An Inter-Institutional Platform
for PhDs, PostDocs and ECRs in
Architectural History and Theory,

Landscape and the City

All the sessions take place on Tuesdays 
4-6 PM CET, 10 AM-12 PM EST
unless specifically indicated


Scroll down for talks in red


DocTalks x MoMA

︎︎︎please sign up on Eventbrite here︎︎︎

14 March
4-6 PM CET, 11-13 AM EST
Robin Hartanto Honggare and Hans Hortig
Resp: Will Davis

4 April
4-6 PM CET, 10-12 AM EST
Anneke Abhelakh and Alex Zivkovic
Resp: Tatiana Carbonell and Igor Ekštajn

26 April
4-6 PM CET, 10-12 AM EST
Sofia Nannini and Alberto Ortega Trejo
Resp: Rafico Ruiz

9 May
4-6 PM CET, 10-12 AM EST
Marianne Dhenin and Giulia Scotto
Resp: Nadi Abusaada and Ijlal Muzaffar 

16 May
4-6 PM CET, 10-12 AM EST
Esra Nalbant and Marilena Mela
Resp: Sam Grinsell and Adam Jasper

30 May
4-6 PM CET, 10-12 AM EST
Jia Weng and Isabelle A. Tan
Resp: Ruo Jia and Samia Henni

13 June
4-6 PM CET, 10-12 AM EST
Martina Motta and Camila Medina
Resp: Alberto Valz Gris, Kurt Pelzer 

Scroll down for talks in green


6 June 2023

State Segregationist Strategies to Control Urban Informality within Brasilia’s Ideal of Modernity

Tulane University

Respondent: Ciro Miguel, ETH/gta

Unpaved street in Taguatinga. Public Archive of the Brazilian Federal District (1966), Unknown author.

This paper looks at the prominent role urban informality played in the materialization of the idea of the new Brazilian capital, Brasilia. I pay special attention to how the Brazilian government advances its discourse of modern national identity using architectural tools – designing and building a new capital – to “improve” the physical environment with the promise to fix social problems. I look at two different settlements outside of the planned city center, called Plano Piloto, which were officially created before the capital’s inauguration in 1960: 1) the “provisional settlement” known as Cidade Livre, and 2) the first “permanent settlement” called Taguatinga. These two cases show the different forms the government used to protect the original plan's purity and control the informal housing that exploded around the construction sites. I argue that the creation of satellite cities outside of the geographic delimitation “faixa sanitaria'' is a segregationist strategy, part of the bigger plan for the new capital and a prominent part of the Brazilian modernist agenda. The urban-modernist aspiration for a utopic mestizo class-less society does not account for the reality of the class-racial gap experienced by people living outside of the Plano Piloto. The spatial order, architectural materials, and aesthetic differences between Costa’s plan and the satellite cities reveal such disparity. I analyze the official discourse of both politicians and architects to see how the modern proposed goals dealt with the housing shortage for construction workers. I use primary sources such as the political speeches of Kubitcheck and Niemeyer, Lucio Costa’s original plan for Brasilia, testimonials of workers (registered in text and video), the official magazine “Brasilia” published by the state construction company, and pictures of Taguatinga and Cidade Livre from the Public Archive of the Brazilian Federal District.


Architectural History
or History of Property?


Respondent: Nitin Bathla, ETH

Bangalore in this rare 1912 map shows the large-scale suburbanisation of the late 19th century in the city. Source: India Officer Records, British Library.

That the ‘touchability line’ could not be permeated by those castes classed ‘untouchables’ in South Asia is well known. But how did this line manifest across the colonial city, the product of 20th-century capitalist modernity? This paper explores the drawing of this spatial demarcation of caste through the bungalow in Bangalore at the turn of the 20th century. Setting aside dominant histories of the bungalow as the quintessential product of a global culture, co-produced by localisation, I show its proliferation as that of the naturalisation of real property. The making of property introduced a racial regime of ownership. Examining this regime in Bangalore, I reveal how caste elites who previously had a virtual monopoly over land and public resources, mobilised newly introduced legal systems to monopolise property.
Property born as real estate in Bangalore’s residential schemes had little value without housing on it. It is here the colonial government insisted upon a detached house set in a compound-the bungalow- to be deployed across the city through specifications and byelaws. If what makes a bungalow distinct from other house types is that it sits within a compound and not its form that went through continuous formal and semantic transformations, I contend that the bungalow’s ubiquity represents the proliferation of private property. Through seemingly quotidian legal judgements of petty officials on land expropriation, I reveal a shadow legal system where decisions over inheritance to land and housing were accrued through ‘precedent’ to reproduce upper-caste domination and Dalit sub-ordination. Examining claims to property, I show how the writing of architectural history through the history of property enables us to uncover for whom and how the touchability line was made impermeable.

13 June 2023
DocTalks x MoMA

The Eighteenth-Century
Teatro Regio in Turin 
A Forest Perspective

Politecnico di Torino

Respondent: Alberto Valz Gris, Politecnico di Torino

Henri Louis Duhamel du Monceau, De l'exploitation des bois, ou, Moyens de tirer un parti avantageux des taillis, demi-futaies et hautes-futaies, et d'en faire une juste estimation, Paris 1764-

When we talk about Teatro Regio in Turin, we immediately think of the 1970s building renovation by modern architect Carlo Mollino: a sudden fire destroyed the eighteenth-century building in 1936. Designed by the First Royal Architect Benedetto Alfieri, the original theatre boasted a comparable avant-garde project. Indeed, the theater’s main hall was built with an extraordinary capacity for the time, responding to innovative visual and hearing solutions. The Teatro Regio became therefore a paradigm in the context of contemporary European theatrical achievements.
The historiographical research, however, has mostly focuses on the architectural artefact. If we do investigate where the carpentry’s timber came from, the history of the architecture expands beyond the time of construction and brings out new points of view. How did a forest work in the eighteenth century? What kind of manpower was required? How had centuries-old knowledge around the forest changed? Which human and non-human species were affected by the logging? Which local communities’ forms of resistance against the process of extraction?
Studying architecture through a forest perspective bears witness the events of construction to being intertwined with the natural environment and its exploitation, revealing a history of architecture that cannot be separated from the environmental one.


Unimprovable Regularities
The Araucaria Araucana Tree
in the Victorian Garden


Respondent: Kurt Pelzer, UCLA

The Araucaria araucana tree (also called Pehuén or Monkey Puzzle) only grows naturally in the Andean slopes of southern Chile and Argentina and in the Coastal Range of Chile. It is admired for its height (up to 50 meters) and longevity (up to a thousand years) and is deeply tied to the Mapuche-Pehuenche indigenous culture. It was declared a Natural Monument in Chile in 1976 and 1990 and is informally recognized as a national symbol. For their part, Europeans, especially the British, perceives it as a usual (and sometimes old-fashioned) species from old parks and suburban gardens. Unlike other imperial transplantations, the Araucaria araucana was imported into Great Britain for ornamental use. By following a specific species, the research offers tangible —complex and sometimes ordinary but not less important— evidence of broader processes related to the domestic scale of imperialism, the nursery market, gardeners, and scientist practice and language, among others. In other words, this research is not about the Araucaria araucana itself but its displacement as evidence of a broader dialogue between gardening, science, and coloniality.
Specifically, this presentation will focus on 19th-century illustrations. Drawings, paintings, and engravings, among others, as methods of visualization of nature, were essential for constructing and disseminating knowledge during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The production of plant illustrations not only facilitated their recognition and classification but also their distinction for potential use. In this context, the presentation focuses on the Araucaria araucana species and its appearance in British publications. In this instance, we will center on John Claudius Loudon's Arboretum et Fruticetum Britannicum (1844). The aim is to illuminate the historical understanding of exotic tree species in the English garden, to visualize the influence of scientific language and methodology on gardening, and to open the reflection on the relationship between ornament and science and their role in plant migration.

20 June 2023

Architecture Culture
in Socialist Yugoslavia:

Exploring the role of
Kosovo’s School of
Architecture during 1978-1991

TU Munchen

Respondent: Lucia Pennati, Università della Svizzera italiana

The post WWII period affected Europe’s map, as borders were redrawn, Kosovo, case study of this research, became an autonomous province of Serbia in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (S.F.R.Y.) in 1945. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia represented a political system with multilinguality and multi ethnicity that contained six countries and two provinces within. After 1945 it was a demanding process of reconstruction of cities, using new building technologies, affordable housing initiatives, which laid the need of more professionals in architecture and engineering. The system focused in founding the architecture schools in each country part of the system that did not have it till 1946.
This research aims to explore an important period in architectural history in Kosovo, that enabled the first generations of architects in Kosovo, educated within the school of Architecture in Prishtina. It will be focused in a specific timeframe, specifically from 1978
when Kosovo founded the first and only school of Architecture within the University of Prishtina, until 1991 when the education system went through many difficulties because of the political crises of the system. It will introduce the role the academic institution had in shaping
knowledge for the future professionals.
The contribution of this research is to fill a gap in the architectural history of Socialist Yugoslavia though a histography of architectural education, by exploring the architecture culture under centralized state, among other actors. Furthermore, to introduce the role the academic institution had in shaping knowledge for the future architecture professionals.
The period of Socialism-Modernism represents an enormous urban, architectural and social history layer of Kosovo that definitely needs further research in particular in the educational discourse to create the whole picture of its reflection of the political system, social culture and
its correlation toward the architectural culture in Socialist Yugoslavia in general.


The Emergence of Governmentality
of Housing in Iran

Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

Respondent: Farbod Afshar Bakeshloo, UCL

In most architectural and urban histories in Iran, modernization is typically explained as the transformation of the organic, introverted city fabric to a city with a grid layout and extroverted buildings. These narratives give much weight to factors such as Iran’s expanding relations with the west and imitating western architecture while overlooking the practical aspects and requirements of such a transition. However, for social transitions to be stabilized they need to be supported by social structures. Law, as a powerful social structure, played a significant role in formation of the new type of housing in Iran and thus the development of the modern city fabric. 
My research aims to explore the relation between the government and housing by explaining the emergence of law regarding private buildings and properties and the objective conditions that made that law possible. In the ‘Building Regulations approved in 1321 S./ 1942”, lot coverage limitation appears for the first time as a subject of the Iranian government’s authority in determining the relation between a building and its surroundings. To explain this relation, I will draw upon Foucault’s view on power relations and specifically his concept of “governmentality”. The analysis of governmentality is the exploration of a field of knowledge, deeply embedded in the social, cultural, and political mechanisms; and the deemed underlying truth which is the driving force behind such mechanisms.
I need to narrow down my topic to make it possible to explain the supporting knowledge behind 1942 Law amongst infinite body of knowledge and choose the mechanisms that convinced the lawmakers of the possibility of its implementation amongst variety of hierarchical bureaucratic system in emerging modern state in Iran. In this presentation, I will explain the strategies I applied to narrow down my research questions.

27 June 2023

Fractures of Urban Accessibility.
Hacking as an Instrument for Decoding
the Smart City in the Age of Big Data

University of Westminster

Respondent: Nikola Beim, University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria / GSAPP, Columbia University

Our cities are on the verge of a radical transformation, a revolution in intelligence comparable in scale to the one that, in its time, brought about industrialisation1. Countless chips and sensors that allow the objects and vehicles to be located, consumption levels and temperature to be recorded, pollution levels, population densities and flows to be measured, are recreating our cities as immense data sets. This new urban patterning appears resolved in the model of the Smart City2. Yet, as the city becomes increasingly hybrid, the danger increases; the shift from a world structured by boundaries and enclosures to a world increasingly dominated, at every scale, by connections, networks and flows, the cyberspace becomes a space dominated by data control and information values. In this instance, planners, policy experts and economists are no longer the only specialists responding to these challenges. New actors enter the stage of urbanism and raise new questions. How is data accessed, filtered and used? What can exist between 0 and 1, a pixel and its neighbour, ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’3? Who defines who is seeing what and who establishes the end uses of data extracted from our cities?
This paper investigates the means, the significance and the potentials of data accessibility in tomorrow’s
urban environments. In an attempt to understand the vulnerabilities over the model of the Smart Cities and the lack of feedback that goes back to the citizen, the work proposes a re-think of knowledge openness policies and data commons currently available to restricted users. Firstly, the relationship between politics and digital technology will be introduced and explored, looking at issues such as algorithmic governmentality, the role of technology and code in managing the patterns obtained from the Sentient City.
The following section will provide an approach to two different examples of projects, focusing on hacking as a critical solution for representing new ways of decoding the city, of ‘opening up’ the uncertainty, irrigating alternative readings and capturing hidden layers. The paper ends with an exploration of the potential value of hacking and challenges of the future crafting of algorithmic power.


Incorporating Geotagging and Its Semantics
in Landscape Analysis.
Textual Analysis of Urban Data through Social Media in the Neighbourhood
of “El Raval” in Barcelona

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Respodent: Agostino Nickl, ITA, ETH Zurich

Tool for a semantic tag-text analysis.

In the post-digital landscape, geotagging is suggested to read the landscape as a text and to enrich the semantic layer of urban space. The appropriation of urban landscape is studied here under the scope of a dialectic between landscape architecture, programming, and technology. In that sense, geotagging would reveal collective reflections towards urban places, opening to an examination of novel applications and methodologies. These include Visual Ethnography, as introduced by Sarah Pink (2012), and Ethnocomputation, as introduced by Tedre et al. (2006). Based on that, big data landscapes and social media platforms enable new differentiated structures and models for the representation of information, opening new ways of manipulating organised information, such as the recommendation algorithms. Hence, the research suggests a visual analysis of geotagged information and the configuration of a training set for the selection of narrative artefacts from social media platforms as texts for the city. The methodology focuses on “el Raval”, a neighbourhood in Barcelona, where the “myth of el barrio Chino” framed the neighbourhood’s cultural and social fabric in the 20th century. In the end, categories of narrativity are suggested in the form of tags, like #barriochino and other sensorial and imaginary georeferenced annotations, to mediate social routines and dynamics captured by users at the level of the street.

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