TU Delft students complete master theses on BOLD Cities subjects

July 2018 marked the first generation of master theses on BOLD at the Faculty of Architecture & the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology. Inspired by the promise of data-driven approaches, students researched the possibilities offered by BOLD for analysing and evaluating the impact of the built environment on urban issues: 

Nynke Wertenbroek measured the spillover effects of urban icons: the development of urban icons has become a popular strategy for municipalities to reach envisioned spillover effects, e.g. by boosting the urban image or by functioning as a catalyst in the regeneration of an urban area. These iconic developments are not rarely associated with high public investments, which often tend to be based on ambiguous assumptions and ill-defined objectives. To measure the real spillover effects at a high spatiotemporal resolution, Nynke developed an impact assessment methodology blueprint consisting of three consecutive steps:

(1) The integration of evaluation in the building process cycle,
(2) the development of a big data-based project evaluation methodology, and
(3) the establishment of a data-driven urban planning practice.

The results from the measurements can be applied to justify previous investments and to substantiate investment decisions.The implementation feasibility of the blueprint is potentially obstructed by the methodological implications, consisting of the high required investments and the culture shift in the urban planning practice that the methodology implies. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the methodology may be negatively affected by a limitation of applicable data sources, as a result of issues regarding data reliability, privacy or ethical concerns.In order to effectively measure the spillover effects of urban icons, municipalities should initiate a culture shift towards an approach in which research and urban planning are inseparably linked. 

Francesco Gualinetti focused on re-use of underused infrastructures to design sustainable urban landscape architecture. Achieving a balance between the three dimensions of sustainability (environmental, social and economic) is often hard in such projects. In some occasions, the neighbourhood-boosting role takes over, leading to the establishment of mechanisms that might only partially work from a sustainable viewpoint. BOLD methods are offering new opportunities to design decision-making models for urban planning and management. The combination of social media, census, sensors and traditional data gives a new perspective to solve modern urban challenges through a holistic and inclusive approach. Compared to traditional sources, BOLD methods rely on a bigger-scale, more accurate, real-time, data set. In this research, BOLD potential is explored to estimate the extent to which it can help solving the described urban issue.

The questions considered in this research were: How can BOLD help city planners and managers to determine the real-time and holistic impact on social, environmental and economic dynamics in projects of re-use of obsolete or underused infrastructures? How could these projects enhance sustainable benefits without neglecting the positive economic and social impact for the neighbourhood? An in-depth literature study on public parks and brownfield redevelopments can help setting criteria and variables related to sustainability. For each of these variables, it is established whether a BOLD approach could bring more satisfactory results on a selected case study, the High Line Park, in New York. The final product is a framework that serves as decision-making supportive tool, to assess through BOLD and traditional data combined the way these aspects of sustainability connect to each other in such projects. Finally, the framework is tested and adapted to a case study in Rotterdam, the Hofbogen viaduct redevelopment. 

Lieke Muusse studied the simulation of citizen initiatives for urban development by using online platforms: with smart governance, citizen participation for the delivery of services and the transformation of society to a participation society, there is an increased focus of governments on the stimulation of citizen initiatives and the usage of their knowledge for the delivery of services. More and more, online platforms are introduced to collect, connect and help citizen initiatives for the city. However, for a lot of citizen initiatives, the current revenue-models and legal & bureaucratic systems are not always suitable for the citizen initiatives. So, there is a mismatch between the government and its governance and the pursuit of citizen initiatives. Besides, governments are rather slow in adapting and utilising certain platforms. So, local governments have to find ways to guide the organisation through the process of necessary change in order to be able to stimulate citizen initiatives. However, there is a lack of usable mechanism and frameworks that give insight in and promote bottom-up collaboration and participation. Hence, insight is needed in the organisational structure of local governments for the stimulation of citizen initiatives. Besides, insight is needed in the (possibilities of) online platforms for citizen initiatives and the usage and added value of the platforms.

This research combined an extensive literature review on smart governance, citizen engagement and literature on citizen initiatives and online platforms with an empirical study that followed municipalities and online platforms for citizen initiatives in The Netherlands and examined the case studies on six elements: strategy, technology, organisation, people, environment & success.

More information
Thesis Nynke Wertenbroek - Measuring the spillover effects of urban icons
Thesis Francesco Gualinetti - Building a decision-making supportive tool throug…
Thesis Lieke Muusse - From idea to reality: A study on the stimulation of citiz…