Nes, A., and Yamu C., 2020, Exploring challenges in Space Syntax theory building: The use of positivist and hermeneutic explanation modelsSustainability 2020, 12, 7133. 

van Nes, A., 2019, Applied mathematics on urban space. In: D’Acci L. (ed) Mathematics of urban morphology, Springer Nature, Birkhäuser Basel, eBook ISBN 978-3-030-12381-9, Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-12380-2

von Schönfeld, K.,Tan, W.G.Z., Curtis, C., and Visser, J. F. 2020, Every-Day Mobility Anecdotes: Addressing the Blind Spot of Goal- and Expert-Oriented Mobility Research, Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 7, pp. 100169–100169. 

Tan W.G.Z., and Holzhacker R.L. 2021, Introduction. In: Holzhacker R.L., Tan W.G.Z. (eds) Challenges of Governance. Development and Governance. Springer, Cham. 

Ye, Y., and Van Nes, A., 2014, Quantitative tools in urban morphology: Combining space syntax, spacematrix and mixed-use index in a GIS framework, in: Journal of Urban Morphology, Vol 18, number 2, pp 97-118.


Important Conferences