Compact cities and informal settlements. Exploring qualities, drivers and strategies for promoting sustainable urban development
Research Project, 2016 – 2019

Research and policy argue for more compact cities to respond to sustainable development challenges. However, there is little clarity on what actually needs to be made more compact. This is especially the case for informal settlements in Sub-Saharan Africa, where generic, North notions of urban qualities, are even detrimental to positive urban change.

This project contributes to a precise and operational understanding of which qualities should be the result of more compact cities and how such qualities can be promoted. It will: 1) Develop a system of metrics for urban qualities linked to urban compactness and informal settlements; 2) Develop an integrated understanding of urban development drivers in contexts of informality and urban compactness; and 3) Develop recommendations for inclusive strategies and strategy-making processes supporting beneficial urban development patterns in informal settlements.

The project will apply case study methods, including document studies, ethnographic and participatory observations, interviews, focus groups and stakeholder workshops. The focus of the project is on urban change in informal settlements in Kisumu (Kenya), but field studies in other global South cities will facilitate comparative learning and enhanced validity. Insights and recommendations will be useful in wider South (and potentially North) contexts, as they will contribute to the understanding of how to improve living conditions and life opportunities for the urban poor. 


Jenny Stenberg (contact)

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Architectural theory and methods

Jaan-Henrik Kain

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Urban Design and Planning


Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science & Technology

Bondo, Kenya

University of Gothenburg

Gothenburg, Sweden



Project ID: 2015-360
Funding Chalmers participation during 2016–2018

Related Areas of Advance and Infrastructure

Sustainable development

Driving Forces

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Areas of Advance


More information

Project Web Page at Chalmers

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