Habitat Unit

Associated Researcher

Dr. Sonja Nebel



Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Sonja Nebel started her career at RWTH Aachen, where she was teaching at the Institute for Urban and Regional Planning (Prof. em. Gerhard Curdes) with focus on urbanisation and housing in Africa, Asia, and Latin-America. After a 4 years DAAD Guest Professorship at the Faculty of Architecture, Damascus University in Syria she joined the Habitat Unit (Prof. Dr. Peter Herrle) in 2000. With a regional focus on MENA she carried out various exchange programs between Habitat Unit TU Berlin and universities in Egypt, Algeria, Syria et al. She furthermore coordinated the Dual Degree Urban Design Master Program in cooperation with Tongji University in Shanghai and contributed to the establishment of the Urban Managnement master program, where she is still running the course on city profiles for monitoring urban development.

Sonja Nebel went into various research activities, starting with a long term DFG research, a cross-cultural comparison on urban transformation of indoor–outdoor living space in different areas of Lusaka/Zambia, La Paz/Bolivia, and Bangkok/ Thailand. She continued research on informal urbanization and urban rehabilitation in Syria and other MENA countries. She was as well involved into the DFG program „Megacities- Megachallenges" in the Pearl River Delta China.

In 2008 Sonja Nebel took over a Professorship at the newly founded German University of Technology in Muscat/Sultanate of Oman, at the Department for Urban Planning and Architectural Design. Her research activities continued and focus on urbanization patterns and mechanisms in the Gulf region.

Sonja Nebel is a permanent member of the oikos human settlements research network as a specialist in urban development , urban conservation, urban planning, upgrading, sustainable development, with focus on North Africa, Middle East, Asia


1972 – 1979
Studies in Architecture and Urban Design at RWTH Aachen University

1989 – 1993
Doctorate of Engineering (Dr. Ing.) RWTH Aachen University

Employment History+

Since 2016
Co-principal investigator DFG Research project: Urbanisation and Every Day Mobility in Muscat Capital Area/ Oman
Together with Prof. Dr. Carmella Pfaffenbach and Dr. Maike Didero, Department of Geography, RWTH Aachen University

Since 2005
Teaching on the Urban Management Master Program, International postgraduate program for practitioners in urban development TU Berlin, supported by DAAD and GIZ
Member of the Academic Board of the Urban Management Master Program, International postgraduate program for practitioners in urban development, supported by DAAD and GIZ
2013 Guestprofessor at TU Berlin, Faculty VI, interim chair of Habitat Unit

Since 2013
Consultant at the German University of Technology in Oman

2009 – 2013
Professor for Urban Planning and Urban Design, Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design, University of Technology in Oman /afiliated to RWTH Aachen

2000 – 2008
Senior lecturer and researcher Habitat Unit (Prof. em.Dr. Peter Herrle) TU Berlin

1995 – 2000
DAAD guestprofessor at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Damascus, Syria

1984 – 1995
Lecturer and researcher at Institute for Urban and Regional Planning, RWTH Aachen University

Research Projects+

since 2016
Urbanisierung und Alltagsmobilität in Muscat/Oman in Zusammenarbeit mit RWTH Aachen.

Position in the Project: Co-principal Investigator. Funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG.

2010 – 2014
The Research Council Oman: Towards Sustainable Urbanisation Patterns in Oman,

Position in the Project: Principal Investigator. German University of Technology in Oman with Sultan Qaboos University Oman.

2006 – 2008
The dynamics of peri-urbanization in the Pearl River Delta: Emerging land use patterns, urban villages and their linkages to global mechanisms.

Position in the Project: Co-researcher Habitat Unit, TU Berlin and University Kassel. In the framework of the 6-year DFG Priority Program on Megacities – Megachallenge: Informal Dynamics of Global Change

1996 – 2000
Damascus University and RWTH Aachen University: Urban renovation- strategies and instruments in combination with curriculum development on urban rehabilitation of historic cities in Syria.

Position in the Project: Co-researcher. The project was funded by DAAD.

1990 – 1995
Project: Urbanisation and changing patterns of indoor-outdoor living space in a cross cultural comparison.

Position in the Project: Principal Investigator. Funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG, with Libor Schelhasse.

Teaching Activities+

Teaching at different universities in Germany and abroad included the fields of: urban design, urban planning, urban conservation and urban heritage management, sustainable urban development, housing and land use planning, participatory urban management tools and techniques.



with Aurel von Richthofen (eds) (2016) Urban Oman – Trends and Perspectives of Urbanisation in Muscat Capital Area, LIT Verlag Berlin. 


Other articles and publications

with W. Scholz (eds) Oman – Rapid Urbanisation TRIALOG 114, Vol 3/2015.

(2014) Urbanization and Tourism Development in Oman - Sustainable and socially Inclusive ? In: Under Construction - The Material and Symbolic Meaning of Architecture and Infrastructure in the Gulf Region Ashgate, UK.

with P. Herrle and A. Ley (2010) Khans of Old Damascus, Governorate of Damascus/GTZ.

with P. Herrle, D. Ipsen, H. Weichler (2008) Wie Bauern die urban Landschaft prägen - Zur Rolle der städtischen Dörfer in der mega-urbanen Entwicklung des Pearl-River-Deltas. In: Geographische Rundschau 11/2008.

with A. Ley (2008) Visions of Damascus 2025. Urban Mobility. University of Damascus and TU Berlin.

with L. Zhu and P. Herrle (2007) Yangzhou Urban Upgrading Strategy. Phoenix Science Press. Beijing.

S. Nebel, W. Scholz (eds) (2007). Megacities. TRIALOG 92.

with P. Herrle (2005) Old City of Aleppo. Conservation and Development Strategy. Directorate of the Old City of Aleppo GTZ.


Conferences and workshops

with Anne Eaton and Rolf Westerheide (2015) Workshop and exhibition on: Urban Oman, RWTH Aachen, Institute for Urban and Regional Planning.

with Aurel von Richthofen (2014) International Conference on Challenges of Urbanisation in Arab Gulf Countries Venue, German University of Technology (GUtech).

with Anne Eaton and Aurel von Richthofen (2014) Exhibition on Urbanisation Patterns in Oman on display at GUtech, Halban Campus from March 23rd to June 12th. 

(2012) Symposium on Rural Urban Interface in Muscat Capital Area Venue, German University of Technology (GUtech), Muscat.

(2011) Workshop on Understanding Urban Oman Gutech with TU Berlin, Habitat Unit
with Astrid Ley in Muscat/ Oman.


Conference Papers

(2014) Sustainable Land Management in Oman for a Dynamic Housing Market, International Conference: Challenges of Urbanisation in Arab Gulf Countries, GUtech Muscat.

(2011) Lessons learnt from Urban Rehabilitation in Syria, DAAD Alumni Conference Bir Zeit University/Ramallah.

(2010) Integrated Tourism Complexes in Oman – Inclusive and Sustainable? International Conference: The Material and Symbolic Meaning of Architecture and Infrastructure in the Gulf Region Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin.

(2010) Instruments and Tools for Participatory Urban Rehabilitation. Workshop on Preservation of Architectural and Urban Heritage, the German Experience, ZMO Berlin/Urban Planning Department Jeddah, Jeddah.

(2010) Strategic Planning and Urban Development – Case of Syria. Conference on Exchange between German and Egyptian Planning Experts, GOPP et al. Cairo.

(2008) Visions for Damascus 2025 - Urban Mobility workshop Damascus University / TU Berlin Organisation with Astrid Ley and Ghassan El Badwan.

Professional and Academic Affiliations+

Since 1986
Chamber of Architects, Architektenkammer Berlin

Since 1990
Verein zur Erforschung des Planens und Bauens in Entwicklungsländern e.V.

Since 2012
Habitat International Series at LIT Publishers