ABE020

ABE020 | Research and Thesis Design

Course Description

Research is always embedded in cultural contexts. The background of the researcher, the situation of the research topic, and the implications of the discipline for design, theory and practice cohere in the production of the thesis. Using various methods (including workshops, fieldwork, archive visits, presentations, inputs, readings) we address the cultural and historical contexts of the students’ research topics. The course is intended to help students develop expertise and awareness of the cultural context of their topics, to outline a comprehensive topic, interpret diverse textual and visual sources, frame a research topic through relevant theoretical and content-based secondary readings, assess archival and other primary sources, and communicate with disciplinary and interdisciplinary peers and external audiences. In addition to this academic framing, we will also visit cultural institutions, such as museums, cultural heritage agencies and other organisations, to underscore the relevance of research within an expanded professional context. Methodologically, the focus of the course lies on hermeneutical research, field studies and empirical evaluation. A wide range of the skills taught will also be applicable for other approaches to scientific investigations. 

Learning Objectives

The main objective in regard to scientific knowledge (D.1) is to achieve the skill of conducting efficient and innovative research within cultural contexts. The course is furthermore intended to raise awareness of current discourse in the cultural field, and the need to question its applicability to the students’ own research. Thereby it supports their ability to think critically (R.2d). In addition, the course aims to encourage interdisciplinary thinking as it covers a wide range of methods and motivates the participants to overcome unidisciplinary approaches. The discussions and debates are designed to stimulate an effective communication (T.1c,d,e).

Teaching Method

The course will include workshops, fieldtrips (co-developed and organised by the participants), lectures and inputs, presentations and discussions, and a final submission.

About the Lecturer(s)/Coach(es)

Rachel Lee works at the interface of architectural and urban research, teaching, curating, and art practice. Her research explores the histories of colonial and postcolonial architecture and urbanism at their intersections with migration and exile, transnational practice, heritage, mobility, and gender. She is an assistant professor at the History of Architecture and Urban Planning Chair at the TU Delft. She is currently also a Mellon Fellow with the Canadian Centre for Architecture’s “Centring Africa” project. Recent publications include ‘Engaging the Archival Habitat: Architectural Knowledge and Otto Koenigsberger’s Effects’. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Special Section: Architecture as a Form of Knowledge., vol. 40, no. 3, Dec. 2020, pp. 526–40 and Fenk, Anne-Katrin, et al. ‘Unlikely Collaborations? Planning Experts from Both Sides of the Iron Curtain and the Making of Abuja’. Comparativ, Comparativ, Dec. 2020, pp. 38–59.

Marie-Thérèse van Thoor studied art & architectural history at Utrecht University, where she also received her PhD. She worked at both Utrecht University and the Heritage Department of Amsterdam, before she came to TU Delft. Since 2007 she is associate professor in the section of Heritage & Architecture (AE+T). Her publications (e.g. books on the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Sanatorium Zonnestraal, Future of the Historic Inner City of Amsterdam), research and education expose theory and practice both in architectural history and heritage studies. Projects like Rietveld’s Universe and Colour, Form and Space. Rietveld Schröder House challenging the Future have proven her expertise in the field of ‘Rietveld studies’. Currently she is involved in research on (the future of) built heritage in the Netherlands 1965-1990 and UNESCO World Heritage.

Carola Hein is Professor and Head of the History of Archtecture and Urban Planning Chair 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.

Tentative schedule

2x2 day workshops (25 and 26 October; 29 and 30 November) plus self study

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

Course code
ABE 020

Course type
PhD course

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

Name of lecturer(s)/coach(es)
Rachel Lee, Marie-Thérèse van ThoorCarola Hein

Course load
2x2 full day workshops plus self study 

Graduate School credits
4 GS

Upcoming course dates and times
See schedule

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