Prof. Dr. Astrid Ley

course director IUSD in Stuttgart

Astrid Ley studied architecture and urban design at RWTH Aachen and the Università degli Studi di Firenze in Italy. She holds a degree as graduate engineer in architecture and urban design from RWTH Aachen and a P.hD from TU Berlin. Her professional life started as a project coordinator at the “Bundesweite Servicestelle Lokale Agenda 21”, Agenda-Transfer, in Bonn before joining Habitat Unit, TU Berlin, between 2003 and 2013 as a teaching and research staff member. In 2010 she had a DAAD lectureship position at the School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Recently she held a position as urban development research analyst at the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) and as a Post Doc researcher in a DFG funded research project on “Housing for the Urban Poor: From Local Action to Global Networks” at Habitat Unit, TU Berlin. Since October 2014 she is chair for international urbanism at the Institute for Urban Planning and Design, University of Stuttgart, and will take over the position as course director of the MSc. IUSD program. In her understanding it needs the development of a changed role of built environment practitioners as process designers in order to be able to include a network of actors. This will be central to develop solutions in complex problem constellations such as apparent in the international urban development context.

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Salheen

course dircector IUSD in Cairo

Mohamed Salheen obtained his BSc in Urban Planning and Design in 1993 from Ain Shams University, Cairo. He was appointed as teaching staff at the department and later received a PhD scholarship to obtain his PhD in Urban Design from Edinburgh College of Art, UK in 1997 with a thesis on “Comprehensive Analysis Approaches in Urban Settings”. From 2001 until 2014 he acted as an assistant and associate professor at Ain Shams University teaching and supervising multidisciplinary topics. Developing a clear research line in the field of Integrated Planning and Design, he then became the first professor of Integrated Planning and Design in Egypt. To develop this research field Salheen had to develop various research lines at different levels ranging from Architectural Design to Regional Planning with diverse topics ranging from spatial Analysis to socioeconomic and cultural aspects, yet all focused on the intermediate gaps and Integrated Solutions. He has coordinated several international cooperation projects with Universities in Germany, Sweden, Austria and Denmark. He is a member of the EU Higher Education reform Experts (HEREs) Team, contributing to various workshops and seminars on internationalization and harmonization of Higher Education. Salheen is also active in practice and consultation working with GIZ, UN-Habitat, UNEP and UNDP as well as other national and regional organizations in the fields of strategic, environmental and integrated planning and design.

Prof. Dr. Leonie Fischer

course director IUSD in Stuttgart

Since October 2019, Leonie Fischer is chair of the Institute of Landscape Planning and Ecology at the University of Stuttgart.

Before, Leonie Fischer worked as scientist at the Chair of Ecosystem Science/Plant Ecology, Technische Universität Berlin. She completed her PhD thesis in 2012 on “Urban meadows: biodiversity patterns and restoration potential” within the Graduate School Urban Ecology Berlin, together with Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. Her professional background is in Landscape Planning and Landscape Architecture, including a final thesis on the “Ecological impacts of the introduced quinine tree (Cinchona spp.) in Hawai'i”.

Her scientific focus is especially on the ecology of human-influenced habitats in both tropical and moderate regions, including urban ecology and urban restoration. Leonie Fischer also works on a deeper understanding on how people value urban nature, and what influences their attitudes. Basic part of her research work is its practical orientation and application.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. habil. Jörn Birkmann

Since October 2014 Joern Birkmann is chair of the Institute of Spatial  and Regional Planning at the University of Stuttgart. Prior to this he headed the section Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Management and Adaptive Planning at the United Nations University, Institute for Environment and Human Security (2017-2014), held a temporary Professorship at the University of Munich (October 2012 – April 2013) and was appointed Scientific Advisor at the United Nations University (2004 – 2007). From 1999 – 2004 Joern Birkmann held the position of Researcher and Lecturer at the Faculty of Spatial Planning at the University of Dortmund.
In 2003 Joern Birkmann was awarded the degree of Dr.-Ing. (PhD. in Engineering) by the University of Dortmund and in2009 he completed his Post-doctoral study (Habilitation) in the field of “Geography”, at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Bonn.
In addition to questions of spatial planning and spatial governance, Joern Birkmann has conducted research on vulnerability and risk research as well as adaptation to climate change. He is the coordinating lead author for the sixth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Birkmann's research focuses, among other things, on new methods for dealing with the challenges of social change and environmental change in selected regions and cities of the global North and South . In current research projects he is investigating, for example, the resilience and adaptive capacities of cities to heavy precipitation and heat and spatial development trends in Baden-Württemberg. Joern Birkmann has published over 100 articles and various books in international journals such as Nature.

MSc. Shaharin Annisa

course coordinator, lecturer IUSD Stuttgart

Shaharin Elham Annisa was born in Bangladesh but grew up in Oman, completing her Bachelor’s degree at the German University of Technology (GUtech) in Oman, studying Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD).She joined the UPAD department at GUtech after her graduation and worked as a teaching and research assistant for two years. Her bachelor thesis focused on creating a series of public squares at the city center of Al Buraimi (a border city of Oman). Furthermore she was involved in the design, construction and monitoring phase of Gutech’s Eco friendly house; a result of a competition which her team of students, academic staff and consultants had the opportunity to receive funds to win and construct. She finished her Master’s degree in University of Stuttgart in the program Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable design (IUSD) research on understanding the spatial effects of migration and livelihood of Bangladeshi immigrants in Oman (Gulf context). During her master studies she was part of the EZBET project based in Cairo working on the development of informal settlements. Her interests lie in earthen construction, urban informality and migration studies.

Dipl.Ing. Ute Vees

Ute Vees holds a diploma in architecture from University of Stuttgart. She is a lecturer and researcher at the department for International Urbanism. She previously worked in teaching and research at the Chair of Urban Design, Stuttgart State Academy of Arts (ABK) , at the Professorship of Green Technologies for Landscape Architecture, Technical University of Munich and at the Institute for Principles of Modern Architecture (IGMA), University of Stuttgart. Within the last years she taught several seminars, design studios and summer schools in various contexts and supported in building networks with universities, particularly on the African continent. During her time at ABK she led the project “The Role of Higher Education in Urban Design in the Context of Rapid Urbanization” funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts (MWK).
She has worked and collaborated with architecture and planning offices in process-oriented and participatory projects and has experience in designing, organizing and implementing integrated collaborative planning processes. Her research and interest include co-productive and strategic urbanism as well as the relation between society and nature in the context of rural-urban transformations. Thus, her PhD is looking at human-nature relationships in Sub-Saharan Africa, taking a medium-sized town in Ethiopia as a case study.
At the department for International Urbanism Ute Vees teaches in the international master’s program Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design (IUSD) and coordinates the DAAD funded project `SDGs GoGlocal! Translocal and transdisciplinary teaching and research to ground the SDGs through integrated urban development ` as a project between Windhoek, Cairo and Stuttgart.

Dr. Ing. Sigrid Busch

Dr.-Ing. Sigrid Busch is a senior researcher and architect at the Institute of Urban Planning, University of Stuttgart, Germany. She studied at the HFT Stuttgart, the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle in Paris, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Stuttgart. After completing her degree in Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Stuttgart in 2000, she worked in planning offices in Germany and the Netherlands. In 2013, she obtained her doctoral degree on the topic of “new forms of public-private cooperation for inner city masterplan processes”.

Her research interests include local governance structures and the interplay of stakeholders from the private sector, civil society and the political-administrative level. The focus of her work in research and teaching is on strategic planning and sustainable urban development. As head of the Media Laboratory at the Institute of Urban Planning and Design, she addresses the topics of digital simulation and visualization in urban planning which gain relevance in connection with an increasingly participatory approach to planning.

In the context of research, she has contributed to the Realworld Laboratory for a Sustainable Mobility Culture (funded by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts) that aims to enhance the cultural dimension of sustainable mobility and investigates the role local citizens can play in actively shaping and enabling this process through social innovations. As a collaborating partner of the IER and ZIRIUS, she was also involved in exploring the spatial dimension of the Energy Transition in Germany exemplified by the Stuttgart Neckar Valley area. Within the project „WECHSEL“ – run under the BMBF research framework program FONA3 – the reconfiguration of energy infrastructure was examined in order to harness the potential for a high-quality urban and landscape development alongside the river bank.

MSc. Els Keunen

Els joined the Department of International Urbanism at the University of Stuttgart as lecturer and researcher in October 2023. She is teaching courses on Urban Planning; Methods and Tools; and Critical Perspectives. She is also involved in the EU-funded DASH project on delivering safe and social housing.
Before joining the institute, Els worked as advisor citizen participation in the Programme for Municipal Development implemented by the German Development Agency (GIZ) in Cameroon. She worked with three civil society organisations in Littoral and South West Regions to improve citizen participation in municipal budgeting and infrastructure management. Concurrently, she carried out field work for her PhD research which focuses on housing pathways of tenants in Douala.
Between 2015 and 2021, Els worked as Urban Planning Expert at the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. At IHS, Els was teaching in the Master Programme Urban Management and Development, was engaged in various research projects, did consultancy assignments and co-developed and implemented various short trainings. Between 2010 and 2014, Els advised 3 municipalities in the centre of Mozambique in the area of urban planning. Before Mozambique, she worked for over 2 years in Uganda through the Belgian Development Agency (BTC, now Enabel). She was part of the Kampala Integrated Environmental Planning and Management Project (KIEMP), an urban upgrading project in 3 neighbourhoods in Kampala.
Els holds a Master’s degree in Architecture and an Additional Master’s degree in Cultures and Development Studies.

Dr. Manuel Heckel

Manuel holds a PhD in Urban Studies and Planning from the University of Sheffield, UK. His research looked at the commercialisation of development funding in basic services sectors, focusing on trends in the Kenyan water sector to ‘blend’ public funds with commercial finance and ‘unlock’ capital market investments to mobilise private resources for infrastructure development. Manuel’s research interests are development finance and financialisation, infrastructure and basic services (especially water and sanitation), and increasingly (urban) development norms endorsement and enforcement. More generally, he is interested in social ontology and the nature and role of finance and infrastructure in urban transformation processes.

Previously, Manuel completed his M.Sc. IUSD studies in Stuttgart and Cairo, writing his Master’s dissertation on the political economy of Cairo’s urban growth. He worked with GIZ in Bonn and Chisinau, inter alia on municipal finance and improving basic services delivery.

Dipl.-Ing. Christian Degenhardt

Christian Degenhardt is a teaching and research staff member at the Chair for Building Technology and Climate Responsive Design led by Prof. Dipl.-Ing. M. Rudolph at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design (ABK), in the department of architecture.

Since 2021 he is part of the research team on Convertible Urban Shades - investigating the potential and implementation strategies of moveable tensile morphologies in order to adapt the microclimate of urban environments with the goal to increase outdoor comfort and mitigate the effects of climate change in Stuttgart.

Christian Degenhardt teaches Sustainable Architecture 1 in the IUSD program since 2017 and has been teaching master’s and bachelor’s courses at the ABK Stuttgart in the field of sustainable architecture since 2014 with the focus on climate responsive design, integrated design process and daylight in architecture.

From 2011-2016 he worked at Transsolar Energietechnik GmbH in Stuttgart, from 2013 to 2016 as an education program director of the TranssolarAcademy. He was assigned to develop, introduce and implement the unique in-house educational program which offers a one year fellowship to gain knowledge and experience in KlimaEngineering.

Christian Degenhardt studied architecture at RWTH Aachen and holds a degree as graduate engineer in architecture. In 2009 he started his practical experience at Holzhüter Architektur and Holzbau GmbH in Aachen, from detail planing to completion of modern wooden constructions. Since 2012 he is working with Jan-André Meyer Architekten as an independent design architect. 

MSc. Jesús Antonio Martínez Zárate

Degree in Architecture in Mexico City (2009).

Jesús Martínez Zárate worked in different architecture and urban planning offices with focus on mobility in Mexico City (2009 -2014).

From 2014 to 2016, he studied M.Sc. Integrated Urbanism and Sustainable Design (IUSD) at the University of Stuttgart. In his master's thesis, he addressed the issue of reclaiming public space through reallabors and participatory processes.

Since 2017, he has been working in different offices in Stuttgart. He has co-developed parallel projects that invite debate on the reclamation of public space: CASA Schützenplatz (since 2016) and Wanderbaumallee Stuttgart (since 2019).

Since June 2021 he teaches the course 'City and Landscape' at ILPÖ, which deals with the interface between architecture and ecology.


Assoc. Prof. Dr. Yehya Serag

Yehya Serag received a Bachelor degree in Architecture with a major in Urban Planning and Design from Ain Shams University, Cairo. He, then, obtained his MA in human settlements (PGCHS – Catholic University of Leuven) as well as a Post Graduate Certificate in spatial and regional planning after completing the European Module for spatial development and planning (New Castle University). He graduated with a PhD on the topic “Networking and networks as tools for regional development and planning: Human settlements’ development potentialities in the Western part of Egypt” from the department of Architecture, spatial planning and landscape (Catholic University of Leuven). Since April 2014, Serag holds the position of an associate professor of urban and regional planning at the Department of Urban Planning and Design at Ain Shams University. Starting from December 2010, he coordinates the MSc IUSD. He is currently interested in the impact of politics on urbanism as a new line of research, as well as , urban and regional strategic planning and development.


IUSD Office
University of Stuttgart

Keplerstr. 11, 70174 Stuttgart, University of Stuttgart
Faculty of Architecture and Urban Design


IUSD Office
Ain Shams University Cairo

1 El-Sarayat Street, 11517 Abbasiya, Cairo, Ain Shams University
Faculty of Engineering

To the top of the page