Alexander Wandl and Birgit Hausleitner at the reception after the defence.

Alexander Wandl obtained his PhD at TU Delft with a dissertation titled “Territories-in-between: A Cross-case Comparison of Dispersed Urban Development in Europe”. The defense took place at the AULA TU Delft  on 22 JAN 2020. The promotors were Professor Vincent Nadin and Professor Wil Zonneveld, and the co-promotor was Associate Professor Remon Roiij. Birgit Hausleitner and Ulf Hackauf were paranymphs.

Alex is part of the section of Environmental Technology and Design at the Department of Urbanism, a section led by Professor Arjan van Timmeren. van Timmeren was a member of the PhD committee, together with Paola Viganò (IUAV University of Venice and EPFL Lausanne), Prof. Axel Borsdorf (University of Innsbruck), Dr. David Hamers (Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving).

Alex has been contributing to education and research at the Department of Urbanism since his graduation at the EMU (European Master of Urbanism) with notable publications such as “Amsterwarm: Gebiedstypologie warmte-eiland Amsterdam” and “Hotterdam: How space is making Rotterdam warmer, how this affects the health of its inhabitants, and what can be done about it“, both in co-authorship with Frank van der Hoeven, The circular economy concept in design education: Enhancing understanding and innovation by means of situated learning (2019) in Urban Planning. Alex has also acted as editor of the special issue of Planning Practice and Research: Sustainable Planning of peri-urban areas (2017).

Alex leads a major Horizon 2020 research project titled REPAiR (Resource Management in Peri-Urban Areas: Going beyond urban metabolism), whose “”key innovations (…) are the integration of dynamic resource flow modelling, resource allocation together with urban and regional planning, and human behavioural aspects. REPAiR uses six peri-urban regions across Europe to develop, test and implement a GDSE as a tool for devising place-specific solutions to enhance resource efficiency and urban metabolism”.

Abstract of the PhD dissertation

An increasing body of literature suggests that the conventional idea of a gradual transition in spatial structure from urban to rural does not reflect contemporary patterns of urban development and their potential for sustainable development. The research introduces the concept of territories-in-between (TiB) to address the issues surrounding the sustainability of dispersed urban development. A cross-case comparison research design was chosen to develop methods and principles that can be transferred to other geographical contexts. Ten cases in five countries were studied with the aim to answer the following questions:What spatial structures characterise dispersed urban areas in Europe? Which morphological and functional structures of dispersed urban areas offer the potential for more sustainable development? If so, how can this potential be mapped and measured to inform regional planning and design? Are there similarities and dissimilarities concerning potentials of dispersed urban areas in different locations, planning cultures, topographies and histories? Do dispersed urban areas have distinct characteristics? In sum, the findings show that dispersed urban areas in Europe are quite distinct from urban and rural areas and that they share characteristics from one place to another. The research investigated three aspects of sustainable spatial development, the potential of multi-functionality, the provision of ecosystem services and the presence and potential for mixed-use.

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