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Resilience Engineering
TU DelftTU EindhovenUniversity of TwenteWageningen University
Resilience Engineering


+31(0)6 48 27 55 61


Athanasios Votsis

I am an Assistant Professor at the University of Twente, working on the ‘sustainability of complex adaptive systems’ theme, from Humanities and Computational perspectives. I have a multidisciplinary background in semiotics, urbanism and spatial planning, spatial economics, and geography. My research is distributed across diverse strands, but can be thought of as an endeavour in topological meaning and spatial organization: what do choices about the built environment, observed spatial behaviour, and their interaction with wider ecological, institutional, and technological factors tell us about the resilience and sustainability of human settlements? Can we identify fundamentally different socio-spatial alternatives in the short and–especially—long term?

These elements have recently culminated in the development of a new theory of Civilizational Semiotics: the study of the systems of meaning that civilizations develop about human-environment interaction when they inhabit their world, forming it and being formed by it. Within this theory, resilience is seen as the long-term existential trajectories of civilizations as outcomes of their own systems of meaning about the world.

My involvement with 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering is primarily through my affiliation with the 4TU DeSIRE capacity building program. In particular, my educational activities involve the incorporation of computational, complex systems and economic geography thinking into sustainability, public administration and spatial planning courses. In connection to this, I am also looking into issues of hybrid/distributed intelligence and human-AI interaction in computational intelligence, which relates both to education and decision-making. My connection to the Centre has also an operational perspective, through my research on multisectoral urban dynamics (land use planning, urbanisation pathways, housing markets, economic impacts of ecological risks and amenities) in connection to weather/climate and adaptation policy (heatwaves, flooding, energy, nature-based solutions).

In my view, the 4TU Centre for Resilience Engineering represents an important development towards conceptualising, substantiating, and operationalising the notion of resilient socio-spatial systems with a remarkably transdisciplinary vision. It is crucially important to take a synthesising look into the resilience characteristics of different paradigms of planning and managing the built environment—and more fundamentally, the long-term term trajectories of different types of human settlements or socio-spatial configurations.