Prof. Dr. Zepf Marcus

École D'Urbanisme de Paris (Université Paris Est Créteil/Université Paris Est Marne-la-Vallée)

My research work can be illustrated as follows:

• The renewal of spatial planning instruments

Since 2000, the work of scientific communities highlight the limits of the traditional prescribed procedures for spatial planning and appeal for a shift to more inclusive and incremental processes (Dumont, 2013) based on the combination of legal and informal instruments (Chemin Le Piolet, 2016; Zepf, Andres, 2014). The new toolbox of instruments has to respond to the need of:
- complex spatial diagnosis able to reveal more efficiently both quantitative and qualitative territorial data (open source data, big data, social media data, interactive interface data, etc.);
- vectors for visualisation, communication, shared knowledge (participation, public debate, life-long learning)
- formal and informal instruments able to evolve and to adapt to territorial dynamics and to deal with uncertainty (“Plan guide”, “Leitbild”, “Rahmenplan”, Territorial Coordination Plan SCOT, etc.)

Corresponding research questions are for example:
- How to deal with growing importance of territorial diagnosis in relation to the constraints of political and administrational temporalities?
- How to adapt the process of planning and implementation to territories in permanent transformation?

• Urban and industrial ecology re-interpreted in the light of technical and social innovations

Landscape is an issue to consider on national, regional and local level (as an example: protecting national resources for agriculture, tourism and climate on one side and developing ecological engineering for local biodiversity on the other side) (Zepf, 2015). The traditional approaches of ecology in spatial planning aiming to the reduction of environmental danger are about to be replaced by a more integrative vision. For instance, by the French concept of “Habitabilité” (Blanc, 2010), combining technical aspects (reduction of pollution, improving climate, enhancing biodiversity, etc.) with social aspects of well-being and resilience.

Corresponding research question are for example:
- How can the principles of urban and industrial ecology be operational in spatial planning?
- What are the precise technical, spatial and social factors to be used in spatial planning for an efficient ecology (for instance the link of water phytoremediation and well-being factors of waterfront)?

• Re-organisation of infrastructure systems (mobility, communication, energy) in relation to demographical, spatial and economic dynamics

The urgent need of infrastructure renewal is related to new links between the spatial scale, especially by innovative interfaces among housing, public space, urban facilities and mobility (smart living lab, 2016; Graham, Marvin, 2001). In addition to technical infrastructure, socio-spatial organisation, in terms of systems of proximity become more and more important for communication and for amenities and information accessibility. Spatial planning has therefore to include the potential of territorial social capital (Sloterdijk, 2005) and propose new concept of socio-spatial organization (Zepf, 2009). That kind of territorial re-organization can help to create new centralities (Rozenblatt, 2007) and adapt systems of fluxes (goods, mobility and information) in a more efficient way (Zepf, 2004b).

Corresponding research question are for example:

- How will demographical changes and the transformation of urban lifestyles affect the organisation of network infrastructure?
- To what extend spatial economic development (location of economic activities) can be matched with the creation of new centralities and the adaptation of network infrastructure?

- Participatory planning reconsidered as a permanent planning process leading to shared knowledge culture

Due to the increase in democratization of territorial collective action, today the success of planning is more and more dependent on a generalized culture of public debate and the social acceptance of spatial interventions. A genuine culture of permanent public space of “intersubjectivity” (Habermas, 1988), and responsibility (Jonas, 1990) cannot be created instantly by decree. The communication and learning process is to be implemented slowly between different groups of actors by incremental steps of trial and error (Zepf, 2017). This kind of exploratory process can be compared to the permanent work in laboratory where reflexion, debate and decision making allow the realization of planning projects without disturbing the dynamic of the long-term process (Zepf 2004a). This strategy of permanent participatory process anchored in the local culture can help to give collective action of spatial planning stronger legitimacy and better credibility. A genuine Permanent Process of planning cannot be conceived without progressive evolution, realized in an incremental and experimental way. Furthermore, the idea of permanent process excludes the pretention of achieving best and definitive solutions. In fact, it is about rapid facilitation and concrete spatial intervention where consensus is the result of permanent culture of public debate.

Corresponding research question are for example:
- The concept of permanent process in planning leads to the question of ponderation in each special case of planning, if the realization of spatial intervention is more important than continuing public debate or if finding democratic consensus is more appropriate?
- How can contemporary planning instruments be transformed in order to integrate experimental approaches, informal processes?
- What type of methodological approaches can help to better understand emerging factors of urban and territorial well-being?


Prof. Dr. Zepf Marcus
14-20 Boulevard Newton
77454 Marne-La-Vallée

Prof. Dr. Zepf Marcus