My doctorate at the University of Antwerp starts from the hypothesis that since the 2008 financial and economic crises, alternative ways of urban development took place, which resulted in several shifts in the development of housing projects.

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For Schumpeter (1954), an economic crisis is a moment for ‘creative destruction’ in which old parts of the economy are destroyed, thereby allowing the emergence of new forms. By looking at what emerges from a crisis, in relation to what is destroyed, shifts become apparent.

A crisis is a turbulent time and there is a danger that the innovation, developed in the crisis, will not be noticed and thus registered as such. Relating this to urban design entails that the knowledge, developed within alternative ways of urban development during the crisis, could be lost.

By means of case studies in European second tier cities, the goal of this PhD is to capture these shifts and indicate their influence on the development of housing projects. Two cases are already defined, them being Lyon and Manchester.



To investigate the shifts in themes that took place in these cities, the Multi-level Perspective (MlP) on technological transitions (Geels, 2016) is used. MlP is set up with three levels, the level of niche innovations, the level of the social technical regime and the third level, the socio-technical landscape.

At the level of niche innovations, a small network of actors supports novelties on the basis of expectations and visions. Some of these innovations influence the second level, the social technical regime. The socio-technical regime is ‘dynamically stable’. However, in different dimensions (policy, industry, culture, science, technology, markets) there are ongoing processes. Also from the third level, the socio-technical landscape, pressure can be put on the existing regime, by for example a financial-economic crisis. This opens up the regime and creates a ‘window of opportunity’ for niche innovations.

Taking advantage of a ‘window of opportunity’, a radical innovation (level of niche innovations) could break through. As a result shifts can occur in the socio-technical regime.


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mapping development projects in Manchester


The doctoral committee members are: Maarten van Acker and Tom Coppens (University of Antwerp), Rients Dijkstra (Delft University of Technology) and Zef Hemel (University of Amsterdam).