Centre of Applied Research Technology

Spatial Urban Transformation

Every time we build, we create a lasting tribute to the identity, resilience and direction of place, environment, area and city. From this perspective, the Spatial Urban Transformation research group at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) conducts practice-oriented research into urban redevelopment, densification and public space. The emphasis here is on liveability and the opportunities spatial transformation offers for solving major social transitions.

The housing shortage in the Netherlands is still unusually high, reflected in the goal of building 1 million new homes in the next 10 years. Those homes must be added within existing city limits. At the same time, buildings and neighbourhoods have to comply with ever-increasing requirements to make them more sustainable and better able to cope with the consequences of climate change. Imagine developing a plan that combines the challenges of climate resilience, energy, inclusiveness, circularity, greenery, ecology and mobility. The task facing municipalities, design agencies, housing corporations and construction companies is to create innovative, feasible and affordable solutions.

Responding to new developments

The AUAS Urban Transformation research group supports practitioners by jointly developing and conducting action-oriented research. This follows an interdisciplinary approach, combining expertise in urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, environmental psychology and data sciences. Urban Transformation works closely together with other research groups, with neuroarchitecture, artificial intelligence and design research going hand in hand in its work. Important research themes are building for wellbeing and nature-inclusive building.

Co-creation sessions, field excursions and brochures that put themes on the agenda regularly recur in projects of the Urban Transformation research group. In this way, insights from the research can be applied in the public domain while the project is still ongoing. The research group shares its knowledge through numerous media: examples include presentations and moderations at conferences, symposia and exhibitions, interviews and articles in professional journals, books, content for websites and scientific publications.

The professor

Frank Suurenbroek is Professor of Spatial Urban Transformation at the AUAS Faculty of Engineering. He has focused on urban transformation, in research and practice, for over 20 years. His career journey began with a PhD on Incremental Urban Transformation. He then worked as a senior consultant at Architekten Cie and Inbo Amsterdam on complex transformation projects. Since late 2014, Suurenbroek has led an interdisciplinary team in his research group that now has over 14 multi-year research projects to its credit. Suurenbroek is affiliated with the Centre of Expertise City Net Zero and the TU Delft Centre for Just City.


The Urban Transformation research group is closely involved with the education provided at the AUAS, through graduation workshops, minors, IP, guest lectures, jury memberships, curriculum committees and the AUAS Education and Research Council. Insights from the research are reflected in the various courses and projects of the curriculums, including Built Environment. Students can also approach the research group and its partners for learning support, graduation internships and final assignments. The research group is co-developer of the new AUAS Urban Design Lab, in which practitioners and students from various fields of expertise address multidisciplinary issues in the built environment.


For each project, Spatial Urban Transformation builds consortia with design agencies, spatial contractors, network partners and scientists. A large number of municipalities, housing corporations, design agencies, project developers and other parties have now participated. The research group also cooperates at project level with knowledge institutions, at home and abroad, including TU Delft, UvA, InHolland, Fontys, Harvard University, RMIT, ANFA, Tufts University and the University of Venice.

One of the group’s goals is to facilitate wider knowledge sharing, reflection and agenda-setting, in practice. From this perspective the group therefore collaborates with network partners such as BNSP, Nai010, Pakhuis de Zwijger, Architectenweb, ArCam, PBL, Nemo, European Federation for Living, Vereniging Deltametropool, Ruimte+Wonen and others. Spatial Urban Transformation also partners in projects for SIA and ZonMW and the European initiatives Interreg and EU Bauhaus.

Published by  Centre for Applied Research Technology 23 November 2023

  dr. F. Suurenbroek (Frank)

Professor Spatial Urban Transformation

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