Advanced Topics

Throughout the master the students will work on several small research assignments. These so-called advanced topics are related to ongoing research of the academic staff. In this way the students get a glimpse of current planning issues and innovative perspectives that are explored in state-of-the-art planning research.

Below you can find three examples of such advanced topics

The Governance of Metropolitan River Delta's
Guidance: Luuk Boelens (responsible lecturer), Barbara Tempels

This topic took place within the framework of an EU-Asia International Seminar aboutbzvr-1 Metropolitan Delta Regions, which was organized by the Department for Mobility and Spatial Planning. Students systematically studied and compared four issues within seven metropolitan deltas: Urbanization patterns, Water management, the impact of Climate Change, and Food and Energy production. Based on that comparison, two metropolitan delta’s were analyzed more in detail: the Niger Delta and the Mekong Delta. Students concluded that most urban, economic, social and spatial problems in the Niger Delta are the result of environmental problems caused by the intensive oil production. A possible solution to these problems (and in reference to the successful Brendspar operation in 1996) could come in the form of an international buy-ban of the products of these transnational oil companies. In contrast, the Mekong Delta is confronted with proposals and design solutions of Western planners and water managers, bypassing indigenous solutions that are more adapted to local conditions. New bottom-up initiatives, based on this cultural heritage are needed to produce a resilient future course of action. These conclusions were presented by the students at the international seminar mentioned above, and at this moment reworked into an article, which has been send in for peer review and academic publication. 

Urbanizing the university: an exercise in temporary urbanism, spring 2015
Guidance: Michiel Dehaene (responsible lecturer), Frank Van Hulle, Tom Broes.

This advanced topic took place in preparation of the 200th anniversary Ghent University celebrates in 2017. Students were asked to reflect on the historical position of the university within the city of Ghent, The topic explored how temporarily use of public space could enhance the urban significance of the presence of the university in Ghent. The existing cooperation between the city and university has mainly taken into account the shared space use in the public domain. In 2013 this already gave rise to a concrete exercise in co-creation with students for the reconversion of the street adjoining the faculty as part of the cities ‘living streets’ programme. In the context of this advanced topic students were asked to invert the logic in which university users invade the public domain but rather think about the urban use of university spaces. In particular, students were asked to develop, based on literature study, parallel cases about temporary space use and temporary urban planning, feasible proposals that could be elaborated during the yearly integrated weeklong design workshop, jokerweek. As a result the existing parking building was evacuated for a whole week and transformed into real urban co-laboratory. An urban festival was hosted on the roof of the parking building at the end of the design week, including the organization of a fairground event with partners from the neighbourhood.
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Mass housing - Grands ensembles - Large living units, spring 2015
Guidance: Pieter Uyttenhove (responsible lecturer), Manten Devriendt.
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Between the two world wars new models for collective housing were developed based on strong government intervention, industrialized construction techniques, technocratic planning principles and a utopian belief in modernity, This happened in Germany, France, the Netherlands and other European countries. The advanced topic addresses the determinism of these 'grands ensembles' in Eastern and Western Europe before the fall of the Iron curtain, and the corresponding question of the 'makeability of society'. Four tracks of its problematization were discussed: 'autonomy', ‘economy', 'typology' and 'representation'. As a case study, the Soviet-Russian 'Micro rayons' in Riga were visited and discussed. Three guest speakers gave feedback: Jan van De Pavert, Carmen Popescu and Manten Devriendt, who also organized and escorted the trip to Riga. The results of the advanced topic were published as a book.