Urban Socio-Spatial Development

The Urban Socio-Spatial Development cluster focuses on the making of cities and the interactions with and transitions within cities.

It addresses topics such as the creation and appropriation of urban space, civic engagement leading to transformations in the built and social environment, and the right to the city, focusing on the right to land and housing. The cluster critically reflects on the phenomenon of urban informality and assesses the social, spatial, economic and cultural impacts of urban dynamics. It pays special attention to inclusive urban development and gender issues in planning and housing. It investigates bottom-up and middle-out approaches to city-making. It also comprises self-administration and urban planning as disciplines established at the local level. The cluster highlights the inextricable link between urban planning and housing. It applies social, spatial and gender justice principles as a framework for analyzing urban processes and assessing projects, plans, and policies. It introduces the concept of housing justice and the principles behind attaining adequate housing to make just, inclusive and livable cities.

This thematic cluster requires an understanding of urban societies, the interaction of diverse stakeholder groups, gender, political economies and the dynamics of social interactions in space and time. It also includes the active transformation and conservation of space through urban renewal.

Typical questions relating to this cluster entail: How do urban communities develop? What characterizes the space created by urban societies? What are the links between gender relations and socio-economic and spatial processes in cities? To what extent can historic features accommodate urban transition? What are the impacts of housing and urban renewal on the social and economic life in the cities? To what extent do land, housing, and gender approaches in urban planning contribute to social and spatial justice?

Meet the Urban Socio-Spatial Development Department


Dr. Alonso Ayala | Head of Urban Socio-Spatial Development

Alonso Ayala is an architect and development planner specialising in regional development planning, human settlement planning and urban and housing research in emerging economies, as well as academic and professional capacity building. 

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Dr Anitra Baliga | Urban Development Specialist

Dr Anitra Baliga is an urban sociologist with a background in Architecture. She researches real estate development, financialization, and the commodification of land within the context of liberalization.

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Dr. Bahar Sakizlioglu | Specialist in Housing & Urban Sociologist

Bahar Sakizlioglu is a member of the Urban Housing, Equity & Social Justice team. Her main research interests are gentrification, displacement, housing, feminist urban studies, social reproduction and the city and comparative urbanism. 

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Carolina Lunetta | Specialist in Spatial Planning and Gender

Carolina has seven years of working experience in urban management and architecture projects in the public and private sectors. Her main areas of interest focus on urban planning, urban development, informal land markets and gender.

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Charmae Nercua | Specialist in Land and Housing Development Strategies

Charmae Pyl Wissink-Nercua is an urban management and development expert specializing in land and housing development strategies with more than 15 years of professional experience in the field. 

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Ore Fika | Senior Specialist in Urban Land and Housing Development

Ore Fika is an urban land governance specialist and researcher with a background in architecture and project management. She focuses on land development strategies that enable the lower-income to have equitable access to land and housing.

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Lecturer and senior expert

Dr. Maartje van Eerd | Senior Specialist in Housing & Social Development

Maartje van Eerd is a Human Geographer by profession with extensive experience as a researcher, trainer and advisor on housing and social development issues. She has conducted extensive research on resettlement projects, forced evictions and acquisition.

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Maarten Zeehandelaar

Remco Vermeulen | Specialist in Urban Heritage Strategies

Remco Vermeulen is an Urban Heritage Strategies expert at IHS. He has relevant working experience in the private and (semi-)public sectors, mainly in the field of urban heritage, shared history, gentrification and cultural diplomacy.

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Mariya Khan

Mariya Nadeem Khan is the Academic Assistant within the Urban Socio-Spatial Development department at IHS with work experience in human rights advocacy, research, and teaching. Her academic research builds on violence, nationalism, labour laws and social movements in South Asia and the GCC.

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photo by Mauro Mora on Unsplash.com

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