Felicity Hwee-Hwa CHAN 

Title: Fellow

Alumni: PhD in Policy, Planning and Development, University of Southern California

Discipline/s: Urban Planning and Design, Urban Sociology

E-mail: felicity_chan@sutd.edu.sg

Contact: 64994840


Felicity Hwee-Hwa Chan is an urban planner, designer, and social researcher who enjoys doing comparative urban research that first seeks to understand the urban conditions and relational dynamics of a place, and then offer practical socio-spatial insights for the crafting of policies and plans that enable social inclusion and place enjoyment. She likes using a mix of methods including ethnography, interviews, and surveys with different forms of mapping to understand the multi-faceted urban realm. Felicity’s research has focused on issues of urban diversification arising from immigration and how it has shaped inter-group relations, local belonging, and public space design. She is the author of the book Tensions in Diversity: Spaces for Collective Life in Los Angeles published by the University of Toronto Press. The book presents a visually rich narrative of how groups negotiate socio-spatial co-existence in multi-ethnic and multi-national neighbourhoods of Los Angeles, and the design elements of public spaces that are conducive for inter-cultural learning.

Prior to joining LKYCIC, Felicity was an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Sciences at Nanyang Technological University Singapore where she started an undergraduate program in Geography and Urban Planning. Her teaching pedagogy emphasizes a theory-practice nexus through planning and design studios that offer students the opportunity to apply urban and planning knowledge to real-world contexts of urban development and local community dynamics. Felicity is currently a council member of the Singapore Institute of Planners (SIP), and between 2007 and 2017, a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Before graduate school, Felicity practiced physical planning at the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA) where she gained familiarity with local planning issues and processes in Singapore, evaluated masterplans, and designed new land use plans. She played a key role in the formulation of the one-north masterplan and the redesigning of Punggol New Town to enhance the recreational and ecological values of the neighbourhood. A stint at the Institute of International Urban Development (I2UD) assisting in development consulting projects deepened her understanding of the different political, economic, social, and spatial conditions of urbanization for countries in the Global South and the Global North.

Her current research projects:

1) Mapping Urban Belonging in Places of Flux (Principal Investigator)

Urban change in the next two decades in Singapore will be socio-spatial and multi-sourced as urban redevelopment will grow in scope and extent as the city’s built environment fabric ages. Urban redevelopment is formidable and can exact emotional and social costs on individuals and groups as places, routines, and belongings become dislocated and disrupted. This presents a quandary of how urban change can be planned, designed, and managed in ways that enable belonging in the city, which is more often associated with stability than flux. Using digital cognitive mapping interviews, the project sets out to study how urban residents perceive, conceive, and experience change in their neighborhoods, and in this context how they form their belongings in the city under conditions of change arising from redevelopment of their everyday urban environment. A comparative study of different neighborhoods (both private and public housing areas) undergoing different scales and stages of urban change aims to harvest insights about the socio-spatial attributes critical to the formation of belonging that can inform urban planning and policy of urban redevelopment in Singapore.

2) Resource-Efficient Urban Intensification (Co-Investigator Future Cities Lab Global, Singapore-ETH Centre)

As a part of a multi-disciplinary team to research on the kinds of spatial organization of cities that can intensify the socio-spatial interaction between individual people and different population groups in a resource-efficient way, the work package study assesses the thresholds and conditions for quality socio-spatial interaction essential for urban vitality in population dense and densifying urban environments, and develops planning and design strategies that can enhance socio-spatial interaction and enable urban vitality.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (2014)
  • PhD (Policy, Planning and Development), University of Southern California (2013)
  • Master of Urban Planning, Harvard University (2004)
  • BA (Hons) in Geography, National University of Singapore (2000)
  • BA in Geography and Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore (1999)


  • Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa., & Low, Hui Lee. (2023). Deciphering the ‘Cosmopolitan Grid’: The Production of Space in Diversifying Heartland Neighborhoods of Singapore, Urban Studies. https://doi.org/10.1177/00420980231199347
  • Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa., Kwan, Ashley., Teo, Angela., & Wang, Yi Wen. (2023) Back to the Future: Generational Perspectives on Urban Planning in Singapore, Knowledge Project of the Singapore Institute of Planners, 1, 1-28.
  • Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa. (2023). Interviewing Tan Cheng Siong. Knowledge Project of the Singapore Institute of Planners, 1, 11-15.
  • Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa. (2023). Interviewing Foo Chee See. Knowledge Project of the Singapore Institute of Planners, 1,  16-19.
  • Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa., & Teo, Angela. (2023). Commentary: What is a Good City? Knowledge Project of the Singapore Institute of Planners, 1, 20.
  • Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa. (2023). Commentary: What do Future-Ready Planners look like? Knowledge Project of the Singapore Institute of Planners, 1, 25-28.
  • Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa. (2022). Tensions in Diversity: Spaces for Collective Life in Los Angeles, Toronto: University of Toronto Press. https://utorontopress.com/9781487545123/tensions-in-diversity/
  • Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa. (2019). “Claiming ordinary space in the ‘cosmopolitan grid’: The case of Singapore,” in The New Companion to Urban Design, edited by Tridib Banerjee and Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, New York: Routledge.
  • Banerjee, T., Chakravarty, S. and Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa. (2016). “Negotiating the identity of diaspora: ethnoscapes of the Southeast Asian communities in Los Angeles,” in Space and Pluralism, edited by Stefano Moroni and David Weberman, Budapest: Central European Press.
  • Chakravarty, S. and Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa. (2016). “Imagining and making shared spaces: Multivalent murals in new ethnic ‘-towns’ of Los Angeles” in Space and Culture. 19(4): 406-420.
  • Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa. (2013). “The intercultural climate and local belonging in the multi-ethnic neighborhoods of Los Angeles,” in The Open Urban Studies Journal 6: 30-39.
  • Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa. (2013). “Spaces of negotiation and engagement in multi-ethnic ethnoscapes: the ‘Cambodian Town’ neighborhood in Central Long Beach, California,” in Transcultural Cities: Border-crossing and Place-making, edited by Jeff Hou. New York and Oxon UK: Routledge.


  • Chan, Felicity Hwee-Hwa. (Mar, 2023).  Podcast  on  the book-Tensions in Diversity: Spaces for Collective Life in Los Angeles, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, by New Books Network (virtual).  https://newbooksnetwork.com/tensions-in-diversity.