Urban design, spatial planning and place making

Find a doctoral supervisor to match your research theme.

Elham Bahmanteymouri 

Elham has qualifications in urban and regional planning and design as well as urban economics. She is an urban planner and urban economist with 16 years professional experience. Elham’s research is primarily focused on urban planning economics, economic of incomplete markets, planning theory, political economy of space and behavioural economy. She has particular expertise in the provision of urban growth management policies and the economic assessment of housing and urban development policies. Additionally, she investigates the causes and consequences of the failures of the planning policies. Through deployment of a Lacanian (post-)Marxist approach, her recent research is concerned with an understanding of urban phenomena, and suggesting better solutions to urban problems such as housing unaffordability and uneven urban development.

Areas of research

  • Urban land economics
  • Urban growth management and housing policies
  • Planning theory
  • Logic-based analysis of planning practices
  • Economics of incomplete markets
  • The experience economy
  • Smart and sharing economy
  • Pedagogy of planning discipline.

View Elham's full profile

Contact Elham

Lee Beattie

Lee is an urban planner and designer with 21 years' professional experience. He has qualifications in urban planning and design, and environmental science. He is currently involved in a number of research projects considering urban growth management, urban design implementation issues and the role of urban design panels in a range of Pacific Rim (Australasian and North American) new world cities.

Lee is actively involved in the urban planning and design profession in New Zealand. He is a member of the New Zealand Planning Institute's Auckland Branch and a rotating Chair on the Institute¹s Membership Panel. He is also a member of the Auckland Council's Urban Design Panel, an Auckland Council Independent Hearing Commissioner, a member of Planning Quarterly (Journal of the New Zealand Planning Institute) and the Salmon Resource Management Act 1991 Editorial Board.

Areas of research

  • Urban design
  • Urban planning policy development
  • Implementation and evaluation
  • Growth management and urban design research
  • Economic development and housing issues

View Lee's full profile

Contact Lee

Emilio Garcia

The research of Dr. Emilio Garcia has been focused in the application of ecological resilience to urban landscapes. In 2008 he won a Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction. In the last six years he has been researching about resilience in relationship with compactness, adaptability, inequality, inheritance, and processes of persistence and change in built environments. He is currently finishing the book "Unravelling sustainability and resilience in the built environment" with Professor Brenda Vale, that will be published by Routledge in January 2017.

Areas of research

  • Resilience, inequality and affordability
  • Resilience of compact and disperse urban landscapes
  • Adaptive change, transformative change and collapse in cities
  • Panarchy, adaptive cycles, thresholds, and multiple stability states in built environments
  • Measurement of resilience and heterogeneity of urban landscapes
  • Resilience and Inheritance

View Emilio's full profile

Contact Emilio


Kai Gu

Kai Gu is Associate Professor in urban planning. He has a long-standing and interdisciplinary interest in urban morphology as well as urban landscape management in New Zealand and China.

Areas of research

  • Urban morphology and urban planning
  • Urban landscape management
  • Urban design theory and practice

Recent projects/research

View Kai's full profile

Contact Kai


Manfredo Manfredini

Consistent with his doctoral and post-doctoral studies at the technical universities of Milan and Berlin, Manfredo’s research focuses on the intersections between the historical, critical and projective disciplines of architecture and urbanism. It concerns both theoretical and empirical design aspects of the modern and contemporary periods of continuous change within social, cultural and technological frameworks. His study areas, including both fundamental and applied research, are articulated along complementary axes, addressing transitions in public space, evolution of building typology and morphology, advances in sustainability and resilience in architecture and urbanism, and contemporary design education.

Areas of research

  • Public space transitions: form and meaning, borders and armatures, enclaves and networks, illusion and displacements in the spatial transitions from the consumerist to the post-consumerist ages
  • Urban regeneration: recombinant urban processes and post-typological architecture in rapidly evolving historical cities
  • Architecture as social morphology: processes of differentiation, hybridisation and incrementalism of type, form and identity between modernity and post-modernity
  • Sustainability in architecture and urbanism: technological frameworks and environment, energy, resilience and preservation in architecture and urbanism

View Manfredo's full profile

Contact Manfredo


Mohsen Mohammadzadeh

Mohsen is an urban planner and designer with 12 years professional experience. He worked in both public and private sectors in Iran and then New Zealand. He has qualifications in Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Design, Academic Practice, and Civil Engineering.

Areas of research

  • Critical Urban Theory
  • Decolonisation of Planning
  • Planning and urban conflicts
  • Smart City and the Ethics of emerging technologies
  • Disruptive Mobility and its impacts on future cities   

Recent projects/research

  • Disruptive Mobility and its impact on travel behaviour
  • Micro-mobility as a support to attain SDGs
  • Decolonising Planning
  • The role of AI, machine learning and digital twinning in reshaping planning in late capitalism 

Visit Mohsen’s profile

Contact Mohsen


Marjorie van Roon

Marjorie’s focus: designing/managing environments to minimise changes to hydrological, sedimentary and ecological regimes. Past research: assessment and prediction of water quality of the Upper Waitemata Harbour following urbanisation: heavy metal pollution from stormwater inputs to the Manukau Harbour. Current research: receiving water and ecological efficacy of Low Impact Urban Design and Development/Water Sensitive Design. Paired catchment investigations compare the ecological state of traditional versus water sensitive residential developments.

Areas of research

  • Low impact urban design and development (LIUDD)
  • Water sensitive design and green infrastructure uptake
  • The aquatic ecosystem health improvement from LIUDD
  • Water sensitive design implementation in residential Auckland
  • Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem management and restoration
  • Integrated catchment (watershed) management
  • Coastal management.

Visit Marjorie's full profile

Contact Marjorie