AAR5210 - Current Challenges in Urban Practice


Examination arrangement

Examination arrangement: Assignment
Grade: Letters

Evaluation form Weighting Duration Examination aids Grade deviation
Assignment 100/100

Course content

This course introduces and critically examines theories, concepts and understandings relating to current challenges in urban planning and development. It begins with an introduction to the Urban Ecological Planning approach and looks at how complex urban issues related to housing, land, infrastructure and services can be dealt with in rapidly changing social, cultural, environmental and political contexts. The course focuses on the complex interdependence between people, institutions, and the built environment in pursuit of equity, efficiency and sustainability. It stresses an integrated approach to strategic spatial change with a specific focus on participatory, inclusive and developmental planning practice, taking into consideration the formal-informal dichotomy of contemporary cities. Different theories of urban planning and development, together with case studies from both the developing and developed countries will be introduced and discussed throughout the course.

This course will explore two current critical issues for urban practitioners - Infrastructure and HLP (Housing Land and Property).

Infrastructure: This part of the course will deal with the implications of informality and poverty for access to basic infrastructure for urban communities. Various issues of access, legality and affordability will be explored and case studies of community based infrastructure provision and off grid solutions will be presented for the students.

HLP: This part of the course will offer an insight into issues concerning shelter, access to land and rights to land and tenure for marginalised communities in urban areas and displaced/affected persons in situations of disaster and conflict. The course will deal with the evolution of theoretical positions on housing and shelter with a special focus on the strategic role of housing in recovery and securing of livelihoods.

The course will examine various urban contexts where the right to land and housing is contested and the implications this has for shelter provision, both in an urban development and emergency perspective. Issues of the formal-informal linkages in the access to land and housing, the clientalistic relationships that skew the fair distribution of resources and the informal land delivery processes that fill the gaps of service delivery in the dominant practice of urban governance will also be explored.

Learning outcome

Knowledge: The candidate will have an overview over current urban challenges and how they play out in rapidly changing social, cultural, environmental and political contexts.

Skills: The candidate will be able to apply a theoretical framework for understanding and critically analysing urban development interventions, both bottom-up and top-down.

General competency: An understanding of the complex interrelationships between people, institutions, and the built environment in the context of urban development and upgrading.

Learning methods and activities

This course primarily engages group work around real case studies. Groups engage in role play, exploring real examples from differing perspectives, and learn – and critique – real outcomes.
Concentrated workshops with lectures and group colloquiums.

Further on evaluation

You can register for a re-scheduled examination in the next exam period

Specific conditions

Admission to a programme of study is required:
Architecture (MAAR)
Architecture (MAAR2)
Miscellaneous Courses (ABDIV)
Physical Planning (MFYSPL)
Sustainable Architecture (MSSUSARC)
Urban Ecological Planning (MSA1)

Required previous knowledge

The course has to be taken together with AAR 4525 Urban Informality Project and AAR 4820 Methods and Reflections.

Course materials

Indicative readings include:
Altrock, U. (2012) Conceptualising Informality: Some Thoughts on the Way towards Generalisation. In McFarlane, C., and Waibel, M. (Eds.) Urban Informalities: Reflections on the Formal and Informal. Routledge. Chapter 9, pp 171-189.
Bredenoord, J. and van Lindert, P. (2009) Pro-poor housing policies: Rethinking the potential of assisted self-help housing. Habitat International 34, pp 278-287.
Hamdi, N. (2010) The Placemaker’s Guide to Building Community, London: Earthscan.
Hasan, A. (2008) Financing the sanitation programme of the Orangi Pilot Project–Research and Training Institute in Pakistan. Environment and Urbanization 20(1), pp 109-119.
Kaika, M. (2017) ‘Don’t call me resilient again!’: the New Urban Agenda as immunology … or … what happens when communities refuse to be vaccinated with ‘smart cities’ and indicators. Environment and Urbanization, 29(1), pp 89-102.
McGranahan, G. And Satterthwaite, D. (2003) Environmental health or ecological sustainability? Reconciling the brown and green agendas in urban development. In Zetter, R. And Whites R. (Eds.) Planning in Cities: Sustainability and growth in the developing world. Practical Action Publisher. Chapter 3, pp 43-57.
Moser, C. (1998) The Asset vulnerability framework: Reassessing Urban Poverty Reduction Strategies. World Development 26 (1), pp 1-19.
Payne, G., Piaskowy, A., and Kuritz, L (2014) Land Tenure in Urban Environments. Issue Brief, USAID.
Rakodi, C. (2004) Urban Politics: Exclusion or Empowerment? In Devas, N. (Ed.) Urban Governance, Voice and Poverty in the Developing World. Earthscan Publications Ltd. Chapter 5, pp 69-94.
Rakodi, C. (2002) A Livelihoods Approach - Conceptual Issues and Definitions. In Rakodi, C. and Lloyd-Jones, T (Eds.) Urban Livelihoods: A People-centred Approach to Reducing Poverty. Earthscan, London. Chapter 1, pp 3-11.


Detailed timetable


Examination arrangement: Assignment

Term Statuskode Evaluation form Weighting Examination aids Date Time Room *
Autumn ORD Assignment 100/100
  • * The location (room) for a written examination is published 3 days before examination date.
If more than one room is listed, you will find your room at Studentweb.