The Bartlett School of Architecture


Contested Urbanism


This two-year project is funded by a Marie Curie Fellowship from the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme. The project investigates the role of political, spatial and social factors in shaping urban segregation in Sweden and Israel. The cases have been chosen to compare ethnic diversity in contrasting political and welfare settings. The project will consider: 

  1. the nation state role in planning for urban segregation,
  2. spatial segregation at the city scale, 
  3. the role of local community and civil society in, and individual's perception of, these urban processes.

The Contested Urbanism Project launched a film 'Learning from Jerusalem'. The film uses space syntax methods to analyse some of the main changes in Jerusalem’s twentieth century history. It focuses on the city's shifting borders, politics, demography, religion, planning and public transport.


Lead Researchers

Dr. Jonathan Rokem 
UCL, Space Syntax Lab, Bartlett School of Architecture
View Jonathan's profile
Send Jonathan an email

Prof. Laura Vaughan
UCL, Space Syntax Lab, Bartlett School of Architecture
View Laura's profile
Send Laura an email

Research Assistants

Dr. Sadaf Sultan Kahn
UCL, Space Syntax Lab, Bartlett School of Architecture

Chun Wing Fok 
UCL, Space Syntax Lab, Bartlett School of Architecture


Prof. Lars Marcus 
Chalmers, Sweden
View Lars' profile

Dr. Ann Legeby 
KTH, Sweden
View Ann's profile

Dr. Gillad Rosen   
HUJI, Department of Geography

Project Academic Expert Committee

Dr. Camillo Boano, UCL, Bartlett Development Planning Unit
Dr. Sonia Arbaci, UCL, Bartlett School of Planning
Prof. Matthew Carmona, UCL, Bartlett School of Planning
Prof. Matthew Gandy, University of Cambridge, Department of Geography
Prof. Jennifer Robinson, UCL, Department of Geography
Prof. Fran Tonkiss, London School of Economics, Cities Programme



Academic workshop: the plan is to hold a structured workshop on the subject of ‘Contested Urbanism’.

Contested Urbanism open day: the general public will be invited to visit the host Institution’s, to see the project research results and talk to the researchers.

- Policy:

the final outcomes will be summarized into a set of policy recommendations to be widely distributed to EU institutions engaged in urban policy and to national and local planning authorities, especially those in Sweden and Israel.

- Civil society:

The project’s final recommendations will be disseminated to the local communities and civil society groups, especially in the selected case study cities via the project web portal.

- Academic:

publications of project findings in leading academic journals and presentation at workshops, seminars and international conferences.


New Knowledge; from a theoretical angle the research will produce essential new knowledge regarding patterns of ethnic settlement and interaction. The intention is to open up the current debate which tends to focus on a small number of cities labelled as 'divided cities' and overlooks the need to look at urban segregation in a wider comparative perspective. The project not only seeks to tackle this lacuna in the research but to also take an additional step by critically addressing the conceptual division between different categories and labels attributed to cities (i.e. divided, contested, polarized, mixed etc.).

New Methods; a conceptualization and analysis of the formation of the urban segregation process as a set of interrelated 'actions' and 'actors', the comparative analysis of urban segregation policies, the experimentation with innovative methods of spatial analysis. However, it is expected that an even greater potential for innovation lies in the articulation of all of these separate contributions together, into a multidisciplinary, spatial and reflexive critique of contested urbanism and urban segregation in different cities that will be valuable to policy makers, practitioners and local communities themselves.