Histories of Urbanization


Kenny Cupers

Course Description:

This course explores the making of cities, landscapes, and territories in the context of global history since the early modern period. By approaching urbanization as both a material process and an intellectual project, the course critically unpacks the stakes of design and everyday life beyond the binaries of North versus South and urban versus rural. Its goal is to equip students with frameworks and skills for analyzing the role of architecture and design in reshaping humanity and our planet across different scales. While design can encompass any collective and individual intention to shape the physical world, we pay particular attention to the disciplinary development of architecture and the urban professions. From the first global urban networks to the International Congresses of Modern Architecture and from Baroque urbanism to contemporary design responses to climate change, we analyze a broad range of sites, forms, techniques, discourses, and projects. These analyses are enriched by theoretical engagement with concepts such as modernity, capitalism, colonialism, and globalization. Beyond archi-tectural types and urban forms as such, we will examine the infrastructures and territories in which they are embedded. In doing so, this course encourages students to fundamentally question what is at stake in the shape of our physical world.

Format and Learning Objectives:

Develop an understanding of historical processes of urbanization and the production of the built environment. Active use of fundamental concepts in architecture and urbanism such as form, type, function, and program. Foundational skills in urban history, to com-prehend the multifarious conditions in which cities and landscapes are produced, repre-sented, and experienced.


This seminar accompanies the course “Histories of Urbanization.” It discusses in more depth the material covered in the lecture course, and can only be taken in addition to this course. The focus of our discussion will be on historiographic and theoretical debates in urban studies and urban design. During some sessions, we will analyze specific urban plans and other visual materials. In other sessions, we will discuss readings that deepen our knowledge of the historiography of urbanism and urbanization.



Part of Module:

Processes and Projects of Urbanization

Type:  Lecture
Semester:  Fall
Credit Points:  2 CP
Location:  Spalenvorstand 2
Language of instruction:  English
Scale:  Pass/Fail