Delft, The Netherlands, 08 Sep 2021

Mr. Koen Olthuis awarded with a Doctoral degree

On 8 September 2021, Mr. Koen Olthuis from the Netherlands, successfully defended his PhD thesis and was awarded with a Doctoral degree. Professor Chris Zevenbergen was his promotor.

The PhD research focused on

Slums located near water bodies lack services provision while being hindered by flood risks, shortage of resource and space, population growth, as well as their perception as temporary and illegal settlements by local authorities. At the same time, projects designed for these areas failed to consider locational and environmental aspects. 

This dissertation aims to investigate, through research by design approach, the opportunities that floating services implemented on water spaces can bring to answer part of the constraints faced in projects dedicated to living conditions’ improvement in these slums. Analyzing upgrading projects and investigating slums located in flood-prone areas pinpointed their tendency to expand onto water bodies, the negative influence of floods risks on services availability, as well as their heterogenous and dynamic nature – wetslum is proposed as a term to define these specific areas. 

These results are used to determine an approach and guidelines for small scale projects dedicated to these settlements. This leads to the development and testing – through an iterative process involving a prototype – of the City App concept providing plug & play floating services without interfering with the existing urban fabric. Issues faced for the prototype’s implementation led to the proposition – through an analysis of the governance in slum implicating meetings with NGOs and an ex-ante survey – of a strategy combining planned and autonomous adaptation approaches – plantonomous adaptation strategy, as well as of an operating lease model – upgrading as a service.

Key findings of this research are the necessity of pre-disaster investment – requesting policymakers to accept the permanent nature of slums, the development of an analytical method to better understand them and favor further.

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