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Rapid Planning Studio

A workshop for effective and integrated urban planning in periods of rapid growth.





Studies, Research, and Capacity Building

Project Details


  • Tacloban, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Silay, Manila (The Philippines)
  • Nampula, Nacala (Mozambique)
  • Kigali, Nyagatare, Rubavu (Rwanda)
  • Nakuru, Naivasha, Diani, Nairobi, Kisumu (Kenya)


  • Consultancy



  • UN - Habitat



What is it about?

To make planning processes more implementable, an integrated, trans-sectoral approach is necessary. In response, UN-Habitat proposes three operational enablers: urban planning & design, urban legislation, and urban finance & economy (the Three-Pronged Approach or 3PA). This approach supports the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 11 (“make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”), and the objectives and principles of the New Urban Agenda.

Together with colleagues from Urban Planning and Design branch at UN-Habitat, Thomas Stellmach has been involved in translating this approach into a workshop method for plan development and implementation of city extensions called the Rapid Planning Studio (RPS).

Workshop in Rwanda

The RPS method has been developed, evolved, and tested during the cooperation between the Urban Planning and Design Branch, the Urban Economy Branch and the Urban Legislation Unit of UN Habitat within the framework of the ‘Achieving Sustainable Urban Development’ (ASUD).

Some elements of the workshop have evolved from the “urban planning for city leaders” trainings, others draw on the methodological approach developed as part of the ASUD programme.

Aim: Integrated Planning Throughout All Scales

A workshop that integrates urban legislation, urban finance, and urban design for sustainable urban development.

To improve plan implementation, this method promotes integrated planning throughout all scales, considering legal, planning, and financial aspects together: this is the Three-Pronged Approach.

It aims to strengthen planning capacity and to provide a straightforward planning methodology and actionable roadmap to supply serviced land for rapid urban growth.

Full Planning Process - From Start to End

The RPS is a three-day simulation of a full planning process that usually takes 6-18 months. Each of the planning steps are addressed and discussed, from initial assessment to plan implementation. The outcome of each integrated exercise forms the base of the next exercise and planning step.

The RPS does not produce ‘correct’ plans, but rather gives participating municipalities an overview over good planning processes and allows them to identify gaps and challenges in their existing planning system.

Planning Process Outline

The workshop harnesses the knowledge, talent, and zeal of all parties involved to identify an achievable process towards sustainable urban development.