Luna Khirfan

Associate Professor
Luna Khirfan.


Graduate certificate - Museum Studies, University of Michigan, United States

Ph.D. Urban & Regional Planning, University of Michigan, United States

M.A. Heritage Management, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

M.A. Archaeology, University of Jordan

B.Sc. Architecture, University of Jordan

Contact information
519-888-4567 ext. 43906
Location: EV3 3257

Curriculum Vitae

Research interests

  • Urban stream daylighting/deculverting, nature-based solutions, water-sensitive urban design
  • Community climate change adaptation, urban resilience
  • Community engagement, participatory planning, and urban governance
  • Knowledge transfer and mobility
  • Historic preservation and cultural resource management

Current Research Project

The Potential of Daylighting (Deculverting) Urban Streams for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and for Place-Making: Amman's Seil and Seoul's Cheonggyecheon

Funding Source: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
Role: Principal Investigator
Amount: $243,814
Grant Period: 2016-2022

Scope and Aims

Dr. Khirfan’s current research project investigates the potential of daylighting (or deculverting) urban streams and the consequences of covering (culverting) them.

Empirical studies abound on the ecological consequences of covering and uncovering urban streams such as, the hydrological effects (e.g. runoff and flooding) and geomorphological impacts (e.g. rise in temperatures and decreased fish habitat). Yet, there is a dearth in studies that address the links between urban stream daylighting and climate change adaptation and mitigation, and also, the enhancement of the public realm. Therefore, Dr. Khirfan’s research project draws on landscape ecology, urban morphology, and urban design theories to investigate the potential of urban stream daylighting at three interrelated levels:

  1. The macro eco-system level where daylighting urban streams may contribute to offsetting water scarcity in arid climates as a climate change adaptation response;
  2. The meso urban morphological level where daylighting urban streams intersects with the complex issues of urban development including, the political economy of place production as well as the improvement of mobility (public transit, cycling, and walkability to reduce green house gas (GHG) emissions as a climate change mitigation measure at; and
  3. The micro place-making level where urban stream daylighting intersects with place representation as well as with the creation of the public realm and how the involvement of the local communities in the decision-making processes may be deployed to ameliorate the quality of life.

The Research Questions

Specifically, this research project investigates the following research questions: What are the current scope and nature of the urban stream daylighting practice? What lessons can be learned from this current practice to inform future ecological planning and design? How might the daylighting of urban streams and their ecological regeneration become catalysts for climate adaptation and mitigation? How do the covering and the daylighting of urban streams influence the meso-level urban morphology (e.g. transit and land use) and the micro-level public space design? And, how can vernacular architecture and contemporary local knowledge inform the practice of daylighting?

The Research Approach and Case Studies

Through a rigorous review of the literature, this research project will build an on-line database that documents urban stream daylighting projects from across the globe so as to develop a better understanding of the scope and nature of daylighting and identify the criteria for best practices. Concurrently, a cross-national comparative case study research design will guide an in-depth study of two recent urban stream projects: the Seil in Amman, Jordan and the Cheonggyecheon in Seoul, South Korea. The remarkable similarities between the two streams include: their covering in the 1950s to prioritize urban infrastructure – a major street in Amman and an expressway in Seoul; their links to regional watersheds (the Zarqa River in Jordan and the Han River in Korea); their length and location extending for nearly eight kilometres at the core of the country’s capital; their strong historic associations with the surrounding urban fabric. Yet while Amman’s project completely covered the Seil and replaced it with a manufactured stream, Seoul’s project sought to ecologically regenerate the Cheoggyechoen and improve public transit. Through a qualitative and participatory methodology, this research project will involve GIS layering of historic and contemporary maps; visual typological analyses; content analysis of planning documents; and design charrettes with local planning experts and laypeople. The design charrettes will be deployed as tools for: participatory design, data collection, and knowledge exchange.

Completed Research Projects (Selected)

Title: A Contested Public Realm: Development, Inequality, and Mobility in Amman and Beirut
Funding source: Arab Council for the Social Sciences, Beirut
Role: PI (Co-applicant: Eliana Abu-Hamdi, Berkeley)
Amount: US $45,000
Grant period: 2013-2015

Title: The Middle East’s New Urban Landscape: Inclusive Urban Planning or Democratic Deficit?
Funding source: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)           
Role: PI (Co-investigator, Bessma Momani, Political Science, Waterloo & CIGI)
Amount: $73,856
Grant period: 2011-2014

Title: The Global Appcability of Planning Models: Lessons from Toronto and Vancouver to Amman and Abu Dhabi, and back
Funding source: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)           
Role: PI
Amount: $23,695
Grant period: 2011-2013

Title: Partnership for Canada-Caribbean Community Climate Change Adaptation (ParCA)
Funding source: IDRC and the Canadian Research Councils (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR)
Role: Co-Applicant (PI: Dan Scott, Geography, Waterloo and Murray Simpson, CARIBSAVE)
Amount: $2.5 million
My share: $100,000
Grant period: 2011-2016

Contact Luna Khirfan for more information on research opportunities.

Graduate student supervision

  Number of students currently supervising/co-supervising Total number of student supervisions/co-supervisions
Masters 9 22
PhD 2 3

Recent/key publications

[* = student co-authors]


Journal Articles (selected)

  • Luna Khirfan, Niloofar Mohtat*, Ben Daub*, and Alison Elliott* (under review). Reading an urban palimpsest: how the gradual loss of an urban stream impacts urban form’s connections and ecosystem functions. Frontiers in Water’s section on Water and Built Environment, Special Topic Urban Water Management, Planning, and Design: Links, Opportunities, and Challenges.
  • Zachary Lamb and Luna Khirfan (Under review). Designing Climate Transformation: Past Inspiration and Future Aspiration. Journal of Planning Literature’s special issue on Planning for Climate Transformations, edited by Linda Shi and Joan Fitzgerald
  • Megan Peck* and Luna Khirfan (under review). Deliberative Q-method: A combined method for understanding the ecological value of urban ecosystem services and disservices. MethodsX.
  • Tapan Dhar* and Luna Khirfan (under review). A Sixfold Urban Design Framework to Assess Climate Resilience:  Generative Transformation in Negril, Jamaica. PLOS One.
  • Luna Khirfan (Forthcoming). Middle Eastern Urbanisation. Oxford Bibliographies.
  • Mark Pelling, Winston T. L. Chow, Eric Chu, Richard Dawson, David Dodman, Arabella Fraser, Bronwyn Hayward, Luna Khirfan, Timon McPhearson, Anjal Prakash & Gina Ziervogel (2021): A climate resilience research renewal agenda: learning lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for urban climate resilience, Climate and Development.
  • Niloofar Mohtat* and Luna Khirfan (2021). The climate justice pillars vis-à-vis urban form adaptation to climate change: A review. Urban Climate 39, 100951.
  • Megan Peck* and Luna Khirfan (2021). Improving the validity and credibility of sociocultural valuation of ecosystem services in Amman, Jordan. Ecological Economics, Vol. 189, pp 107111.
  • Megan Peck* and Luna Khirfan (2021). Improving the validity and credibility of sociocultural valuation of ecosystem services in Amman, Jordan. Ecological Economics, Vol. 189, pp 107111.
  • Luna Khirfan, Niloofar Mohtat*, Megan Peck*, Andrew Chan*, and Lucas Ma* (2020). Dataset for assessing the scope and nature of global stream daylighting practices. Data in Brief, Volume 33, 106366.

  • Luna Khirfan, Megan Peck*, and Niloofar Mohtat* (2020). Digging for the Truth: A Combined Method to Analyze the Literature on Stream Daylighting. Sustainable Cities and Society. Volume 59, August 2020, 102225.
  • Luna Khirfan, Megan Peck*, and Niloofar Mohtat* (2020). Systematic content analysis: A combined method to analyze the literature on stream daylighting (de-culverting). MethodsX 7 (2020) 100984.

  • Luna Khirfan, Niloofar Mohtat*, and Megan Peck* (2020). A Systematic Literature Review and Content Analysis Combination to "Shed Some Light" on Stream Daylighting (Deculverting). The special issue of Water Security titled "Water, adaptation and resilience" co-edited by Dr. Aditi Mukherji and Dr. Martina Caretta. Water Security 10 (2020) 100067.

  • Luna Khirfan, Niloofar Mohtat*, and Megan Peck* (2020). Combining Systematic Literature Review with Content Analysis to "Shed Some Light" on Stream Daylighting (De-Culverting). Water Security’s special issue on “Water, adaptation and resilience: A meta-review of promising interventions and core principles”. Water Security, 10, 100067.

  • Luna Khirfan and Hadi El-Shayeb* (2019). Urban Climate Resilience through Socio-Ecological Planning: A Case Study in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Journal of Urbanism. Volume 13, Issue 2, Pages: 187-212. 

  • Tapan Dhar* and Luna Khirfan (2017). A multi-scale and multi-dimensional framework for enhancing the resilience of urban form to climate change. Urban Climate 19 (2017) 7291.
  • Tapan Dhar* and Luna Khirfan (2017). Climate Change Adaption in Planning and Design Research: Missing Links and Research Agenda. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. Volume 60, Number 4, pages: 602-627.

  • Brown, H.C.P., Angus, R., Armitage, D., Brown, S., Charles, A., Khirfan, L. and J. MacFadyen (2017). Building Resilient Coastal Communities in the Context of Climate Change. In Building Community Resilience: From Dark Horses to White Steeds. Edited by: L. Brinklow and R. Gibson. Island Studies Press, Charlottetown, PEI. PP: 169-190.

  • Luna Khirfan (2017). Introduction to The Middle East’s New Urban Landscape: Urban Governance and Participatory Planning. Edited by Luna Khirfan. McGill-Queens University Press: Montreal. PP: 3-31.

  • Luna Khirfan and Bessma Momani (2017). Tracing Participatory Planning In Amman. In The Middle East’s New Urban Landscape: Urban Governance and Participatory Planning. Edited by Luna Khirfan. McGill-Queens University Press: Montreal. PP: 79-102.

  • Luna Khirfan (2016). ‘Design charrettes: an approach to community climate change adaptation in Tobago.’ In ‘Global Change and the Caribbean: Adaptation and Resilience’, edited by David Barker, Duncan McGregor, Kevon Rhiney, and Thera Edwards. The University of the West Indies Press and Jamaica National Foundation: Kingston, Jamaica. P: 223-247.

  • Luna Khirfan and Mandy Zhang* (2016). Climate Change Adaptation in Tobago. ARCH+ Planetary Urbanism: The Transformative Power of Cities. Volume 223, May 2016, pages 178-181.

  • Tapan Dhar* and Luna Khirfan (2016). Community-based Adaptation through Ecological Design: Lessons from Negril, Jamaica. Journal of Urban Design, Volume 21, Issue 2, pages: 234–255.

  • Luna Khirfan (2016). Design and beyond: accessibility at community gardens in the Region of Waterloo, Ontario.Chapter in Planning Canada: A Case Study Approach. Edited by: Ren Thomas. Oxford University Press Canada. P: 106-116.

  • Luna Khirfan (2015). Place experience and place making in World Heritage Cities. Chapter 12 in World Heritage, Tourism and Identity: Inscription and Co-production, edited by Laurent Bourdeau, Maria Gravari-Barbas, and Mike Robinson. Routledge.  P: 157-171.

  • Luna Khirfan and Zahra Jaffer* (2014). Sustainable Urbanism in Abu Dhabi: Transferring the Vancouver Model. Journal of Urban Affairs. Volume 36, Issue 3, pages 482–502.

  • Luna Khirfan (2014).  Learning from Petra.  Essay in: Ecotourism, Nature Conservation and Development: Re-imagining Jordan's Shobak Arid Region. Edited by Aziza Chaouni. Birkhauser: Basel. P: 28-31.

  • Luna Khirfan (2014). Documentation and Policy Making: Preserving the Built Heritage or the Life Within?  Chapter 11 in: World Heritage and National Registers: Stewardship in Perspective, edited by Celeste Guichard and Thomas Gensheimer. Transaction Publications, a branch of Rutgers University Press. P: 123-137.

  • Luna Khirfan, Bessma Momani, and Zahra Jaffer* (2013).  Whose authority? Exporting Canadian urban planning expertise to Jordan and Abu Dhabi.  Geoforum. Volume 50, pages 1–9.

  • Bessma Momani and Luna Khirfan (2013). Explaining the Use of Consultants in Ontario Cities. Canadian Public Administration. pages 391–413.

  • Khirfan, Luna and Bessma Momani (2013). (Re)Branding Amman: the values, the image and the making of place. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy. Volume 9, pages 49–65.

  • Luna Khirfan (2013). Ornamented Facades and Panoramic Views: The Impact of Tourism Development on al-Salt’s Historic Urban Landscape. The International Journal of Islamic Architecture. Volume 2, No. 2, pages 307–324.

  • Luna Khirfan and Zahra Jaffer* (2012). Canadian Planning Knowledge in the Middle East: Transferring Toronto to Amman and Vancouver to Abu Dhabi.  The Canadian Journal of Urban Research, special issue on Canadian Planning and Policy, pages 1–28.

  • Luna Khirfan (2011).From Toronto to Amman: the cross-national transfer of planning knowledge. The Journal of Planning Theory and Practice. Volume 12, Issue 4, pages 525–547.

  • Luna Khirfan (2011). GIS, town plan analysis, and historical archival research:understanding the links between inherited built forms and contemporary urban design.Urban Morphology. Volume 5, Issue 1, pages 39–53.

  • Luna Khirfan (2010). Traces on the palimpsest: Heritage and the urban forms of Athens and Alexandria. Cities. Volume 27, Issue 5, pages 315–325.

  • Luna Khirfan (2010). From Documentation to Policy Making: Management of Built Heritage in Old Aleppo and Old Acre. Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review. Volume 21, Issue 2, pages 35–54.

Refereed Book Chapters (selected)

  • Luna Khirfan and Hadi El-Shayeb* (2021). Charlottetown’s climate adaptation: reclaiming land ‘from’ or ‘for’ water? In Terra, Sorta, Firma: Developing the Littoral Gradient, edited by Fadi Masoud with Brent D. Ryan. ACTAR: Barcelona, Spain. Pages 246-257
  • Luna Khirfan (2020). The new climate urbanism: a physical, social, and behavioural framework. Chapter 11 in Climate urbanism: towards a critical research agenda, edited by Vanesa Castán Broto, Enora Robin, Aidan While. Palgrave MacMillan: London, UK. Pages 171-193.
  • Luna Khirfan (2019). Planning and unplanning Amman: Between formal planning and non-traditional agency. In The Palgrave Handbook of Bottom-Up Urbanism, edited by Konrad Kickert and Mahyar Arefi. Palgrave McMillan: Cham. Pages: 201-2018.

Refereed Reports

  • I am one of the team of Lead Authors for Chapter 6: Cities, Settlements and Key Infrastructure, which is part of Working Group II’s contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. The Coordinating Lead Authors: David Dodman (Jamaica); Bronwyn Hayward (New Zealand); Mark Pelling (United Kingdom); the Lead Authors: Vanesa Castan-Broto (Spain); Winston Chow (Singapore); Eric Chu (United States of America); Richard Dawson (United Kingdom); Luna Khirfan (Canada); Timon McPhearson (United States of America); Anjal Prakash (India); Zheng Yan (China); Gina Ziervogel (South Africa).
  • I am also a Contributing Author to Chapter 10: Asia, which is part of Working Group II’s contribution to the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.

Datasets (original)

The following datasets are refereed and connect to the refereed article published in Data in Brief (

Other Publication Contributions

I have been invited by the journal Sustainability ( to serve as Guest Editor for a special issue on “Sustainability and stream daylighting research”:

Innovative Design

Design Competition

  • Khirfan, Luna and Mandy Zhang (2015). Community-Based Climate Change Adaptation in Tobago. Second category winner in the international design competition titled “Planetary Urbanism – Critique of the Present in the Medium of Information Design” by UN-HABITAT and ARCH+.
Khirfan design panels

To view more photos and information about Dr. Khirfan's award, please visit: Luna Khirfan wins ARCH + International Design Competition!

Courses taught

  • PLAN 313: Community Design Studio
  • PLAN 346: Public Participation and Mediation
  • PLAN 408/648: Seminar on Urban Design
  • PLAN 474/674: Community Climate Change Adaptation, Research-Based Studio
  • PLAN 705: Design in Planning