Prof. Z. Hemel

Professor Spatial redevelopment and revitalization of rural and urban regions, especially in the provinces of Groningen and Friesland.
Department of Urbanism

What future awaits the countryside? This question forms the starting point for the research conducted by spatial planner Zef Hemel. He connects 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. 

Together with two postdoc researchers and his students in Groningen and Delft, Hemel explores the spatial perspectives for the rural areas where the combination of local towns and cities and agricultural countryside has great potential.

Zef Hemel (born in 1957) is a spatial planner. From 2012 to 2022, he occupied the Wibaut chair for Urban Affairs 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’ (‘Once Upon a Time in Amsterdam’) was published 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.

Zef Hemel fulfils 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. He will be present at both universities for one day per week, working together with the current staff.

More information

Funding chair: 

  • Ir. Abe Bonnema Foundation

Zef Hemel