Funded Research Projects


UP2030: Urban Planning and Design Ready for 2030 (HORIZON-MISS-2021-CIT-02)

As cities are responsible for approximately 75% of global emissions, they are central to meeting the 2030 and 2050
emission reduction targets of the European Green Deal, set out to respond to the Paris agreement. The Mission for climate-neutral and smart cities calls for even faster action by cities to meet neutrality. It can be said that cities are at the frontline; however, achieving an intensified decarbonisation is not going to be easy for them. While the ambition is clear – 377 applications were submitted to the Call to join the Mission’s 100 cities cohort – the pathways to meeting its targets are not yet laid out. Specifically, cities follow a project-by-project decarbonisation approach (typically described in climate action plans) but there is a need for a shift towards a strategy-based approach that is anchored on sound projects coupled with supportive policy development. This means identifying barriers that hinder upscaling solutions and addressing them with multilevel and cross-sectoral collaboration, i.e., shaping the necessary innovation- enabling environment for climate neutrality.

As energy consumption takes place literally everywhere, cities need to rethink how all infrastructural systems (e.g., mobility, buildings, waste and the city’s natural environment) can contribute to reducing emissions. At the same time, citizens interact with such urban systems, becoming agents whose everyday decisions and behaviours shape the city, ultimately determining its carbon footprint. Considering the complexity of urban interactions, a mere technological fix cannot address the neutrality challenge. Instead, renewed urban planning and design practices and policies, coupled with social innovation, can play a pivotal role by re-directing these interactions towards desired outcomes.

AMBITION: AMBassadors for sustainable transITION (led by Politecnico di Milano) (ERASMUS +)

AMBITION project is focus on PhD education aiming at acting on the INSTITUTIONAL, PEOPLE AND STRATEGIC LEVELto foster the capacity of the PhD programme, students and country to leverage on evidence-based knowledge in the sector of sustainable development and green technology. 

The educational target was strategically selected: a new generation of researchers, YOUNG ENOUGH to serve the society for decades but MATURE ENOUGH to deliver effective messages to other recipients.

Consortium: two leading African Higher Education Institutions representing West and East parts of the continent have been engaged to foster international cooperation and to enhance the original dialogue across Europe and Africa.

Thematic Focus: to focus on topics of high interest for the public trust in science relevant for both Europe and Africa, like the sustainable transition and the green technology.

Methodological Approach: the Ph.DStudents will undergo a process of transformation which will lead them to become proactive players and ambassadors in the sustainable development arena either as trainers of younger students or as experts able to inform the policy-making process.

Partners: Polimi-Italy (Coordinator), *RWTHAachen-Germany, *Chalmers–Sweden, *TUDelft-Netherlands, KNUST -Ghana, StrathmoreUniversity-Kenya

Associate partners: *ETH Zurich –Switzerland, Green Growth Africa (ISNAD-Africa), *IDEA LEAGUE member

2019-2021: Union for the MediterraneanUfM Working Groups on Urban Regeneration & Housing Action Plans

Istanbul, metropolis on the Mediterranean. Photo by R.Rocco.

The Union for the Mediterranean is an intergovernmental institution bringing together 43 countries to promote dialogue and cooperation in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The UfM , in partnership with member states, has developed the  UfM Strategic Urban Development Action Plan 2040, and a project pipeline under the UfM Urban Agenda of 2017.

TU Delft (SPS) is the lead knowledge partner in this process, in charge of coordinating research that will ground both Action Plans and drafting the final text.  The Action Plans aims to promote integrated, sustainable, fair and inclusive urban regeneration and development across the Mediterranean region as a means to foster human development, economic prosperity, political stability and overall sustainability.  The key frameworks that guide the action plan are listed HERE.

The key areas of action for integrated urban planning focus on: 1. Informal settlements and deprived neighbourhoods as focus points for the creation of inclusive cities and regions. 2. Former brownfields and railway sites as focus points for urban regeneration and area re-development. 3. Heritage and tourism as drivers of economic prosperity. 4. Port-areas, port-cities and their hinterlands as drivers of sustainable economic prosperity. Besides coordinating the writing of both action plans, TU Delft will coordinate a series of events to consult and inspire stakeholders around the region, with the objective of gathering a community of academics, policy makers, and students from around the region who will be the future leaders for positive change in the Mediterranean.

TU Delft’s participation is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MinBuZa). 

For more information, please click HERE and read the ACTION PLAN HERE

2019-2020: COMENIUS

The Comenius programme stimulates innovation in Dutch higher education.

The grants and fellowships enable professionals in higher education to implement their ideals and ideas in practice. By facilitating a wide range of educational innovations each year, the programme contributes to the improvement of Higher Education in the Netherlands. Furthermore, by demonstrably valuing excellent and inspired teaching, the ministry of education is keen to contribute to more variety in the careers of teachers and researchers at universities and universities of applied sciences.

Project : Bridge DOCS research project Integrating online education with on-campus classrooms (Igor Moreno, Roberto Rocco). 

A broad international debate is paramount for urban planning education. To this end, the Bridge DOCS research project aims to connect students from online courses with students in on-campus classrooms. Igor Pessoa and Roberto Rocco received a Comenius Teaching Fellowship grant of € 50.000,- to develop the necessary platform. They will start with connecting first year Urbanism students with students from the MOOC ‘Rethink the city’.

Increasing the range of urban planning practices encourages students to think creatively and develop a critical perspective. The outstanding international aspect of the online courses from TU Delft is also reflected in on-campus classrooms, but there is little integration between the two groups of students.

The Bridging DOCS project aims to connect on-campus students with students from online courses. This integration will start with the development of a platform connecting first year students of the ‘Methodology for Urbanism’ MSc course with participants to the ‘Rethink the city’ MOOC. The case studies and the discussions from the online course will broaden the debate in the on-campus course, increase diversity of perspectives, and bring a critical international perspective to the classroom. The project has the potential to be expanded to other master disciplines inside and outside the faculty. The overall goal is to transfer the diversity, richness and fun from virtual MOOCs into TU Delft classrooms.

The Comenius Teaching Fellowship supports small-scale innovation in higher education. The Teaching Fellow becomes part of a network of Comenius fellows at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences [KNAW in Dutch]. This enables professionals in higher education to implement their ideals and ideas in practice. Igor Pessoa and Roberto Rocco are the first Comenius Teaching Fellows of BK Bouwkunde.

2017-2018: COHESIFY


The COHESIFY project funded by the Horizon2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation is investigating whether people in Europe are aware of the EU’s Regional Policy programmes or projects in their regions and in how far they identify with the EU. In particular, the project investigates how, on the one hand, (1) the ways in which the funding is used and its results communicated, and, on the other hand, (2) the characteristics of the regions where it is used (territorial, socio-economic, institutional), affect the ways in which citizens perceive the EU.

For two years, a consortium of 8 partner universities across Europe and 2 SMEs – among them a team from the TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment (Urbanism and OTB) – is conducting multi-disciplinary research on the topic. In the current context of Brexit and discussions on the future of Cohesion Policy at European level, the project is very much needed to give orientation and guidance to politicians and policy-makers at the European, national and regional levels. One of the main objectives is to better understand the relationship between the levels of EU-funding received in certain regions and the level of support to the European Union achieved. For example, Wales and Cornwall in the United Kingdom, is a relatively peripheral region that lags in economic development, and thus also one of the so-called “net-beneficiary regions”, receiving more money from the European Union’s Cohesion policy funds than what it pays. Despite this, the Welsh and Cornish citizens have voted “leave” this summer. Why? Has the use of the EU funds been ineffective or perhaps have the results gone unnoticed by the wider public? With nationalism on the rise in many European countries, there is a growing concern whether the European Union is still reaching its citizens today and whether the money is well spent in this respect. Therefore, one of the fields of interest will also be to analyse the communication campaigns on EU Regional funding that were conducted in numerous regions.

TU Delft COHESIFY team: Marcin Dąbrowski, Ana Maria Fernandez Maldonado, Bardia Mashhoodi (Chair of Environmental Technology & Design), Prof. Vincent Nadin, Roberto Rocco, Marjolein Spaans (OTB), Dominic Stead, Prof. Wil Zonneveld.


2015-2018: The Political Meaning of Informal Urbanisation

Book project. This project is related to various ongoing initiatives, including the Research Group INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT led by Ana Maria F. Maldonado and me at the Department of Urbanism of  the TU Delft and several networking actions towards constituting a research community on issues related to urbanisation processes in developing and transition economies. For a complete overview of this project, please click HERE.

2013-2016: Planning for Energy Efficient Cities


Researcher for the project  (FP7 Project Energy-Smart Cities-2012) funded by the European Commission as partners with a number of municipalities and universities, led by the city of Eskilstuna in Sweden. Participation in WP4 development at the University of  Copenhagen, led by Christian Feltner. Responsible for case Stoke-on-Trent (UK). 

2009- 2011: Assistant researcher at the University of Hertfordshire, UK,

Social Sciences Arts and Humanities Research Institute. Research into areas of design and creative practice and their relationship with academic traditional research. Funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.

2004-2007: Fully funded Doctoral Research programme at the Delft University of Technology.

Title:  “An Urban Geography of Globalisation: New urban structures in the age of hyper connectivity”. 

2000: Scholarship for postgraduate research at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Funded by the Alfa fellowship programme (co-operation between Higher Education Institutions of the European Union and Latin America) of Development and Cooperation programme of the European Commission.

1999-2001: Full scholarship for the postgraduate masters programme of the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of Sao Paulo (FAUUSP)

Resulting in the thesis: This research was supervised by Professor Sueli R. Schiffer and funded by The state of Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

1992-1994: Bursary in the CNPq national programme for young researchers (Iniciacao Cientifica)

Training at the Department of History of the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of Sao Paulo (FAUUSP). Research assistant to Professor Maria Cecilia França Lourenço (History of Art). Funded by the Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq).

One response to “Funded Research Projects

  1. Pingback: Meet Roberto Rocco | Planning Complex Cities TU Delft·

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