PhD research



The Transition towards Beneficial Area Development:

An investigation on how an area could be beneficial for its surroundings

This research combines knowledge from two seemingly disparate approaches together to relate and address beneficial thinking in area development processes. These approaches are Sustainability Transitions (e.g. Grin et. al. 2010) and the Cradle to Cradle design paradigm (McDonough & Braungart, 2002; 2013). I combine these approaches into a beneficial approach to develop urban areas that create more social, cultural, ecological and economic ‘benefits’ than they consume, on an increasing spatial scale. The main research question is: “How can areas be developed to be beneficial for their stakeholders and their surroundings; and how could this contribute to the current societal challenges?”

Framework (top-view)


The framework aims to support a participatory process by visualizing the perspectives of the involved actors in the development of a beneficial vision, agenda and projects that optimize and maximize values through combining the perspectives in intelligent design. The perspectives are visualized in  in the three-dimensional tetrahedron by the red, green and blue arrow. The goal of a Beneficial Area Development is to create healthy areas that generate values which benefit society.

001 fractal zijaanzichten EEE

Framework (side-view)


The themes for which values are created through the integration of the perspectives are: Biodiversity, water quality, Air quality, Soil quality and Agriculture, Material quality, Energy, Hard Infrastructure, Facilities and Leisure, Social infrastructure, Culture, Spatial quality and Urban Design, and Governance. Every theme has a different scale on which the values can be created supported by a roadmap that sets the milestones for enlarging the scale of benefits through time. These milestones are reached by reducing their negative impact while at the same time maximizing their positive impact.

2016-05-03 scales of impact



This research is funded by the Rotterdam Sustainability Initiative (RSI).


L.M. Lodder1,2

1 Erasmus University Rotterdam, DRIFT – Dutch Research Institute For Transitions, Faculty of Social Sciences, The Netherlands.

2 Rotterdam School of Management Erasmus University, Cradle-to-Cradle Chair for Innovation and Quality, The Netherlands.

supervisors: prof. dr. M. Braungart2, prof. dr. ir. J. Rotmans1, prof. dr. D. Loorbach1


Grin, J., et al. (2010). Transitions to sustainable development; new directions in the study of long term transformative change. New York: Routledge.

McDonough, W., & Braungart, M. (2002). Design for the triple top line: New tools for sustainable commerce. Corporate Environmental Strategy, 9(3), 251-258.

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CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.