ABE 016

Topics in global flows and dynamic landscapes: Port Cities between global networks and local transformations

The course focuses on specific topics in global flows and dynamic landscapes, addressing the theme of networks in planning and urbanism. This semester, it focuses on the global networks of port cities. Throughout history, the access to large bodies of water facilitated the foundation, rise and prosperity of human settlements. Since centuries, oceans, seas, rivers and lakes allowed for transportation, exchange and trading. Thereby, they connected places around the world and enabled a direct connection between different cities, states and cultures on a global scale. Over time, these distant places faced similar challenges and took part in related developments. People around the world developed ports, buildings, and technical facilities to accommodate rapidly changing types of ships and containers, from papyrus boats to sail ships and super tankers; and neighbouring cities had to contemporaneously adapt to new technologies, flows of goods, people and ideas. Needless to say, these strong connections also result in close architectural and urbanistic relationships between port cities.

The course combines lectures, writing sessions and discussions to deal with a variety of built form and urban layouts and demonstrate their transformation. A focus in the presentation lies on the unique way of intercontinental exchange of knowledge and specific solutions. An integrated perspective on the context of the city and its hinterland, acknowledging the water as connector and challenge—as a physical, economic, social, cultural and also environmental and ecological element with tremendous influence on the human habitat—contributes to developing joint responses to contemporary challenges. The scope of the lecture covers ancient ports and architectures, their development through the Middle Ages and early modern era until the end of the 20th century. It pays attention to paradigm changes in technical and cultural respect, deals with the influences of trade routes, colonialization and industrialization, the relocation of ports as a consequence of containerization, the redevelopment of historical ports and the current shaping of waterfronts.

Learning objectives

The main objective in regard to scientific knowledge (D.1) is to achieve an understanding of the global interconnections in the development of the human habitat (R.3a). The course is furthermore intended to raise awareness of the existence of obsolete scientific canons and the need to question them critically. Thereby it supports the students’ ability to critical thinking (R.2d). In addition, the course aims to support interdisciplinary thinking as it covers a wide range of topics that cannot be addressed in a meaningful way with a unidisciplinary approach. Writing assignments and discussions are designed to stimulate an effective communication (T.1c,d,e).

About the Lecturer(s)/Coach(es):

Carola Hein is Professor and Chair of the History of Architecture and Urban Planning at Delft University of Technology. She has published widely in the field of architectural, urban and planning history and has tied historical analysis to contemporary development. Among other major grants, she received a Guggenheim Fellowship to pursue research on The Global Architecture of Oil and an Alexander von Humboldt fellowship to investigate large-scale urban transformation in Hamburg in international context between 1842 and 2008. Her current research interests include the transmission of architectural and urban ideas, focusing specifically on port cities and the global architecture of oil. She has curated Oildam: Rotterdam in the oil era 1862-2016 at Museum Rotterdam. She serves as IPHS Editor for Planning Perspectives and as Asia book review editor for Journal of Urban History. She leads the PortCityFutures Centre of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus university consortium.


1 day workshop 12 November 2021, 2 day workshop 15-16 December 2021

How to enroll

Please send an email with your name, mail address, start date, research group and title of your research to abe@tudelft.nl

Course Info

Crouse Code
ABE 016

Course Type
PhD course

Number of Participants
12-20 PhD-students from BK or other faculties (e.g. TPM, 3ME and CEG), or other universities 

Course Load
1 day workshop 12 November 2021, 2 day workshop 15-16 December 2021 

4 GS

Name of Lecturer(s)/Coach(es)
Carola Hein

Teaching Method:
Lecture and discussion, peer review 

Cost Price of Course (per participant)

Cost Price of Course Material (per participant)

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