Zef Hemel is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning (Wibaut Chair) at the University of Amsterdam.
While big pretentions in the past have jeopardized the future of urban planning, in his research and planning practice Zef Hemel tries to focus on its core: economy, ecology, democracy, and imagination. He is searching for a new kind of open planning – a planning which can easily adjust to permanently changing circumstances and benefits from unexpected opportunities. In all his planning projects, Hemel works with citizens, inviting them to engage, using the city ‘as a brain’, as a potential space of ‘collective intelligence’. Such a radically different kind of planning is needed, because the world is urbanizing fast and seems to be rushing into one crisis after another. Because of the growing complexity, the type of planning required is local, at the level of individual cities and the spheres of influence.