History and Theory of Architecture VIII: Seen From The South

Cathelijne Nuijsink

Our understanding of how urban designers and architects can design cities is still largely affected by Western urban conditions and perspectives. The European city, in particular, with its steady and controlled growth, has served for a long time as the background against which new urban design methods and instruments are developed. As scholars who advocate a decentring and reframing of the widest conceptualisations of the urban have argued, urban design history is still based upon the dichotomy of “First World” model cities that generate new theories versus problematic “Third World” cities in need of correction. However, if our urban theorisations remain anchored in this Euro-American experience, we will be incapable of analysing and understanding the heterogeneity of urbanisms around the world.

This course sets out to overcome this asymmetrical ignorance by recalibrating the gaze. Course reading, lectures and in-class discussions centre around urban theories developed in cities in Latin-America, Africa and Asia to illustrate that urban design and urbanisation are not prerogatives of the Western world. The course will highlight alternative canons of knowledge which have been hitherto marginalised or dismissed because of (neo)colonial power structures, yet are crucial in understanding the design and production of cities. Through studying urban theories based on cities that develop according to other logics and generate different urban experiences, this course seeks to extend our knowledge of urban design, interrogate its assumptions, and enlarge our intellectual horizons to include a wider range of perspectives.

Hover Image: Women protest in the streets of downtown Amman, Jordan, 1968. Author unknown. Source: Wikicommons

Danfo passenger buses in Lagos, Nigeria © Oyewole Lawal

Guest Lecturers

  • Dr. Soraya El Kahlaoui
  • Prof. Rita Velloso
  • Jorge Pérez Jaramillo Arq.
  • Prof. Hannah le Roux
  • Prof. Sucharita Sen
  • Dr. Deen Sharp

In the future, translated texts will be made available here.