History of Architecture and Urban Planning

The History of Architecture and Urban Planning research line explores architectural and urban forms, functions and meanings from long-term, multi-scalar, and multidisciplinary perspectives. It combines diverse methods of historical and historiographical analysis (archival investigation, literature studies, interviews, site visits, statistics and mapping, big data explorations) to understand the construction of the past and its role in the formation of the present. Believing that substantial historical knowledge can only benefit prospective designers, our research aims to anticipate fundamental issues that will impact our immediate and distant futures.

The research group is focused on two different, but entangled approaches:

Flows, nodes, and networks

Architecture and urban form have often been studied as fixities in the past. We argue that nowadays the transformation of places and built form needs to acknowledge global frameworks and mobilities, as well as high, low and vernacular architectures. We study the role of financial and commodity flows, the migration of people, objects and ideas, and the exchange of expert knowledge. Through our Digital Humanities research (ArchiMediaL, Time Travel) and our participation in the Time Machine Organization, we help explore the past for the benefit of the design of the future. Port city regions are a key node in these commodity flows and a focus of our investigations in the LDE PortCityFutures research program and our work with the Union for the Mediterranean. Other themes include the history of urbanism and landscapes, the global petroleumscape, international planning history (IPHS), and global urban history (GUHP).

People, places, and buildings

Constructed environments and buildings are considered key elements in long-term societal change. Their role beyond so-called “high”, popular and vernacular architecture, beyond prioritized (Western) architectural and urban movements is explored, while star-architecture is also investigated. Here, the traditional approaches in architectural, urban and planning history are expanded upon, by exploring diverse architectural representations that are not part of traditional sources, most notably from popular culture, including postcards, maps or toys. Among the research topics are the representation of buildings and cities in professional architectural journals, as well as questions of heritage and sustainability, climate adaptation, health, and the issue of identity in the architectural profession.

Key projects