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Zef Hemel appointed professor at the UG and TU Delft

New chair position created by the Ir. Abe Bonnema Foundation
21 April 2022

Spatial planner Zef Hemel will be appointed professor by special appointment  at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen and the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) as from 1 May. He will occupy the Bonnema chair position, a new chair by special appointment created by the Ir. Abe Bonnema Foundation. The formal assignment is as follows: Spatial redevelopment and revitalization of rural and urban regions, especially in the provinces of Groningen and Friesland.

Zef Hemel (photo: Jan-Kees Steenman)
Zef Hemel (photo: Jan-Kees Steenman)

What future awaits the countryside? This question forms the starting point for the research conducted by spatial planner Zef Hemel. With his appointment to the Bonnema chair, he wants to connect the past and the future of the countryside. He plans on doing so by conducting interdisciplinary research in which history and local culture and design will play a connecting role. The inhabitants of the area can and must take an active part in the research.

Potential of the city and the surrounding areas

Together with two postdoc researchers and his students in Groningen and Delft, Hemel wants to explore the spatial perspectives for the rural areas where the combination of local towns and cities and agricultural countryside has great potential. The Northern Netherlands seems to be a great fit for such an experiment. ‘This part of the country is just far enough from the expanded and mostly suburban Randstad area. In Groningen and Leeuwarden, the roots of the population are strong and this, together with the prominent local culture, forms an attractive world by itself’, Hemel explains.

Appointments in Delft and Groningen

The professor by special appointment will be appointed for a period of five years. He will fulfil 0.2 FTE at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of Delft University of Technology and 0.2 FTE at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Groningen. Hemel will be present at both universities for one day per week, working together with the current staff. Moreover, the Bonnema Foundation will finance two postdoc positions of 1.0 FTE for two years each at both universities.

About Zef Hemel

Zef Hemel (born in 1957) is a spatial planner. From 2012 to 2022, he occupied the Wibaut chair for Urban Issues at the University of Amsterdam. Hemel studied Social Geography and Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Groningen. In addition to his academic work, he is employed by the Municipality of Amsterdam. Last year, Hemel’s newest book Er was eens een stad (‘There once was a city’) was published (by Pluim publishing house), in which he discusses the journey towards new spatial planning: visionary planning.

Ir. Abe Bonnema Foundation

The creation of this chair position was proposed by the Ir. Abe Bonnema Foundation, which manages the legacy of the Frisian architect Abe Bonnema (1926–2001). The Foundation aims at broadening and increasing the insights and the knowledge of modern architecture and art, as well as supporting sociocultural projects. In this way, the annual Abe Bonnema Award contributes to Dutch architecture. The creation of the Bonnema chair is based on a thorough analysis of the architect Bonnema’s vision on the spatial potential of regional urban centres and surrounding rural areas, specifically in the provinces of Friesland and Groningen, where Bonnema lived and worked.

Last modified:21 April 2022 12.49 p.m.
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