Themes & Tracks




PLANNING THEORY AND EDUCATION 1. Planning theory: conceptual challenges and planning evaluation

Co-chairs: Tore Sager; Alessandro Balducci; João Cabral

2. Planning education: building up spaces of dialogue for places of dignity

Co-chairs: Kristina Nillson; Andrea Frank; Artur Rosa Pires

URBAN DESIGN AND PUBLIC SPACES 3. Spaces of dialogue for active, networked and responsible citizenship

Co-chairs: Camilla Perrone; Roberto Rocco; Lia Vasconcelos

4. Urban design, public spaces and urban culture

Co-chairs: Ali Madanipour; Gabriella Esposito De Vita; Pedro George

5. Green infrastructures: fostering dialogue across scales and policies

Co-chairs: Anna M. Hersperger; Stephan Pauleit; Isabel Loupa Ramos

TERRITORY AND ITS SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DIMENSIONS 6. Territorial cohesion:  a multiscale approach

Co-chairs: Stefanie Dühr; Giancarlo Cotella; Eduarda Marques da Costa

7. Dialogues in diverse, inclusive, and multicultural cities

Co-chairs: Willem Buunk; Inês Sanchez de Madariaga; Isabel Raposo

8. Regional economics and scarce resources planning
Co-chairs: Michael Getzner; Pantelis Skayannis; João Mourato
9. Bridging gaps in transnational planning

Co-chairs: Tuna Tasan-Kok; Thomas Dillinger; Paulo Correia

EMERGENT LAND USES AND PRACTICES 10. Housing and urban rehabilitation and qualification for places of dignity

Co-chairs: Roelof Verhage; Ivan Tosics; Diogo Mateus

11. Healthy and liveable cities

Co-chairs: Tijana Dabovic; Pierre Laconte; Nuno Marques da Costa

12. Tourism, leisure  and genuine urban cultures

Co-chairs: Jarkko Saarinen; José Manuel Simões; Piotr Lorens

POLICIES AND STRATEGIES 13. Mobility policies, transport regulation and urban planning

Co-chairs: Enrica Papa; Xavier Desjardins; Fernando Nunes da Silva

14. Policies for smart and co-creative cities
Co-chairs: Francesco Pilla; Paulo Morgado
15. Law and planning under societal challenges

Co-chairs: Rachelle Alterman; Leonie Janssen-Jansen; Beatriz Condessa

16. Urban metabolism and territorial efficiency
Co-chairs: Mendel Giezen; Sara Cruz
THE FORTHCOMING CITY 17. Big data, open sources, generative tools
Co-chairs: Michele Campagna; Elisabete A. Silva; Paulo Silva
18. Unravelling complexity for planning
Co-chairs: Gert de Roo; Ward Rauws; Jorge Batista e Silva
19. Resilient and sustainable territories
Co-chairs: Richard Sliuzas; Adriana Galderisi; Teresa Cálix
20. Territories under pressure: disruptive events, shattered cities, collective memories
Co-chairs: Enrico Gualini; Adrianna Kupidura; Sofia Morgado
21. Urban futures: challenges and vision
Co-chairs: Peter Ache; Peter Naess; Davide Ponzini; Eduardo Castro


1. Planning theory: conceptual challenges and planning evaluation

When the goal is to create and design places of dignity, this should be reflected both in planning processes and in the substantive content of plans. Is there a process-product gap in planning that makes comprehensive evaluation difficult? Or do planners have instruments to align physical changes with the values strived for in the participative and dialogical planning process? Planning theorists need to analyse whether it is possible to design processes with space for dialogue as well as agonism. Can a European dimension of planning be carved out from the borderland of the two concepts?

Neoliberalism shifts the border between public and private space. In doing so, it tends to expand consumer space and narrow citizen space. However, dignity is not found in consumerism, but in a society whose institutions do not humiliate or repress people. How can planning theory contribute? The austerity policies and the increased inequalities associated with neoliberalism also shift the border between spaces of dialogue and agonism. How does this affect the creation of places of dignity? Can planning theory help to counteract the idea of second-class citizens in the political turmoil of Europe of today?

Several central concepts in the planning disciplines are notoriously hard to define (such as the public interest). The notion of a particular European dimension of planning is likely to pose new conceptual challenges. Is there a planning theory of the Global South? If yes, how does it contrast with ideas of what is typically European? It is an aim to get the masses out of poverty. Is it also everywhere an aim to let the masses live in democracy? Is there a trade-off to be made between the two ends? Does neoliberalism make things worse on both accounts? Nearly everything written on neoliberalism in planning theory is on the negative side, even if neoliberal ideas have been embraced by social-democratic governments as well as right-wing regimes. Does this mean that planning theorists are producing ideology? Should they?

The challenges for planning theory are also associated with the competence for integrating alternative and activist planning approaches. How can the concepts of common good and spatial justice be applied for understanding geographical variations and the role of space and place in planning processes? How can comparative planning theory contribute for an understanding of the role of a state increasingly engaged with the extended reproduction of capital through ‘productive’ consumption?

2. Planning education: building up spaces of dialogue for places of dignity

The recent years of economic decline and uncertainty, and growing migrant and refugee streams are leaving their mark in today’s society. Municipalities and public service provision are afflicted by government imposed austerity measures. Moreover, the often unexpected influx of considerable numbers of new inhabitants (migrants/refugees) in many European cities creates growing conflicts in land use planning, discontent of existing residents and often increased social segregation. Effects are touching both rural villages and sprawling metropolitan agglomerations alike and are becoming visible in many respects. The task of planning in such circumstances is extremely challenging. With scarce resources, political pressures and often limited time for decision-making and solution development, how can and should planners for example steer the creation of or protect truly public, safe open spaces with high quality amenities for all, and accessible and affordable housing? New strategies, practices and approaches will need to be explored and developed, and planning educators will have to prepare students for working in a dynamic, contested, and uncertain environment where actions need to be negotiated amongst affected stakeholder groups and their interests. How are educators integrating issues of space, dialogue and self-respect, pride, and respect into their teaching? Planning need to be able to develop innovative and locally responsive (economic) development strategies without however, losing sight of issues and opportunities provided by global societal challenges (healthy food, climate and environmental challenges, etc).

This track invites papers and presentations reporting on:

  • innovations in planning education, e.g., working collaboratively with communities, NGOs, vulnerable groups and practitioners;
  • cutting-edge, experimental pedagogies involving technology-assisted, interdisciplinary and/or international teaching aimed at preparing students for today’s and tomorrow’s planning challenges;
  • innovative planning modules, short courses, programs, particularly focusing on space/place, dialogue and dignity in a variety of contexts;
  • planning modules that prepare students to wider European and global planning challenges while keeping local interests and conditions in mind, i.e. modules that ”marry” local context-specific planning with global awareness and foster international and multicultural competencies;
  • planning modules that focus on innovative economic development strategies in the context of economic austerity / decline.


All authors and presenters are expected to take a critical, reflective stance relating their work to pedagogical and/or social & planning theories.

3. Spaces of dialogue for active, networked and responsible citizenship

Doreen Massey (2011) claimed space as the dimension of multiplicity: “If time is the dimension of sequence, then space is the space of contemporaneous existence. In that sense, it is the dimension of the social and therefore it is the dimension that poses the political question of how we are going to live together”.

Massey calls this ‘radical simultaneity’, in which stories, ongoing trajectories and multiple voices happen simultaneously. Space is, therefore, composed by relations, practices and interactions imbued with power.

Descriptions of types of space in terms of levels of interactions are frequent in literature, ranging from self-organisation to deliberative/participatory experiments, as well as contested practices and multiple uses, offering generous inputs to planning theory and practice. What emerges is that spaces, places and people need to be reciprocally interconnected through networking and responsible citizenship.

Massey’s concept of space challenges the simultaneity of multiple trajectories displayed in a variety of intertwined existences. It feeds increasing uncertainty about what we mean by 'places' and how we relate to them. At the same time, it triggers a deeper and broader reflection on how to foster spaces of dialogue that can enable contemporaneous co-existences, diversity and social citizenship.

Accordingly, issues like the right to the city, power imbalances, empowerment practices, do-it-yourself urbanism, urban insurgency, social and environmental sustainability and the idea of common goods focus on a certain range of socio-spatial and political issues contributing to enter the debate, feeding democracy.

In radical simultaneity, where some voices are much more powerful and arresting than others, the pursuit of socio-spatial justice becomes urgent.

4. Urban design, public spaces and urban culture

This track brings together the themes of urban design, public space, and urban culture. Papers are invited to explore the nature and the relationship between these themes, and any of their subthemes. The processes of shaping, managing, and inhabiting the urban space have a direct relationship with the political, economic and cultural conditions of cities. Theoretical, methodological and empirical papers are invited to discuss any aspect of this interface between spatial development processes and the urban conditions in Europe and elsewhere.

What are the relationships between urban design and urban and regional planning, and in what ways are they responding to the conditions of globalisation, economic austerity, social inequality, cultural diversity, and climate change? How can they be theoretically, methodologically and empirically enhanced to address these challenges? What is the relationship between these diverse demands on cities, and are they being given the attention they need? What are the current approaches to the public space in Europe and in what ways can these approaches be assessed? How can spatial design and development, and the articulation of urban spaces, reconcile the rich cultural heritage of European cities with their rapidly changing circumstances? How can the research in urban design meet the needs of the EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020 in terms of smart, sustainable and inclusive cities?

5. Green infrastructures: fostering dialogue across scales and policies

Green infrastructure principally refers to a multifunctional network of healthy ecosystems and serves the interests of both people and nature. We strongly believe that in the light of the implementation of the EU green infrastructure strategy (European Commission 2013) this is a relevant topic to be discussed amongst the European Planning community at the AESOP conference in Lisbon 2017 in order to foster the development of approaches and tools towards its implementation.
It is widely acknowledged in academia and practice in Europe and beyond that green infrastructure should be designed and managed as a multifunctional resource capable of delivering a wide range of benefits to humans and ecosystems, such as flood control, climate mitigation, biodiversity conservation, production of renewable energy, enhancing identity, cultural values and resilience etc. (see e.g. the project Green Surge in the 7th Framework program). Building blocks of green infrastructure are natural and semi natural areas, features and green spaces ranging from large wilderness areas to green roofs in urban environments. Green infrastructure is thus connected to many policy domains such as agriculture, forestry, nature, water, transport, and disaster prevention. Spatial planning as a part of public policy can provide an overall framework and individual methods and tools required for a successful implementation and maintenance of a green infrastructure from local to EU-scales. Spatial planning seems best suited to ensure the necessary coordination across spatial scales and policy sectors, to facilitate the adaption of spatial concepts to real landscapes and to include the relevant actors.
Thus a session on green infrastructure provides a great opportunity to critically discuss current research and praxis on the planning and implementation of green infrastructure and explore ideas of how to progress on these issues. The session will particularly explore green infrastructure planning from rural to peri-urban and urban areas. Following, a preliminary list of potential questions and issues to be explored in a session:

  •  What is the status of green infrastructure planning and implementation in Europe? What are achievements and good practice? Where are the shortcomings?
  • How can spatial concepts for green infrastructure be developed and operationalized in the context of spatial planning from European to local scale?
  • How can relevant sectoral planning in e.g. regarding flood management, climate change and biodiversity and cultural heritage conservation be integrated into an overall green infrastructure strategy to maximize to provision of ecosystem services?
  • Which governance regimes are suited to ensure that green infrastructure, once in place, can persist long-term?
  • How can the maintenance of green infrastructure be financed benefitting from the integration of sectoral policies?
  • How do people perceive and value green infrastructure and what do they expect from green infrastructure planning?

6. Territorial cohesion:  a multiscale approach

The objective of territorial cohesion has since the adoption of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty set the agenda for policies and activities concerned with ‘spatial coordination’. Territorial cohesion has effectively replaced the terminology of ‘spatial planning’ and ‘spatial development’ in the EU’s discourse. However, at the core of territorial cohesion and European spatial planning lie the same concerns, namely in relation to achieving spatial balance, sustainable development, and socio-economic wellbeing. A better coordination of activities across spatially-relevant policy sectors, across different levels of governance, and across administrative, institutional and cultural boundaries is considered important for territorial cohesion, with spatial planning offering a useful approach to pursue such objectives.

Yet, and in spite of much debate about possible interpretations and applications, the objective of territorial cohesion remains somewhat elusive. Many questions remain over how spatial coordination might best be achieved in different contexts and through which instruments. While attempts have been made to give ‘territorial cohesion’ a more central role in the EU Cohesion Policy 2014-2020, next to the longstanding objectives of economic and social cohesion, the policy is arguably not yet an integrated ‘territorial cohesion policy’ but maintains a largely thematic focus in pursuit of the EU’s competitiveness and employment agenda. Territorial cohesion is, however, being pursued through experimental initiatives to promote multilevel and multisector governance solutions in transnational spaces (e.g. macro-regional strategies) as well as in regional and urban contexts (e.g. ITI’s).

While the focus on this track is on territorial cohesion, papers are also invited that discuss questions of interest to the AESOP Thematic Group on ‘Transboundary spaces, policy diffusion and planning cultures’ more generally. Topics that could be addressed in this track, among others, are: how the objective of territorial cohesion is being defined and pursued in different contexts, through different policies and across different spaces; the effects of economic or political crises on territorial cohesion; how territorial cooperation initiatives seek to achieve territorial cohesion across collaborative spaces and which (spatial) outcomes are envisaged or have already been achieved; and how territorial cohesion is being pursued through EU Cohesion Policy (or other EU sectoral policies) in different spaces and places and which lessons can be learned from this for the future orientation of EU policies.

7. Dialogues in diverse, inclusive, and multicultural cities

The track welcomes papers that offer case studies, research methods and theoretical approaches that reflect, from a variety of perspectives, on dialogues in planning on inclusive and multicultural cities. European cities are shaped in era of rapid growth and urbanisation post WWII, now face vast challenges of major social, economic, political and migratory change. Diversity within cities calls for cohesion, as promoted by the ECTP ‘New Athens Charter’ for inclusive and just cities, including gender dimensions. As there is great diversity between cities, there is diversity in approaches to deal with these complex challenges. Diversity in size, landscape, social structure, religion and wealth, and diversity in political culture, governance and adoption of technology produces a variety of strategies. The track wishes to focus on the contribution of urban policies and planning on local and regional dialogue between stakeholders with different interests, different rationalities, different cultures (both traditional and alternative), and different moral points of view. The track also welcomes papers on the contribution of planning to national and transnational dialogues, as well as contribution to the discourse on values and ethics in planning and on justice.

8. Regional economics and scarce resources planning

In times of globalization, dominance of financial markets, European integration, and neo-liberal policy frameworks and approaches – to name just a few fashionable buzz-words of current economic and political development – the demand for material and immaterial resources grows and reveals the issue of their scarcity, that in turn raises the question of allocation. Some scholars think that a new focus on regional economies, networks and structures is necessary to overcome political and economic gridlocks. However, regional economies and regional economic policies are truly embedded in national and international environments; thus the leeway of regional policies seems to be limited. Regional planning and regional economic policies can, nevertheless, contribute to decisions on how scarce resources are used regionally.

The co-chairs welcome papers and case studies in this area. Track papers could specifically focus on the following issues:

  • Is scarcity a real problem or is it created because of the way modern life is structured?
  • Government and governance for the design and implementation of regional economic policies. Is there space for a regional governance of scarce resources?
  • Contribution of planning and regional economics to an efficient, effective, and equitable management of scarce resources.
  • Valuation of scarce regional resources (e.g. human capital, infrastructure, land, ecological resources) from different methodological perspectives (qualitative and quantitative). - Empirical, methodological or theoretical approaches to regional planning and/or regional economics with respect to scarce regional resources.
  • Presentation of empirical urban and regional development projects and/or policies in relation to facing problems related to the management of space in the current context of strategic dilemmas.

9. Bridging gaps in transnational planning

While hyperactivity of global financial capital (Sassen, 1994) seems to continue in full-speed, looking for profitable locations across the borders, some recent geo-political and economic trends require new discussions in the field of transnational spatial governance and planning. ‘Borderless world’ has become quite a shadowy concept for one, due to increasing terror threats and attacks across the globe and increasing cross-border mobility triggered by wars, and other forms of social or political unrest. These fears have fuelled a new spate of wall-building along the borders around the globe even within the EU. Another interesting trend is fuelled by Brexit, with unclear consequences of UK’s leaving the EU, which may also influence transnational regulations of spatial governance and planning. In relation to these trends, rules of supranational trade agreements may change, causing new rescaling tendencies of governance. There are obviously some gaps in theory not only in understanding how these new trends will shape new political, economic and spatial relations in Europe and elsewhere, but also in discussing their consequences for transnational spatial governance and planning.

Aiming to capture these new trends and their long and short term impacts, this track on “Bridging gaps in transnational planning” will put together planning scholars who will bring fresh blood to the traditional transnational planning field with rich case studies, empirical evidence and conceptual frameworks to close the gap. Potential themes of interest might include, but are not limited to:

  • New forms of transnational and cross-border cooperation and spatial planning approaches that may promote inclusiveness, cohesion and integration in cross-border regions;
  • Empirical and/or comparative studies that tackle new tendencies in governance of cross-border regions;
  • Case studies that examine the challenges created by the changing transnational political economic landscape;
  • Conceptualisations of transnational spatial governance and planning;
  • Papers that link changing forms of rescaling governance and changing political economic landscape of Europe.

10. Housing and urban rehabilitation and qualification for places of dignity

The rehabilitation of urban areas in order to improve living conditions is a central concern of urban policies. Over the years, the objectives of urban rehabilitation have extended from the improvement of the quality of the dwellings, via the improvement of the quality of buildings, public space and facilities, to the improvement of “quality of life” in the broadest sense, including notions of socio-economic development, environmental wellbeing, and social cohesion.

Since the 1990s, under the influence of the retreat of the welfare state, and of cuts in public spending, urban rehabilitation projects have become more and more dependent on private investment. Public interventions have become indirect, focussing on incentivising private investment in deprived areas.

In the current situation, after the Great Financial Crisis, this approach to urban rehabilitation is challenged. Private investors have become more selective in their investment decisions, and more reluctant to invest in the rehabilitation of deprived areas. As the public budgets are also decreasing, new ways have to be found to rehabilitate those areas.

In this context, participative practices, and the stimulation of citizen initiatives in order to improve living conditions are considered as innovative ways to appraoch urban rehabilitation. But what are the capacities of such approaches to actually regenerate deprived areas? How to mobilise citizens to participate actively in the improvement of their neigbourhoods? What kind of economic model to invent in order to translate citizen involvement into investment? What is the most appropriate role of the public sector in this context?

The aim of the track is to explore these and related questions on the relation between urban rehabilitation, citizen initiatives, private investment, and public sector activities. The track would welcome papers focusing on theoretical reflections, and applied analyses of urban policies and projects dealing with these issues.

11. Healthy and liveable cities

The achievement of healthy and liveable cities is related to the development of the best practices not only on the health promotion, but also on the promotion of more inclusive cities. Urban problems such as: social and economic exclusion, poor air quality, traffic congestion, waste production, industrial emissions etc. faced by elected officials and urban managers are marked by strong social and territorial disparities as result of a multidimensional set of factors. In this context, public health policy changed from a focus on the disease to a more holistic and, at same time, territorialized perspective.
Since 1986, when the World Health Organization launched the Healthy Cities movement, policy and planning for healthy cities was centred on urban poverty, inclusion, participatory governance, as well as on social, economic and environment determinants of health.

In the more recent period, the increasing concern about creating healthier and more liveable cities in the political agenda is grounded on a sense of urgency and an ever more participative intervention and demands of different stakeholders. Policy actions and spatial interventions in areas like urban mobility, climate change, urban regeneration, resource use, health care, waste management, food systems, social inclusion or economic development, among others, are efforts that generally contribute to some effective improvements. EU is strongly supporting these actions and initiatives, especially integrative and innovative solutions in urban planning, technology, food systems and transportation through different formal and informal agreements, institutions and projects funding. However, the issue is also of contextual nature and strongly rooted in the values of particular city dwellers and economic actors and their capacity to change mind-sets and behaviour regarding urban production, consumption and living in general. It is believed that contextualising and building a long-term common purpose and co-responsibility among different stakeholders in pluralistic arenas will enable evolution of incremental improvements to a systematic change. In this aspect, the Track strongly relates to the Congress’ theme: Spaces of Dialog for Places of Dignity: Fostering the European Dimension of Planning.

Finally, we encourage the presentation of papers focused on the discussion and presentation of initiatives and best practices for promoting and improving health and livability in our cities. We would also like to invite academics and practitioners to share critical and constructive, as well as normative and contextual perspectives about the extent of their possible replicability.

12. Tourism, leisure  and genuine urban cultures

In the last 50 years, tourism has had a massified growth at an average annual growth rate of 6.5%. As shown by several authors, this was possible due to a combination of numerous factors, that range from the political, economic and social reasons (consecutive and considerable gains in free time among the general population; increasing purchase power of the population of several economic strata, growing internationalization and globalization of economies) to the technological ones (increase in mobility, generalize use of ICT). Worth mentioning are also factors inherent to the tourist sector (development of tourist offer, increment of competitive production formulae, selling and promotion of tourist real estate developments and services, growing internationalization of a multitude of heritage resources in value chains of tourist products).
Tourism is presently one of the driving activities of the world economy and a key driver and facilitator of globalization. Economically speaking, the tourist sector has a total annual turnover of 1.2 billion international tourists, being responsible for 9% of the world gross product and employment, and 6% of the world exports.
The tourist market is global and characterized by the increase, diversification and innovation of offers and segmentation of demand. The tourist experience tends to gain centrality in the moment of decision making considering the tourist products and destinations. However, cities continue to be the foci of major tourist attractiveness, reinforced by the growth of low-cost airlines. Cities are also the stage of touristification processes with some meeting rehabilitation and enhancement of material and immaterial heritages and local identities, whereas others stress the loss of character of places and repeat the standardizing prescriptions of the global economy.

13. Mobility policies, transport regulation and urban planning

Human rights movement theorised that the concept of dignity could be used as a lens through which to explore the relationship the well-being status of individuals and communities and the human rights achievements or failures of the societies in which they live.

This session track aims at applying this rights-based approach, directed to protecting human rights, to the transport field. Its elements include participation, accountability, non-discrimination, empowerment and linkage to the European and international standards. Nowadays, transport systems and urban structures play an even greater role in providing accessibility to opportunities like public services, social facilities and jobs. So, this session track focuses on the role of accessibility planning, transport equity and justice to contribute to the creation of ‘spaces for dialogue for places of dignity’.

The track will also accept paper of the following topics: governance and decision-making processes in transport planning and policy, cultural and social issues in transport, national, regional and local transport planning and policy, the role of new technology in transport, sustainable accessibility planning, land use and transport planning and policy, active transport, transport justice, complexity and mega-projects, transition studies for mobility.

14. Policies for smart and co-creative cities

As the world is becoming more urbanized, cities act as magnetic forces, attracting talent, knowledge, creativity and businesses. More than countries, cities will have a leadership role shaping the future and facing relevant challenges.

Besides being spaces of growth, innovation and knowledge, many cities presents a legacy of inadequate infrastructures (transport, sewers, electricity and water supply) and under-investments on social policies to face social exclusion, poverty, gender inequality, ageing, and a lack of public participation, public health and education). Besides traditional problems, new problems are emerging related to global greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, sea level rise and coastal pressure, recycling, domestic garbage, food supply, renewal energy, energy-inefficient buildings). Those are just some of the challenges that cities across the globe are facing today in a context of economical and financial crisis.

Technology plays an increasingly role in our lives. From the ubiquity of smartphones to the world of wearables, nowadays almost everything and everyone is connected. It’s a wired world where every single actor, from global companies to a person, are a main data source, observatories in real time of our lives, our houses, our cities, our economy, our quality of live (Towsend, 2013).

Smart cities are data driven; the foundation of any Smart city project (1spatial, 2016, in depends on geospatial data, not only for knowing and monitor the needs of the citizens, but also to foresee alternative futures, prepared to face future challenges. Today, cities suddenly have access to big data, but the challenge is to transform this big data in useful data (eg. Intelligence), highlighting the role of advanced geographical models to understand cities in a context of system of networks and flows (Batty, 2013).

For many cities, smart cities model (Smart cities final report, 2007 In has been the answer. This means to build a city through a combination of smart economy, smart mobility, smart environment, smart people, smart living and smart governance, being technology, cooperation and competition the driving forces of a better future. City administrations, utility companies along with ITC firms are partnering to explore ways for cities to grow smarter. Along with this technological revolution we are also witnessing a shift in how we should be planning and manage a city.

How to overcome the referred issues, be attractive and still manage inclusion and sustainable growth, but with less resources? In particular, this session seeks papers that engage with the planning and lived realities of Smart Cities, Big Data, IoT, M2M, VGI and PPGIS in Europe.

15. Law and planning under societal challenges

Almost all countries have laws, regulations and government institutions related to planning and building controls. Planning laws often also enable intervention in property rights – such as expropriation and land sharing – and may entail fiscal aspects (levies, fees, negotiated value sharing). These issues range from procedural matters - processes that affect quality of governance, to substantive policies and instruments that may enable the creation of spaces and shape land use (for better or worse).
In times of increasing uncertainty, European (dis)integration, neo-liberal economic approaches, and social and demographic changes, a new focus on innovative processes and practices applied to planning of territories, regions and cities is needed. These are all very critical questions regarding the interplay between Law, spatial planning and property rights. Can the law and planning institutions meet the challenges posed by inclusiveness and multiculturalism, promoting flexible planning approaches and collective engagement? How do they affect planning laws geared to handle distributive justice issues within cities, countries, and across borders?
This track invites research proposal on any topic that relates to planning laws and land policy, whether directly or indirectly. An indication of the scope of the track can be seen from the following list of areas:

  •  Statutory (regulatory) planning systems and instruments: How well can they accommodate emerging economic, socio-demographic and environmental realities?
  • Regulatory land use instruments: local statutory plans, zoning, building permits, agreements with developers, “exactions” or “planning gain”, regulation of open space and natural resources, regulations of already-built environments and other;
  • Public property rights / private property rights / private property responsibilities: tensions between them, land for public services, customary collective / private rights, expropriation, compensation, land readjustment, taxation of land values, transfer or development rights;
  • Governance structures and procedures: How does planning law structure the relationships between central governmental control, local government, markets, and non-governmental organizations?
  • How does the law frame public participation and involvement, conflict management and dispute resolution? •Contribution of planning law to an efficient and equitable management of land and ecological resources; •Non-compliance with planning laws: issues of illegal, “informal” “irregular” development – processes and enforcement. •Innovations, methodologies and advances in planning legislation in its various territorial, regional, metropolitan and urban scales.
  • Systematization of processes and practices applied to the planning of territories, regions and cities. Questioning and analyzing experiences and processes and innovative management practices in territorial planning at different scales.
  • Analysis and proposal of territorial, regional, urban, fiscal and tax, policy instruments applied to the planning, management and public administration at various federal levels. Contributions may focus on theory or investigate particular issues, focusing either on a particular country or cross-nationally. Since legal and planning systems vary greatly from country to country, authors should make the legal structures and procedures as transparent as possible. To be considered for this track, the author needs to point out some relationship with the underlying legal framework

Contributions may focus on theory or investigate particular issues, focusing either on a particular country or cross-nationally. Since legal and planning systems vary greatly from country to country, authors should make the legal structures and procedures as transparent as possible. To be considered for this track, the author needs to point out some relationship with the underlying legal framework.

16. Urban metabolism and territorial efficiency

Cities have been growing not only in size and density, but have also been evolving towards more complex systems. Dramatic changes in the functioning of urban systems – referring to the physical environment, the patterns of flows, and type of practices – have had a strong impact on the structure and functioning of socio-ecological systems and the services they provide. There is an urgent need for a better understanding of the consequences of these changes on the environmental, spatial and social sustainability.
One of the concepts that can help planners towards this better understanding is urban metabolism. Urban metabolism can be defined as the processing of inflows and outflows of resources and energy within the city. These flows are determined by a combination of (1) the physical needs of a city and its infrastructure, (2) the opportunities and limitations that the natural and geo-physical environment poses to the provision of these needs, and (3) the socio-economic and political processes and power structures within the city. Understanding these conditions determining both supply and demand of resources is crucial to achieve more efficient and sustainable urban systems. Issues, such as uncertainty, diversity and multiplicity are, undoubtedly, aspects that strongly characterize our societies and communities and therefore should be taken into consideration when envisioning territorial efficiency through an urban metabolism perspective.  
Despite all the research and debate around issues of climate change, natural resource management and sustainability in general, there is still a knowledge gap on planning responses to the complexity of settings, problems and challenges urban systems face. In addition, different issues reflecting contemporary and future societal challenges, such as, social justice, migration, economic crises and geo-political developments, all pose new shocks to these systems and are topics that need to be addressed. Therefore, some key issues we would like to explore in this track are:

  • The potential of the concept of urban metabolism; the advantages and limitations/shortcomings of this approach, as well as ways of overcoming these limitations? Understand how this integrative concept can contribute to a more systemic approach in urban management and planning?
  • What are the innovative instruments (tools and methods) developed to study urban metabolism, and how they can be articulated and contribute to spatial and environmental planning? And more general, how can we achieve a more comprehensive and integrative knowledge of the city’s functioning in all its dimensions and components?
  • How does the objectives of territorial efficiency and environmental justice come together, and what are the policies and strategies needed? How do local people and their knowledge contribute to environmental justice challenges, and what is their role in making spaces of dialog?
  • How can we learn from new practices and experiences through bottom-up approaches to increase environmental efficiency?


This track aims to address these issues in accepting theoretically grounded papers of international research and experience, exploring the limits, as well as, the potential of urban metabolism and territorial efficiency in spatial planning.

17. Big data, open sources, generative tools

Advances in information technology are rapidly accelerating and the spectrum of digital data resources for spatial planning and design is constantly growing due to the flourishing of real-time open Big Data sources. In the present context of uncertainty and rapid change, the methods and general approaches to information communication and analysis need constant innovation for taking advantage of the potential for putting knowledge into action. Global and local environmental and societal challenges require the ability to generate real-time deeper insights on territorial conditions and dynamics, to generate alternative solutions to guide evolution, to understand the implication and make decisions based on consensus.

To what extent can we take advantage of this Big Data avalanche to address these challenges? To what extent do we need to revise traditional methods and tools to elicit useful knowledge by new data sources? To what extent the use of digital method and tools can help to keep track of planning and design processes for more democratic and responsible decision-making? To what extent those data can contribute to get better insight on the planning and design process itself?

Academic and practitioners are invited to share their findings and discuss the challenges on the use of Big data, open sources, generative tools in territorial representation, dynamics analysis, evaluation, design, impact assessment, and decision-making. Such themes as spatial data infrastructures (SDI), volunteered and social geographic information (VGI and SMGI), big data representation and visualization, spatial analysis and environmental modelling, generative design methods and tools, Planning Support Systems (PSS), and Geodesign.

The emphasis will be therefore broad, covering methodologies, methods, and approaches but fully engaging in the present day challenges and future ways forward.

A selection of papers presented in this track may be invited for publication in a special issue of an international journal.

18. Unravelling complexity for planning

This track explores how interactions between the complexity sciences and the planning discipline can result in better understandings of and productive strategies for urban planning in a world of change.

Cities and urban regions across the globe face a series of pressures and challenges. One can think of global warming, processes of globalization, migration flows, technological innovations, geopolitical shifts, etc. A key question for spatial planners and governance experts is how to support cities and regions in remaining vital places under these conditions. In other words, how to boost quality of life, reduce social inequalities, support urban developments and transformations, and balance environmental sustainability and economic development in a fuzzy, dynamic world that includes both foreseen and unforeseen changes.

Introducing concepts such as self-organization, coevolution and bifurcation, the complexity sciences can help to clarify the interdependent, recursive and adaptive nature of processes underlying spatial transformations. Therefore, this track is about exploring ways to unwrap / disentangle / decode the 'complexity' of spatial systems and networks. Not with the aim of simplifying complexity, but with the ambition to identify the opportunities and limitations of a complexity perspective for the discipline of urban planning. This can include:

  • Alternative conceptualization of neighbourhoods, cities and regions that allow planners to gasp the dynamic patterns of change.
  • Advanced models that strengthen our understanding of, for instance, spontaneous pattern formations, processes of path-dependency and transition trajectories.
  • New institutional designs which are time-sensitive and allow actor-coalitions to deal with a plurality of perspectives and non-linear routes of development.

Hence, the track ‘Unravelling complexity for planning’ explores the conditions under which ‘spaces of dialogue’ and decision making emerge, alter and disperse. It invites academics and professionals to rethink their tools and strategies in order to promote better places, respecting the dignity of life, in a context of change, interdependency and uncertainty.

19. Resilient and sustainable territories

The increasing frequency and severity of natural and human-induced disasters, often linked to extreme weather events, causes considerable losses and damages in cities and regions worldwide. Urbanization trends and planning processes oriented to the development and management of human settlement systems of various sizes and forms generate multiple environmental concerns - from the degradation and fragmentation of natural ecosystems to the more and more frequent climate-related hazards – and may drive increased exposure of human settlements to a local mix of hazard factors within a short time span. Moreover, cities all over the world are more and more often threatened by significant social pressures related to poverty, conflicts or to increased migration flows and temporary human settlements, such as refugee camps. Disaster risk reduction (DRR) and the building of resilient communities and settlement systems feature strongly in international fora such as Rio+20, the Sustainable Development Goals and UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda. The on-going process towards the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 clearly identifies the decisive importance and role of land use and spatial planning in making resilient and less vulnerable territories and communities in combatting current and future natural, technological, na-tech, socio-economic and socio-technical hazards.

But how can planning contribute to realization of these agendas, particularly at sub-national level?

Land use and urban planning are more and more frequently identified as key non-structural risk mitigation measures to avoid exposure in most hazardous zones and to reduce exposure and vulnerability in already built areas. Even so, risk reduction, climate adaptation are often still addressed through sectoral approaches and tools, with limited integration into land use and urban planning processes. Moreover, in many countries the response to the more frequent disasters is still mostly reactive rather than proactive.

This track addresses ways and means to more effectively integrate DRR and Climate Adaptation through urban and territorial planning and to promote urban regeneration strategies contributing to fairer policies of welfare and hospitality. In line with the conference theme, we encourage contributions that engage with collaborative and proactive approaches as well as with adaptive planning practices, capable to reduce and manage current and emerging risks, through multi-stakeholder engagement and dialogue. We welcome papers of a theoretical, methodological or an applied nature focused on the multidimensional concepts of the resilience and sustainability of territories in the face of environmental and social challenges focusing, above all, on natural and technological risks. Moreover, as the dissemination of risk information through education is a crucial issue in the implementation of the Sendai Framework, we also are seeking contributions that discuss innovations in planning education related to DRR and/or sustainability. Deliberations around social justice in planning, which includes the topics of integration and social cohesion, for improving cities’ resilience in the face of current and future environmental and social challenges, are also encouraged.

20. Territories under pressure: disruptive events, shattered cities, collective memories

We live in times of political, socio-economic, and environmental uncertainty in which radical pluralism appears to challenge established socio-spatial orders. In societies of ‘liquid modernity’, collective belonging is expressed through a variety of processes of territorial identification and spatial appropriation, by which places of collective livelihood, of identity, of memory are constituted. Identification with the cultural heritage and memory of places in the territories of everyday urban life is key to personal, social and cultural identity, and the free expression and coexistence of such forms of identification are essential for a polis which dwells upon diversity.

The impact of current societal changes – multiculturalism, hypermobility, migration – appears however to affect more and more negatively their political perception. Socio-cultural diversity and mobility – once positive connotations of ‘multicultural’ citizenship – are increasingly perceived as threats as they highlight allegedly irreconcilable contradictions between contrasting spatial claims.

This reflects tensions which are deeply inscribed in the spatiality of social relations.While territorial belonging is increasingly relativized as a principle of integration, new spatial practices create new social divides. Tensions and contradictions in social and economic development determine spatial cleavages which challenge the sense of collective belonging: creating new spaces ‘at the margin’, but also creating margins within the very social fabric of the city.

In the landscape of ‘neoliberalized’ urban development, effects in terms of accessing health, education and other social services and of benefitting of full citizenship rights are reflected in a sense of spatial non-belonging which becomes a matter of dispute and contestation.

Under conditions in which state action and regulation is often incapable of equitably accounting for this diversity of claims, spatial and symbolic orders become openly contested. While contestation bears potentials for improving democratic participation and political integration, hegemonic reactions to urban contestation often result into new forms of inequality. The resulting shifts in political climate may even create less democratic landscapes which are less open towards differences. Thus, all too often,the ‘politics of identity’ turns into an ideological framework for manipulatory and exclusionary spatial practices, often resulting in the marginalization of social, cultural or ethnic groups. Ideologies of identity, selective austerity practices, and discourses of fear result in restrictions of active citizenship and often produce effects of segregation and/or exclusion which adversely affect the pluralism of urban social life.

Spatial identities, paradoxically, become divisive, and places of memory hard to share. And yet, the capacity to combine these values with recognition of diversity is essential for a progressive and equal city. The track invites to deal consciously with the manifold manifestations of these challenges, and to explore potentials for progressive responses through creative experimentation and social innovation in the practices of spatial planning, urban design and city management.

21. Urban futures: challenges and vision

"I've seen things ... you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate ... All those moments will be lost, in time, like tears in rain. Time to die."

In Bladerunner (Scott, 1982) replicant Roy paints in his soliloquy horizons no human has seen. LA 2019 is the setting for the cyber-punk movie, posing questions regarding citizenship, environment, technology, power, and democracy. The city is a gigantic dystopian machine.

2019 is close, just two years from the AESOP 2017 conference: where are the urban beams glittering in the future?

We invite papers to a track, which as a 'laboratory' tries to present experiments, either intellectual or practical, sketching out broad utopian views or developing concrete utopias (Bloch, 1986). Spatial horizons are not specified. Time horizons should reach far, helping us to escape the boxes of actual debate.

The track aims at fostering new ideas and ways of understanding urban futures. We encourage considering the possible evolutions of environmental, technological, political, social variables or conditions in the very long term. Scenarios can include, but are not limited to:

  • the impact of radical climate change and radical mitigation strategies,
  • pervasiveness of smart technologies and security measures,
  • dismantling of statehood,
  • radical modifications in current geopolitical order,
  • massive migrations,
  • decrease of international and intra-national inequalities,
  • capacity to improve global national and regional governance,
  • capacity to control the big financial powers,
  • new urban structures favoring human interaction, or else.

Papers should be submitted to the track, approaching perspectives on above outlined themes or other relevant ones. We would like to hear from you, what the important relations and conditions that affect people and places in the future are and how we could react to this, counteracting problematic or enhancing positive developments, but in all cases dealing with “unknowable novelty”.

The format of the track will be different, too. Together we will work during the track sessions on new horizons, which shall also be sketched out in experimental forms of interaction. Inspired by Harvey (2012, X) and Lefevbre, the track invites you to envision “an alternative urban life that is less alienated, more meaningful and playful but … conflictual and dialectical, open to becoming, to encounters (both fearful and pleasurable), and to the perpetual pursuit of the unknowable novelty”.

Bloch, E. (1986) The Priciple of Hope, Cambridge Ma.: MIT Press [original Das Prinzip Hoffnung, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1959].

Harvey, D. (2012). Rebel cities: from the right to the city to the urban revolution, London: Verso.

Scott, R. (1982), Blade Runner, USA: Warner Bros (film, 117 min).