Erwin Heurkens

I am an assistant professor in Urban Development Management (UDM) at the department of Management in the Built Environment (MBE), Delft University of Technology (TUD). My home base is the city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, and I am a sports enthusiast mainly active in cycling and hiking. This website illustrates the variety of academic (published) work since the start of my career in 2008.

Interests and expertise

Urban development management; Urban transformation; Real estate development; Public/private partnerships; International comparative studies, Financing instruments; Governance and planning; Corporate social/environmental responsibility; Sustainability and circular economy; Transitions and behavior.

Fascination and ambition

In my research I study the changing roles and relationships between the state and the market, or public and private actors, in shaping and delivering urban places. This involves understanding the connection between institutional environment and urban projects, linking planning policies to market decisions, as well as framing the roles of and interactions between private sector actors (developers, investors, corporations, communities) and public organizations (local planning authorities) in delivering urban projects. Particularly, I am fascinated by the role the private sector actors such as real estate developers and investors increasingly perform in making our real estate, urban places and cities more sustainable. In brief, my ambition is to comprehend private sector decision-making logics and business drivers for developing and investing in sustainable urban projects, as well as the role public authorities can play to incentivize and stimulate ‘sustainable private-led urban development‘ practices and behavior.

International research activities

I have a particular interest and wide experience in international comparative research (mainly in Anglo-Saxon countries, UK, US, AUS, CAN, HK). My international visiting scholarship and research activities include the University of Technology Sydney (NUS), University of Birmingham (UoB), University of Hong Kong (HKU), National Taipei University (NUT), University of Southern California (USC), National University of Singapore (NUS), and University of the West of England (UWE). Moreover, I co-organized and guided a variety of study trips to London, Liverpool, Manchester, Vancouver, San Francisco, New York, Dehli and Mumbai. Fueled by this international comparative work, I have edited two international books on Real Estate Development for Routledge.

Professional research projects

Over the years I have conducted a variety of professional research for Dutch companies, ministries and municipalities. This included advising the Rotterdam municipality on city development matters including facilitative planning, urban manufacturing, entrepreneur/civil-led urban development. Also I have conducted research for Dutch Ministries including alternative financing of urban development, new forms of public-private partnerships. Currently, I am contributing to the public/private-funded programme Urban Transformations.

Academic research projects

A couple of sustainability and circular economy based funded research projects have been part of my academic work over the years. For instance, I conducted international research on sustainable private sector-led urban development as part of the UKNA project (2013-2014). Also, I participated in the EU H2020 research project REPAiR (2016-2020), focusing on multi-actor governance of a circular built environment. Currently, I am taking part in the NWO funded TranCiBo project (2020-2024), studying the behavioral (inter-)organizational change needed to accelerate the transition towards a Dutch circular construction practice.


In my education, I focus on interdisciplinary and blended and online learning courses, at all levels of university teaching. I contribute to a number of courses at the Delft University of Technology. At the BSc level, for a number of years, I have coordinated and now teach in the course Urban Management and Redevelopment. At the MSc level, I guide group work in the Urban Redevelopment Game course. My role in the post-initial Master City Developer course centers around the coordination of the Urban International Development module. Additionally, I developed and tutored the online MOOC course Managing Building Adaptation: A Sustainable Approach.

Key Publications

  • Mens, J., Van Bueren, E., Vrijhoef, R., & Heurkens. E. (2021). A typology of social entrepreneurs in bottom-up urban development. Cities. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2020.103066.
  • Obersteg, A., Arlati, A., Acke, A., Berruti, G., Czapiewski, K., Dąbrowski, M., Heurkens, E., Mezei, C., Palestino, M.F., Varjú, V., Wójcik, M., & Knieling, J. (2019). Urban regions shifting to circular economy: Understanding challenges for new ways of governance. Urban Planning, 4 (3), 19-31. http://dx.doi.org/10.17645/up.v4i3.2158.
  • Chen, Y., Daamen, T., Heurkens, E., & Verheul, W.J. (2019). Interdisciplinary learning and practice-theory integration: Experiences from urban development management education. International Journal of Technology & Design Education, 30 (5), 919-936. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-019-09541-5.
  • Petersen, J.-P., & Heurkens, E. (2018). Implementing energy policies in urban development projects: The role of public planning authorities in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. Land Use Policy, 76, 275-289. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2018.05.004.
  • Squires, G., Heurkens, E. & Peiser, R. (eds.) (2018). Routledge Companion to Real Estate Development. London: Routledge.
  • Squires, G. & Heurkens, E. (2016). Methods and models for international comparative approaches to real estate development. Land Use Policy, 50, 573-581.
  • Squires, G. & Heurkens, E. (eds.) (2015). International Approaches to Real Estate Development. London, Routledge.
  • Heurkens, E., Adams, D. & Hobma, F. (2015). Planners as market actors: The role of local planning authorities in the UK’s urban regeneration practice. Town Planning Review, 86 (6), 625-650.
  • Heurkens, E. & Hobma, F. (2014). Private sector-led urban development projects: Comparative insights from planning practices in the Netherlands and the UK. Planning Practice and Research, 29 (4), 350-369.
  • Heurkens, E. (2012). Private Sector-led Urban Development Projects: Management, Partnerships and Effects in the Netherlands and the UK. A+BE, 4, Delft, Delft University of Technology.

Contact details

Dr Erwin Heurkens MSc
Erwin HeurkensAssistant Professor Urban Development Management

TU Delft | Delft University of Technology
Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Department of Management in the Built Environment
Julianalaan 134 | 2628 BL Delft
P.O. Box 5043 | 2600 GA Delft
Nederland | The Netherlands
M | e.w.t.m.heurkens@tudelft.nl
L | nl.linkedin.com/erwinheurkens
W | www.erwinheurkens.com
T | @eheurkens