Joris M.J. Scheers

Spatial Planner and Sociologist (PhD, MSc) - Visiting Professor at KU Leuven - Honorary President ECTP-CEU - Project Manager Flanders Government

Joris is professionally active in the field of urban development, spatial planning, architecture & heritage and public governance. For the last three decades he has been working as...
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Joris M.J. Scheers

Joris is professionally active in the field of urban development, spatial planning, architecture & heritage and public governance. For the last three decades he has been working as academic, as consultant and as civil servant. He obtained his PhD on the theme of exponentially growing cities in Latin America at the KU Leuven University (Belgium), where he is currently visiting professor. As former deputy Government Architect and Manager of creative and sustainable cities, he is involved in various urban and regional policy issues within the Flanders Government of Belgium.

Over the past decades, he performed as international consultant for spatial policy projects and programs in cities and countries in Latin-America, Africa and Asia. He has been UN-Habitat expert for the elaboration of International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning (2012-2014) and has been President and Secretary General of the European Council of Spatial Planners (ECTP-CEU).

As past president of the Association for Spatial Planning in Flanders (VRP), Joris is currently member of the advisory council. He drafted numerous papers on -strategic planning issues and chaired several jury’s in the field of spatial planning and architecture.
Joris is recognized for exploring strategic approaches within the public governance field, including cross level integration of local, regional, national and international agendas. He combines conceptual thinking with a pragmatic - project driven - problem solving attitude, keeping close touch with planning practice as the chair of the Municipal Spatial Planning Advisory Board of the city of Leuven.


The Coffee Network

This research on rapid urbanization processes in Latin America contains a territorial analysis of production, trade and consumption of coffee. It shows how economic and political networks of a global good influence local spatial structures. Based on original field research data, the interactions between local coffee production and trade and the changing urban and rural relations are studied. Joris Scheers conducted this research, titled ‘Coffee and the scent of the city’ as part of his PhD at KULeuven during the period 1990-2002.

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National Spatial Planning Policy in Ecuador.

The PlanTel project aims to achieve the strengthening of local and regional territorial planning in Ecuador through technical and methodological support. The Belgian NGO VVOB cooperated with AME, CONCOPE and the EPN University. Very interesting and mostly practical results were achieved, making spatial planning ranking high on the political agenda in Ecuador. Joris Scheers was involved since 2001 (initialization process), presented as key-note speaker at the ‘Encuentro Nacional de Planificación’ in Quito (2008) and acted as academic supervisor during the entire period of the project (2003-2010).

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Centre for Planning and Management

The Centro de Planificación y Gestión started up in 1999 as a cooperation between KULeuven University/VLIR (Belgium), and the Economy and Architecture faculties at UMSS University in Cochabamba (Bolivia). CEPLAG is now a renowned multi-disciplinary research institute. Together with a local crew and a local director, Joris Scheers launched this institute from scratch, he was part of the first ‘comité directorio’ and conducted several local research projects (1999-2002). He also set up a working paper publication line and published the first number.

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Sustainable Cities Programme in Senegal.

UN-HABITAT/UNEP commissioned a Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the 2004 -2007 phase of the Global Sustainable Cities Programme (SCP) and Localising Agenda 21 (LA21), in Senegal. In 2004, the IAGU, AMS and the Senegalese Ministry of Urbanism and Planning (MUAT) started a national program financed by the Belgian Cooperation in the cities of Louga Guédiawaye, Saint-Louis, Matam and Tivaouane. During January 2006, Joris Scheers, as MTR member, had intensive meetings and discussions with dozens of local actors, institutions and politicians; a final report was published.

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Evaluation UN-Habitat/UNEP's SCP

UN-HABITAT/UNEP commissioned a Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the Global Sustainable Cities Program (SCP) and Localising Agenda 21 (LA21) in Cuba. Bayamo, Holguin and Santa Clara were selected for review and on-site evaluation. Joris Scheers conducted this review from 15 to 21st January 2006 and edited the evaluation report. During the following years, Joris assisted several Master’s theses on urban planning issues in Bayamo (Cuba), e.a. those of Gertjan Dekrem, Julien Delmotte, Martin Noyez, Karen Schuermans and Hans Vanassche.

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Urban redevelopment advisor UN-HABITAT

Invited by the UN-Habitat Asian Branch and the Ministry of Public Works of Indonesia, Joris Scheers acted as urban planning advisor with several national organizations in May 2014. In Banjarmasin (Borneo), work sessions took place with the city planning office on the development plan of Banjarmasin and its insertion into the regional context. In Surabaya (Java), during meetings with the city of Surabaya Joris e.a. critically reviewed the proposal of introducing the KIP as good practice within the International Guidelines.

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Urban redevelopment in a megacity context

As the first phase of a sustainable urban revitalization process, the municipality of Tlalnepantla (northern area of Mexico city) requested ISOCARP to organize an Urban Planning Advisory Team to undertake an independent urban analysis and to articulate a clear urban vision for the integrated redevelopment of the central area of Tlalnepantla. Joris Scheers was member of the international advisory team and focused on urban mobility improvement strategies. A final document ‘Repensando La Tlalnepantla Central’ was produced.

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Environmental, Social & Spatial Impact Assessment

The borders of the 2000 ha large Ciénaga de la Virgin laguna north of Cartagena have been intensively urbanized since the early 20th century. As consequence untreated sewage water is deposited daily, creating large environmental and health problems for the surrounding urban residents. In 1995, Royal Haskoning of the Netherlands was commissioned an assessment and engaged Joris Scheers to take care of a general spatial development analysis of the spatial and social impacts of different possible technical solutions.

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Vaartkom Urban Redevelopment

The redevelopment project Vaartkom Leuven is a large-scale urban renewal project, transforming a 30 ha former industrial area into a mixed high density urban area: 2.200 housing units, 160.000 m² of trade and offices and 50.000 m² for culture and recreation. Joris Scheers designed and realized a spatial and social-economic analysis of the area (1986, KULeuven). As president of the Independent Municipal Advisory Council on Spatial Planning, he advised the redevelopment plans (2002-2012). Finally, he was member of the public space design jury for the area (2009).

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Tuurbus, environmental education project

The Tuurbus program introduced and encouraged environmental education in an attractive way in primary schools in the Dutch speaking part of Belgium. The King Baudouin Foundation converted a big truck into an exploration and experience space for children: they see, hear, smell and feel nature, they can make phone calls with a frog, caress a sheep, crawl on a garbage dump, stab their nose into a flower etc. Joris Scheers was the general manager of the project (1988-1990).

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Regional Spatial Development Policy

The Flanders regional government developed in the mid 1990’s a strategic spatial policy plan, called Ruimtelijk Structuurplan Vlaanderen. It was approved by parliament in 1997, together with a new planning legislation. Joris Scheers was part of the coordinating plangroep (1994-1997), conformed by KULeuven academics and practicioners. In 2010, a revision of the plan called Beleidsplan Ruimte started up. Joris chaired the Ambtelijk Forum, a policy committee integrating sectoral administrations. A green paper ‘Flanders in 2050: Human scale in a Metropolis?’ was approved in 2012.

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Public Real Estate Plan Flanders Region

A general real estate policy for all buildings, infrastructures and non-built plots Flanders’ government portfolio was approved in 2013. Objective: use the public authority’s properties actively as a strategic asset for its core businesses and general welfare of the Flemish society. A set of instruments like a Real Estate Forum, a global database of all public properties and sustainability criteria was developed. Joris Scheers was the general patrimonial policy manager for the 2007-2013 period.

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Elisabeth Concert Hall Antwerp

In 1897 a Great Concert Hall was built next to the Antwerp central station. The Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp commissioned in 2009 the Flanders Government Architect to organize a European open call in order to build a new concert hall. After the procedure, Ian Simpson design team (Manchester) and Kirkegaard Associates (Chicago) were chosen. The new Elisabeth Concert Hall will host the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (2017). Joris Scheers was deputy Flanders Government Architect between 2008-2010 and chaired the Open call jury on the Elisabeth Concert Hall in 2009.

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Archeological Management Policy Flanders

Following the 1992 Malta Convention, the Flanders government decided to develop a more integrated archeological policy approach, taking e.a. development and policy plans into account. On January 1st 2004, an archeological management policy administration was set in practice. By negotiating with developers and owners and applying quality rules for excavations, comprehensive records of archeological sites were made available within a restricted time frame. Joris Scheers was responsible director of the Heritage administration between 2003 and 2007 and promoter of this new archeological management policy.

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Reuse Religious Heritage

Today, there is a mismatch between the secularization process and the historical oversupply of parish churches in Flanders. Challenge: how to re-position ca. 2000 existing parish churches in the heart of local society? The Flanders minister of public affairs and interior commissioned in 2010 the administration to deliver a report on the topic. Joris Scheers chaired the working group, composed of bishops, local church councils, central church authorities, local communities and governments at different levels and edited the report ‘Aanbevelingen werkgroep (her-)bestemming en ruimtelijke inpassing parochiekerken.’ (2011).

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Opinion by Joris Scheers

Joris Scheers has seen up close the chaotic expansion of Latin America’s emerging mega-cities. The new president of the European Council of Spatial Planners tells David Blackman that he is determined to Help Europe find a balance between regulation and creativity in planning.

Read the article published in The Planner.

Read articles on reuse of religious heritage:

Article about AMUZ Antwerp.

Article 'Elk gebruik is tijdelijk'about reuse of parish churches in Flanders. (in Dutch).

Un-Habitat's 'International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning'

Urbanization is progressing rapidly and by 2050, seven out of ten people will be living in cities. Inappropriate policies, plans and designs have led to inadequate spatial distribution of people and activities, resulting in proliferation of slums, congestion, poor access to basic services, environmental degradation, and social inequity and segregation.Un-Habitat's 'International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning' serve both as a source of inspiration and a compass for decision makers and urban professionals when reviewing urban and territorial planning systems. Joris Scheers was one of the selected authors that wrote the Guidelines between 2012 and 2015. It can be considered as a global reference framework that promotes more compact, socially inclusive, better integrated and connected cities and territories that foster sustainable urban development and are resilient to climate change.

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