Forced Migration as Urban Development: The Emergence of Formal and Informal Planning Approaches for the Arrival and Settlement of Refugees

Project Details


The relation between asylum and urban planning tends to be
reduced to discussions about emergency measures, such as the
construction of asylum camps, rather than seeing refugees as longterm community members. Largely neglected by scholars, some
cities have nevertheless recognized the role of urban planning in
providing durable solutions for housing, neighborhood development,
and immigrant integration. This project analyzes the development of
urban planning responses to the arrival and settlement of refugees
from two perspectives. First, by comparing different national and
local planning systems, institutions, and cultures, it focuses on the
emergence of formal planning procedures, their realization, and the
consequences for refugees. Second, it studies informal planning
processes, spatial behavior, and city-making practices from the
viewpoint of refugees and “intermediary” actors (NGOs, local welfare
organizations, etc.) as planning agents, together with their impact on
the urban fabric. This research explains the factors relevant for the
emergence of different formal and informal local approaches, their
position in a city’s broader policy framework and urban development
aspirations, and their functions in including or excluding refugees.
The analysis will create systematic knowledge about the interplay of
formal and informal planning, uncovering the “myth of formality” in
the global north by exemplifying how informality has found its way
into urban planning realities.
Effective start/end date1/10/2130/09/24


  • urban planning
  • asylum
  • urban policy

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Political geography
  • Urban and regional geography
  • Local and urban politics
  • Ethnicity and migration studies
  • Urban sociology and community studies


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.