Archives de l’auteur : DCUN

Words & Concepts

“Wording Urban Diffusion”

Driven by the wish to produce innovative scientific material, the DCUN organized on the 21 November 2018 a workshop entitled “Wording Urban Diffusion”. This event that took place at the Architecture School of Paris-Belleville in Paris (France) and gathered more than fifteen speakers who discussed and examined the lexicon linked to the territorial diffusion of urbanization.

Today, urban diffusion is global and induces in the field of urban studies a revision in the way of thinking the relations between urbanism and territory. For this reason, this phenomenon has been studied in different geographical and historical contexts, and has resulted in the production of a terminology and a conceptual and theoretical apparatus in different languages.

This workshop was an opportunity for the scientific community to question the conceptual, disciplinary and methodological frameworks that have guided the production of knowledge on urbanization processes in different contexts and historical moments.



DCUN provides online content of this workshop with 8 videos, please see below


1 – Thomas Sieverst: “What are the problems with wording urban diffusion?”

This talk discusses the importance of adequate terms for the phenomenon of urban diffusion and the necessity to use words, which are connectable to ordinary language.

This means, that an adequate word should evoke suitable, correct and not negative images, the latter we can observe in Germany and this makes constructive discussions difficult from the very beginning. A good term might even have a poetic dimension. Completely artificial terms do not generally have these qualities.

To watch DCUN’s video (1) (content in English) click below or here


2 – Susan Parham & Matthew Hardy: “Repairing Suburbs – The socio-spatial dimension of the traditional urbanism discourse”

In Britain and the United-States, suburbs have over the past couple of decades generated an increasing amount of academic research. Initially, many of these works attempted at shedding light on the forces shaping these changing suburban areas and at describing their spatial characteristics. More recently however, a number of publications have focused on design and action, in particular those produced by academics and practitioners who can be referred to as traditional urbanists. These works suggest a number of principles and methods aiming at transforming, retrofitting and ‘repairing’ suburbs identified as sprawl based on transect principles and in the light of current social, economic and environmental issues.

To watch DCUN’s video (2) (content in English) click below or here


3 – Chiara Barattucci: “The italian urban planners lexical inventions describing the diffusion and dispersion of urbanization, since 1960”

This presentation aims at explaining the functioning of sector language of italian urban planners in relation to their rich neological creation about low density urbanization. In this contribution the author identifies and observes, in particular, the use, the diffusion and the role of three neological expressions, widely used from the sixties by Italian planners in their texts: (i) Campagna urbanizzata, (ii) Urbanizzazione diffusa and (iii) Città diffusa. Speaking of Città diffusa, this presentation will also stress the significance given to this expression by its inventor, Professor Francesco Indovina (thanks to a recent interview realized for the DCUN’s workshop).

To watch DCUN’s video (3) (content in French followed by translation in English) click below or here


4 – Charlotte Vorms: “Does the notion of urban periphery always make sense? Perspectives from collective works on the naming of urban periphery”

Drawing on the experience of several collective works (“Les mots de la ville” research programme, the book What’s in a name? Talking about suburbs, and “La ville informelle au 20e siècle” research programme), the talk discusses the relevance of the generic notion of urban periphery and the importance of other criteria to describe urban space, according to place, time and speakers.

To watch DCUN’s video (4) (content in English) click below or here


5 – Feriel Boustil: “Urban peculiarities in Algeria: words and specificities”

The classic concepts of urbanization of the countryside (periurbanization, urban sprawl, etc.) are concepts that present the evolution of the urban world as a simple consequence of urbanization mechanisms in the morphological and functional sense of the term whether in America or in Europe. The urban growth in the western Mitidja in Algeria implies an incorporation of several terms in the social system of the city of the “periurbanisation”, “rurbanisation” and “between two”, this intimate mixture between city and countryside is as much in space than in the heads of the inhabitants. Peri-urban areas move and move away but in Algeria – formerly colonized country – this state of affairs is rather characterized by the notion of order and disorder and a process of migration between town and country.

To watch DCUN’s video (5) (content in French followed by translation in English) click below or here


6 – Astrid Safina, Leonardo Ramondetti & Filippo Fiandanese: “Diffuse urbanization with Chinese characteristics’”

The contemporary Chinese landscape has been mainly described by opposing megalopolis to minor cities, coastal to inland regions, and urban to rural areas. However, during the last three decades this landscape has been radically transformed. Within this framework, a ‘blurred space’ is taking shape by the erosion of boundaries and hierarchies between cities and countryside, by the capillarity of the infrastructures and by stronger interconnections between urban and rural areas. In recent years, scholars have used different expressions to describe this phenomenon, such as city regions or urban agglomerations; while others have associated it to the south-east Asian desakota regions or to the suburban or post-suburban areas.

This talk presents some outcomes of the ongoing empirical researches on the city of Zhaoqing, in the Pearl River Delta, the city of Zhengzhou, in the Central Plain Agglomeration, and Tongzhou District, in the JingJinJi Region.

To watch DCUN’s video (6) (content in English) click below or here


7 – Anne Grillet-Aubert & Bernadette Laurencin: “The texture of the city. Words and Maps of Urban Diffusion in China”

A rich vocabulary gives account of diff use urbanization in Europe and in other continents. These words designate different processes and forms of urban sprawl. They invite us to examine the morphological specificities of urbanization in different contexts that also depend on preexisting urban forms. Does diff use urbanization break with former substrata and processes? Is it a symptom of broader and deeper transformations? This talk describes the patterns of urban diffusion in China in relation with Chinese lexicon on cities and urbanization. Also, it compares diff use urban morphologies in China with other periurban territories in Europe and the United-States.

To watch DCUN’s video (7) (content in French) click below or here


8 – Charles Goldblum: “Concluding Remarks”

On the basis of the presentations given in the workshop, Charles Goldblum concludes with a series of remarks and presents possible lines of research.

To watch DCUN’s video (8) (content in English) click below or here









Hanoi – Vietnam

Since the adoption of a “socialist-oriented market economy” (1986), Hanoi has seen an average of 3% urban growth per year. Today, the government aims to make Hanoi the national gateway for foreign direct investment (FDI), competing with regional poles like Bangkok and Jakarta. With a population of 8 million, Hanoi is the second largest city in the country (behind Ho Chi Minh City) and generates around 15% of national GDP. Its rapid urbanization followed the desakota pattern, characterized by (i) a demographic boom triggered by rural-urban migrations; (ii) densification of the urban fabric across the extended region; (iii) urban sprawl through large-scale property developments; and (iv) the development of economic and industrial zones. Infrastructure is being upgraded to international standards through the modernization of the road network and major transit developments.





Individual DCUN’s Members

Nuriah Abd Majid (Research Fellow, Lecturer). Institute for the Environment and Development (LESTARI), University Kebangsaan Malaysia. (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise field: GIS, Geohazard, Spatial Modeling, Urban geography.

Sharina Abdul Halim (Senior Lecturer). Institute for the Environment and Development (LESTARI), University Kebangsaan Malaysia. (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise filed: Environmental Sociology, Indigenous and Island Communities, Adaptation & Sustainable Livelihoods, Heritage Conservation.

Anne Aguilera (Researcher, Authorised research supervisor). LVMT, Université Gustave Eiffel (more details).

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field: urban mobility, urban form, polycentrism, location strategies, business travel, ICT.

Sarah Aziz Abdul Ghani Aziz (Associate Professor, Senior Research Fellow. Institute for the Environment and Development (LESTARI), University Kebangsaan Malaysia. (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise Field: Natural resources and environmental law, Law and disaster risk reduction, Law and heritage conservation,Governance and sustainable development.

Leslie Belton-Chevallier (Research Fellow). DEST, Université Gustave Eiffel. (more details). 

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field: Sociology of mobilities and (urban and periurban) lifestyles, ICT.

Julien Birgi (Ph.D. student & senior planner). CESSMA, INALCO, Bordeaux Metropolitan Authority

DCUN member

Expertise field : Urban development, Real estate and Goverbance in Indonesia

Olivier Bonin (Research Fellow). LVMT, Université Gustave Eiffel (more details).

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field:

Antoine Bres (Professor). University Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne.

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field:

Delphine Callen (Assistant professor). Lab’Urba, UPEC.

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field: periurban, housing policies.

Emmanuel Cerise (Research & Architect). Paris Region Expertise (PRX), Hanoi (Vietnam), UMR AUSser.

DCUN member

Expertise field: Urban and Regional Planning, Housing.

Kévin Chesnel (Researcher), UMR AAU, Lab’Urba, Université Gustave Eiffel (more details)

Blog DCUN Coordinator

Expertise field: Urban planning and governance, Housing, Experiments policies

Laetitia Dablanc (Director of Research). LVMT, Université Gustave Eiffel (more details).

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field: freight transportation and policies, freight and the environment, urban freight and logistics, rail freight, logistics sprawl.

Jose-Frederic Deroubaix. LEESU. (more details).

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field: water management and public policies, land disputes, climate change, use of digital tools, urban governance.

Adèle Esposito (Research fellow). CNRS Researcher, UMR AUSser.

DCUN Coordinator.

Expertise field: Architecture, Urban Planning, Cultural Heritage, Urban development in Southeast Asia.

Ahmad Fariz Mohamed (Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer). Institute for the Environment and Development (LESTARI), University Kebangsaan Malaysia. (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise field: Waste management. Urban metabolism, Environmental Management System, Industrial Ecology, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Urban Livability.

Josefine Fokdal (Senior Researcher). Department for International Urbanism, University of Stuttgart (Germany).

DCUN member

Expertise field: Spatial theory, Housing, Governance, Informality, Urban development, Urbanization in Asia and Urban embodiment.

Caroline Gallez (Director of Research), LVMT, Université Gustave Eiffel (more details).

DCUN Coordinator

Expertise field: Sociology of mobilities, mobility policies, ecological and energy transition.

Joël Idt (Assistant professor). Lab’Urba, Université Gustave Eiffel.

DCUN Coordinator.

Expertise field: Urban Planning, Urban Governance, Technics and politics in public decision.

Shaharuddin Mohamad Ismail (Associate Fellow). Institute for the Environment and Development (LESTARI), University Kebangsaan Malaysia. (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise field: Urban and Periurban Forest, Ecotourism, Environmental Education, Sustainable Forest Management.

Lee Jing (Research Fellow, Lecturer). Institute for the Environment and Development (LESTARI), University Kebangsaan Malaysia. (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise field: Water and Environmental Security, Environmental and Natural Resources Governance, Tangible and Intangible Heritage and Cultural Diversity.

Vuong Khanh Toan  (Associate Researcher, Lecturer). Hanoi University of Architecture (Vietnam).

DCUN member

Expertise field: Urban Design and Urban Management, Urban development in Vietnam.

Florent Lenechet (Assistant professor). LVMT, Université Gustave Eiffel. (more details)

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field: urban and transport planning

Béatrice Mariolle (Professor). UMR AUSser, ENSAP Lille. (more details).

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field:

Andrew Marton (Professor). University of Vicoria – Pacific and Asian Studies Department –  Asian Pacific Initiatives (Canada). (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise field: Urbanization & regional development in China & Asia, Contemporary Chinese society, Culture and education in China.

Romain Melot. Agroparistech

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field:

Nur Miladan (Lecturer & Researcher). Department of Urban & Regional Planning, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Sebelas Maret (Indonesia). (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise field: Urban & Regional Planning, Disaster and Environmental Management.

Etienne Monin (PhD Geography), Research Officer, National Botanic Conservatory of Pyrénées and Midi-Pyrénées. (more details)

DCUN member 

Expertise field: Periurban Farming, Agri-Food System, Rural Planning, Metropolitan Development in China and Asia.

Clément Musil (Associate Researcher). UMR AUSser.

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field: Urban and transport planning, Land management, Urban development in East and Southeast Asia.

Hélène Nessi. (Assistant professor). University Paris 10, LAVUE. (more details)

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field: Urban and transport planning, Energy transitions, Energy policies, Urban form, Urban mobility, Urban and periurban lifestyles.

Marie Lan Nguyen Leroy (Researcher). Paris Region Expertise (PRX), Hanoi (Vietnam) . (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise field: land law, land governance, expropriation process, waste management and informal recycling in Vietnam

Kusumaningdyah Nurul Handayani (Lecturer & Researcher). Department of Urban & Regional Planning, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Sebelas Maret (Indonesia). (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise field: urban studies, participatory design and disaster & environmental management.

Andrea Palmioli (Visiting Assistant Professor), Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, College of Engineering , City University of Hong Kong; UMR AUSser) (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise field: Chinese Urbanism, Sino-European Comparative Studies on Diffuse Metropolis, Territories of Dispersion, Bioregional Planning

Margot Pellegrino (Assistant professor). Lab’Urba, Université Gustave Eiffel (more details).

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field: Energy transitions, energy policies, energy-related behavior.

Nicolas Raimbault (Researcher). ESO, Université de Nantes.

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field: logistics activities, urban and regional governance, land and real estate development, blue-collar workers.

Jérôme Rollin.

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field:

Pham Thai Son (Senior Lecturer & Researcher). Academic Coordinator of Sustainable Urban Development at Vietnamese-German University (Vietnam) – in partnership with Technical University of Darmstadt. (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise field: Urban Planning, Livable and Resilience City, Property Market, Transit-Oriented Development, Urban Economics.

Mariane Thebert. LVMT, Université Gustave Eiffel (more details).

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field:

Amandine Toussaint. CIRED

DCUN Editorial board member

Expertise field:

Jian Zhuo (Professor). College of Architecture & Urban Planning (CAUP), Tongji University (China). (more details).

DCUN member

Expertise field: Theories of Urban Planning, Network city, Urban Mobility and Transport.

Institutional Partners


The Joint Research Unit “Architecture, Urbanism, Society: Knowledge, Education, Research” (UMR AUSser no. 3329) had its contract officially extended for 5 years, under the supervision of the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Ministry of Culture and Communications.

The Unit’s research activity revolves around the production of architectural, urban and landscape objects considered in terms of their relationships with the societies that have gradually shaped them and in the light of the new design issues facing researchers, producers and users of these spaces at the level of individual buildings and the territory as a whole.


IFSTTAR is a major player in the European research on the city and the territories, transportation and civil engineering. The French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks, born on January 1st 2011, from the merger of INRETS and LCPC, is a Public Institution of a Scientific and Technical Nature, under the joint supervision of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and the Sea and the Ministry of higher education and research. IFSTTAR conducts applied research and expert appraisals in the fields of transport, infrastructure, natural hazards and urban issues with the aim of improving the living conditions of our fellow citizens and, more widely, promoting the sustainable development of our societies.



IIHS, the sponsoring organisation, is a section 8 company under the Indian Companies Act, established in 2008 by eminent Indians who have distinguished themselves in various fields, including the government, private sector and civil society. They have come together for a common cause, i.e. to set up a proposed university i.e. the proposed IIHS (Institution of Eminence).



The “Laboratoires d’Excellence” project, one of the projects of the “Investments for the Future” program of the French National Research Agency, is based on the principle that laboratories of excellence emerge in all territories and in all Disciplines, to encourage the best French laboratories to strengthen their scientific potential by recruiting researchers and investing in innovative equipment, to encourage the emergence of ambitious and internationally visible scientific projects carried out by laboratories or groups of laboratories.


Lab’URBA is mainly defined by its enrollment in the School of Urban Planning of Paris being structured by the merger of the two main institutes of French urbanism. The Lab’URBA perimeter also associates teacher-researchers sharing its values ​​and working on urban issues, particularly within the geography department of Paris Est Créteil University (UPEC), the Urban Engineering Department of Paris University. -East Marne-la-Vallée (UPEM) and the School of Engineers of the City of Paris (EIVP)

These institutes and departments find their reason for being in a strong association between a training that follows the evolutions of its reference professional worlds, in France and in the world, and contributes to this evolution by the production of knowledge, the implementation of this knowledge in activities of expertise and a role of animation in the public debate on the social choices which concern the production, the management and the use of the cities.


The Water, Environment and Urban Systems Laboratory (Lees) is a joint laboratory of the École des Ponts ParisTech, Paris-Est Créteil University and AgroParisTech (UMR MA 102). Leesu’s research objective is above all urban water under different approaches:
– Physical and hydrological studies (runoff, transfer in the urban system, lacustrine environments);
– Biogeochemical studies of emissions, fate and effects of chemical and microbiological contaminants in the city / works / receiving environments continuum;
– Study of policies, uses of water, practices and their evolutions.

The Institute for Environment and Development (LESTARI) was established on 1st October 1994 as a multidisciplinary institute within the structure of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. It fulfills the aspirations of the university, as envisioned by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to realise the goal of sustainable development through research and capacity development.

LESTARI was also established to serve as a reference centre capable of dealing with environment and development issues, assisting government in formulating policies based on research of a holistic and balanced kind. The development function is directed towards enhancing human resource capacity through skill development and training, for both government and private sectors.


Laboratory “Ville, Mobilité, Transport » (LVMT) addresses the interactions between city and transportation.The city is dealt with in its largest sense (metropolitan areas, networks of cities…) as is transport: not only commuting movements but also those of the non-constrained type (e.g. leisure, tourism) are considered, as is freight movement within the city.

Created en 2003, the laboratory “Ville, Mobilité, Transport » (LVMT, or “City, Mobility, Transport”) is a joint lab (UMR T9403), resulting from the partnership between an engineering school – ENPC- Ecole des Ponts, a research institute -IFSTTAR – Institute on Technology, Transport and development, and a university – UPEM- the Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée.




PRX-Vietnam is a local representation of the Ile-de-France Region cooperation in Vietnam started in 1989 and based in Hanoi. Since November 2017 Ile-de-France Region oriented it’s cooperation with foreign partners to promote regional private and public expertise with a new platform: Paris Region eXpertise (PRX). In Vietnam this cooperation focus on improvement of public skills and development of urban quality through training, study, expertise and pilot project in several field as urban planning, sustainable development, heritage management, public transportation and environment.





What is DCUN ?

DCUN is as an international and horizontal research platform that aims to facilitate the production of collaborative research and the dissemination of individual and collective research on diffuse urbanization.

Why diffuse urbanization is a major field of investigation?

The territorial diffusion of urbanization, a global phenomenon (Simon, 2008), forms an epistemological break in urban studies. Diffuse urbanization has been studied in many different geographical and historical contexts, and in no other field of urban theory has the production of terminology been more prolific. Among the many terms and concepts developed to describe the continual expansion of “the urban” are urban sprawl (Gottman, 1967), suburbia (Fishman, 1987), desakota (McGee, 1989), città diffusa (Indovina, 1990), exurbia (Nelson, 1992), ville émergente (Dubois-Taine and Chalas, 1997), post-suburbs (Phelps and Wu, 2011), the horizontal metropolis (Viganò, 2013), the edge city (Garreau, 2011), Zwischenstadt (Sieverts, 2004), and planetary urbanization (Brenner, 2014).

As a whole, this well-established, albeit diverse, body of work reveals that the diffusion of urbanization poses major problems for planning and governance and triggers debate on environmental sustainability, whether it concerns the development of new areas or the transformation of existing settlements. In North America and Australia, urbanization has generally taken place on supposedly greenfield and open land, while in Europe, Asia, and Latin America it has developed on pre-existing substrata of human and rural settlements. In these regions, urbanization has been criticized for consuming resources and destroying existing settlements and ecosystems (Allen et al., 1999; Douglas, 2006).

The model of the “compact city” is held up as the best means of conserving resources and the non-urban use of land (Gordon and Richardson, 1997; Jenks and Burgess 2000; Hofstad, 2012). However, Sieverts (2004) recently argued that compact urbanization might be a mere parenthesis in human civilization, and that compact cities may be inapt for humans, whom he sees as social animals best suited to living in small groups in open, borderless spaces. This raises a number of questions. What if effective management could transform diffuse urbanization into a positive asset? What if diffuse urban territories were the urban condition for future societies?

What does DCUN seek to achieve ?

With few exceptions, there is scant research involving grounded, cross-continental comparisons of diffuse urbanization. DCUN aims is to test the validity, scope, and transferability of context-specific urban-analytical lenses on a broader scale by applying them to the phenomenon of diffuse urbanization. This is a complex task as each of these lenses involves specific sets of concepts, disciplinary backgrounds, and methods. However, it should enable us to overcome the North-South compartmentation of urban research and highlight global issues to be addressed in policymaking and planning. DUCN implements research methods involving both historical and future-oriented analysis in order to address the continuous processes of urbanization which, especially in developing and emerging countries, is happening at rapid speed. Moreover, DUCN develops research approaches using case studies and transversal themes involving scholars and professionals from diverse disciplines, including geography, architecture, planning, sociology, environmental sciences, and urban engineering).




  1. Allen, A., da Silva, N.L.A. and E. Corubolo, 1999, Environmental Problems and Opportunities of the Peri-Urban Interface and their Impacts upon the Poor, PUI Research Paper, Development Planning Unit, London.
  2. Brenner, N. 2014. Implosions/explosions: Towards a Study of Planetary Urbanization. Jovis. 573 p.
  3. Douglas, I. 2006. “Peri-urban ecosystems and societies: transitional zones and contrasting values”. In McGregor D, Simon D, Thompson D, (eds). The Peri-Urban Interface: Approaches to Sustainable Natural and Human Resource Use. London/Stirling, VA: Earthscan. pp. 18-29.
  4. Dubois-Taine, G. and Chalas, Y., 1997. La ville émergente. Paris : éditions de l’Aube.
  5. Fishman, R. 1987. Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise And Fall Of Suburbia. New York: Basic Books. 241 p.
  6. Garreau, J. 1991. Edge City: Life on the New Frontier. New York: Doubleday/Anchor. 548 p.
  7. Gottmann, J. 1967. Urbanization and the American Landscape: The Concept of Megalopolis. Problems and Trends in American Geography. Edited by Saul B. Cohen. New York: Basic Books, Inc.
  8. Gordon, P. and Richardson, H.W., 1997. “Are compact cities a desirable planning goal?”. Journal of the American planning association. Vol.63(1). pp.95-106.
  9. Hofstad, H. 2012. “Compact city development: High ideals and emerging practices”. European Journal of Spatial Development. Vol. 49. pp.1-23.
  10. Indovina, F., (ed.). 1990. La Città Diffusa, vol. 1. Venezia: DAEST.
  11. Jenks, M. and Burguess, R. (eds). 2000. Compact Cities: Sustainable Urban Forms for Developing Countries. London and New York: Spon Press. 356 p.
  12. McGee, T. 1989. “Urbanisasi or Kotadesasi Evolving Patterns of Urbanization in Asia,” in Urbanization in Asia: Spatial Dimensions and Policy Issues, edited by F. J. Costa et al. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, pp. 93-108.
  13. Nelson, A. 1992. “Characterizing exurbia”. Journal of Planning Literature. Vol.6 (4), pp.350-368
  14. Phelps, N.-A. and Wu, F. 2011. International Perspectives on Suburbanization. A Post-Suburban World? Houndmills,Basingstoke, Hampshire, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  15. Sieverts, T. 2004. Entre-Ville: une lecture de la Zwischenstadt. Marseille: éditions Parenthèses. 188 p.
  16. Simon, D. 2008. “Urban Environments: Issues on the Peri-Urban Fringe.” In Annual Review of Environment and Resources. Vol. 33. pp 167-185.
  17. Viganò, P. 2013. “The Horizontal Metropolis and Gloeden’s Diagrams: Two Parallel Stories”. Oase 89, February. pp.94-111.