Planning for sustainable development

Planning for sustainable development

The research activities are oriented toward the study of changes and mutations that occur in the interaction between humans and their social and physical environments. Consequently, research in the area has a wide disciplinary breadth.

Research specialisations

Research activities within the research field consist of four research lines. The research lines have all an emphasis on planning for sustainability and urban development:

Inclusive urban design and urban morphologies
This research line addresses the morphogenesis of urban forms and the configurations of urban patterns, and their mutation through time. Through this morphological perspective principles and frameworks for urban development are set up with the purpose of achieving more sustainable built environment. The researchers advocate an inclusive and participative conception of planning and urban design.

Planning processes and power relations
This research line addresses planning processes for sustainable development and the related power relations and decision-making. The research in this line develops a critical reading and analysis of the municipal comprehensive planning processes. It investigates the current strategies, trends and status of land use and spatial planning which target the development of sustainable built environment.

Spatial relations and processes in planning and built environment
This research area adopts a socio-material perspective on subjectivity, power and spatial practices are enacted and experienced in and by planning and the built environment. The mutual influences between 1) visions, ideas and intentions, 2) material space, and 3) experiences, are investigated. Focus is on relations, processes and decision-making analysis, contemporary and historical.

Environmental planning processes
This research line addresses spatial planning from a broad range of perspectives, e. g environmental, law and technology. Complexity and dilemmas of the planning processes are dealt with in a social, spatial and legislative context. New technologies and the emergence of environmental considerations in large-scale planning projects are also addressed.

Example of projects


Throughout the 20th century, urban planning constituted itself as an important tool to spatially direct social developments. Blekinge Institute of Technology, BTH, together with three other European universities has received a SEK 7,5 million grant for a study on urban planning in the establishment, development and transformation of European cities, regions and nations.

Throughout the 20th century, urban planning constituted itself as an important tool to spatially direct social developments. This applies to Europe more than to any other continent. Urban planning contributed significantly to the emergence of the welfare state, strong economies and a relatively balanced settlement structure. However, urban planning also caused the suppression and destruction of some population groups and natural and cultural resources.

Most studies on 20th century urban planning adopt a national perspective, and they have been conducted with different methods. A single comprehensive study of the role of urban planning in Europe has been lacking – until now.

Professor Abdellah Abarkan together with the Bauhaus University in Weimar in Germany, the University of Valladolid in Spain and the University Pavol Jozef Safarik in Slovakia, has received funding for a research project with the aim to develop and sustainably promote a joint understanding of the history of urban planning in the 20th century from a European perspective.

Funding: The research project has received € 3,700,000 from the EU fund “Marie Curie Innovative Training Network” where BTH receives just over € 790,000.

Contact person: Abdellah Abarkan,