Academic research of the Center of Mobility and Spatial Planning (AMRP) is organised around its main theoretical ideology of the actor-relational approach.
Rooted in innovative post-structuralist relational and evolutionary scholarship in the field of planning, economics, social geography and governance, the actor-relational approach builds upon notions from complexity theory and philosophy of science (e.g. actor-network theory), such as co-evolution, resilience, self-organization, the commons and transition management. The approach focuses on the process of network building, in which various actors and spatial entities are brought together around new and innovative business cases and spatial associations, in order to attract new, robust and sustainable market alliances.
Reaching beyond the current debate on state controlled versus neo-liberal planning, AMRP takes the position that not only governments, but also (and sometimes predominantly) citizens, entrepreneurs, artists, communities and businesses pro-actively contribute to spatial transformations. The actor-relational approach has already been applied to diverging topics, ranging from water and flood risk management, environmental health, energy transition, open space and sprawl, housing, heritage, regional (mainport) economy, climate change, mobility issues, civic initiatives, urban regeneration and complex spatial transformation processes. Researchers at AMRP have been among the pioneering spatial planning scholars annunciating the emergence of citizen-led initiatives in urban development, addressing the major impact this emergence has on the profession of spatial planning, and as such, laid the base for the now widely spread and applied notion of urban self-organization.
AMRP engages in further developing the actor-relational approach along two lines. On the one hand, research it focussed on the further theorisation of the approach through cross-disciplinary research touching on philosophy, performance arts, engineering and geography. On the other hand, the actor-relational approach is continuously applied to new, emergent spatial challenges and ongoing planning discourses in the Flemish urban landscape and Eurodelta (Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt). Research takes place in continuous interactions between these two lines. It searches for less static and more adaptive and complexity sensitive planning approaches, and concrete perspectives for planning action in a world of complex, undefined spatial becoming. AMRP takes a pro-active and operational research approach, in which participation, stakeholder involvement, daily urban and planning practices, experiments and Living Labs are key principles – in addition to the usual retrospective case studies.
Within AMRP, the following doctoral studies are conducted:
- Alda Alagic: regional assemblages (in samenwerking met Fontys Hogeschool Tilburg)
- Muhammad Aamir Basheer: the impact of Bus Rapid Transit (funded by HEC)
- Peter Davids: motivating homeowners in flood risk protection through a flood label
- Jiajia Gong: an evolutionary framework for Featured Towns identification and strategies for policy making and planning
- Isabelle Loris: spatial aspects of housing: the demographic challenge in its spatial context
- Annelies Staessen: screened urbanisation;urban planning and the imagination of the Flemish landscape in film productions
- Karim van Knippenberg: community-led adaptive re-use of heritage sites
- Anneloes Van Noordt: local energy initiatives
- Yan Wang: urban development and water management in the Euro Delta in reference to the Grand Canal and Yangtze River Delta
Post-doctoral research within AMRP is conducted on the following topics:
- Beitske Boonstra: self-organisation, complexity and improvisation in community-led spatial development (OpenHeritage)
- Barbara Tempels: co-evolution, resilience and adaptive governance in water and flood risk management (FRAMES, FLOODLABEL)
- Karel Van den Berghe: planning the Port City: A Contribution to and Application of the Relational Approach, Based on Five Case Studies in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and Ghent (Belgium)
- Suzanne Van Brussel: the Art of Governing in the Complex Mobility Transition: The Value of Adding an Orgware Agenda
- Koos Fransen: travelling Beyond Spatial Analysis: The Impact of Temporal and Personal Restrictions on Equitable Access to Opportunities
- Thomas Verbeek: living Cities: Reconnecting; Environmental Health and Urban Planning
- Barbara Tempels: flood Resilience: a Co-Evolutionary Approach. Residents, Spatial Developments and Flood Risk Management in the Dender Basin
- Els Terryn: de situationele benadering; een onderzoek naar de betekenis en mogelijkheden van beleidsevaluatie in de ruimtelijke planning