Design & History

Knowledge of the past, and the spaces it has created, is an important prerequisite for designing the future. The Design & History research programme explores a wide range of knowledge and instruments relating to the origins, restoration, conservation, revitalisation and transformation of built heritage.

Experts in diverse fields ranging from materials science to design, history and theory work together. Preserving building materials, transforming heritage structures and landscapes, and designing new buildings in existing surroundings is inextricably bound with the context of the location as well as the history, the place and the materiality of the building.

The collective theme of the programme is ‘resilience’. Resilience is defined  as the capacity of materials, buildings and cities as part of associated social systems to respond to or recover from diverse challenges. Resilience ranges from tangible structures (materials, buildings or cities) to environmental challenges, as well as the resilience of people and their cities when faced with political, economic or social threats. The rapid growth or shrinkage of cities and populations coupled with functional adaptation and climate change, mandate the development of resilient solutions coupled with an inclusive approach to heritage that comprises historical analysis and design.

Key Themes:

Design & History focuses on the following research themes: 

Historical Landscapes 
Historical landscapes – ranging from small private gardens to industrial areas, and from polders to city centres – have evolved as a result of constant spatial and social change. D&H explores emerging temporal and spatial questions related to fields of history and heritage, adaptive reuse and design. 

Heritage and Water 
Water and the abundance or the lack thereof has created and formed diverse heritage structures. A comprehensive and interconnected approach to water is necessary to develop resilient spatial and built-environment practices, especially within the perspective of anthropogenic climate change. 

Healthy Cities 
All aspects related to healthcare research at the Faculty, including reuse, heritage and the historical evolution of building typologies in this field, are connected through the Health@BK platform. This platform is hosted by Design & History. 

The Legacy of the 20th Century
Building on established research by group members, we take a multidisciplinary approach to investigating the history, preservation and sustainable adaptive reuse of the 20th century architectural heritage. 

Materials in Heritage 
Heritage preservation requires knowledge of historical and current materials use and properties, service life expectancy and extension as well as innovative solutions for conservation of heritage fabric. 

More information about this research programme or discuss possibilities for cooperation:

Prof.dr.ing. Carola Hein (Research leader)

Key projects
Key books
  • Rietveld’s Universe
    Rob Dettingmeijer, Marie-Thérèse van Thoor & Ida van Zijl (eds.)
  • Noties
    Jo Coenen, Maarten Mesman
  • Zonnestraal Sanatorium: The History and Restoration of a Modern Monument
    Paul Meurs, Marie-Thérèse van Thoor (eds.)
  • Town Planning in the Netherland since 1800. Responses to Enlightenment Ideas and Geopolitical Realities
    Cor Wagenaar
  • Toekomst beschermd gezicht? Stads- en dorpsgezichten, archeologie en cultuurlandschap
    Paul Meurs (ed.)

more books …