Student information

MSc thesis subject: Spatial Dimensions of the Moving City of Amsterdam

The topic of Health is a big issue for a city like Amsterdam. A vital city requires a healthy and active population. This can be strongly influenced by the way we design and construct the (urban) habitat.

We know that both the natural and built environment are of importance for the way people feel and behave. However, there are still a lot of questions as to what it is exactly that motivates, challenges and seduces people to use their environment in an active way. There is still a lot to be found out with respect to the patterns and relations between the spatial characteristics (of the urban habitat) and human behaviour.
It’s important to get a better understanding of these patterns and relations, thus providing policy makers and urban planners with proper information to improve the design of urban habitats in order to stimulate active and healthy behaviour. The topic of the relation between spatial characteristics and active & healthy behaviour is very topical in the city of Amsterdam and other cities all over the world. Some of the world’s most pressing health challenges – such as obesity, mental health issues, physical inactivity and the needs of an ageing population – can all be influenced by the way we design our cities.

One of the ‘founding fathers’ of this field of research is Jan Gehl.

An interesting project is that of Citieschangingdiabetes

In the USA there is currently quite some attention for the concept of Walkability. More Walkable environments are regarded as more attractive, both socially and economically. and

A recent project from WUR students that was very well received in Amsterdam was the project of Running Amsterdam by

Amsterdam is currently participating in a WHO programme aiming to become an Age Friendly City. This means that all age groups (including elderly people) have to be able to manoeuvre as easy as possible through the city. (How) can Geo-Information techniques help to detect obstacles and find solutions?


  • Using Geo-Information Science (techniques) to develop a better understanding of the relation between spatial characteristics (of the urban habitat) and human feelings and behaviour.
  • Develop methods / techniques / tools that can be (easily) used and implemented by city-planners in order to get to grips with the relation Space – Human behaviour - Health
  • Translate findings into ‘handelingsperspectieven / aanknopingspunten’ for policy-makers, (urban) planners, designers to improve the urban habitat for human species
  • Translate ‘old techniques’ (Gehl – ‘How to study public life’ / William H. Whyte, the social life of small urban spaces) into modern tools


  • Jan Gehl: Cities for People
  • William H. Whyte – The social life of small urban spaces (also on YouTube).
  • Jeff Speck – The walkable City
  • The WalkScore
  • S+RO 01 – 2016 – De Gezonde Stad
  • Projects for Public Spaces –
  • Bewegen moet beloond worden -

Theme(s): Modelling & visualisation, Human – space interaction