Margarita Barañano

Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) / Associate Professor of Sociology

Courses

Governance and Local Welfare

Research interests

Keywords: transformations of social space, urban interventions

Globalization, transnationalism, migrations and transformations of urban spaces: The impact of transnationalization, and more specifically, of transnational migrations in specific urban spaces; the constitution of migrants communities, diasporas and neighborhoods in urban spaces; the interethnic and intra-ethnic relations and the changes in urban neighborhoods; households of migrants and the feelings of “home”;  the constitution of ethnic clusters and economies; the transnational urbanism perspective and the analysis of the urban changes; the feelings of belonging and non-belonging, the urban uprootings and re-groundings in a global context. All these shifts can be considered in relation with the current period of crisis and change

Transnational families and households in urban spaces: Recently, it has been shown the emergence of different kinds of transnational families and households that, despite the spatial dispersion of some of its members, continue to maintain regular relations between them and a certain notion of being a domestic unit. Therefore, students are invited to examine any of the following topics: What forms adopts these households in cities like Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid; how these households  are configured on a multi-scale level, and how are involved in their constitution factors of each scale, from the local to the global; how are reconfigured the productive and reproductive activities inside these families and households, and what are the consequences in the urban spaces; how are re-articulated the relations between these households, the public policies, the markets, and the other aspects of local urban life in the different urban spaces; what trajectories of change follow these households; where are located the households with which they maintain a regular contact and a sense of unit; what shifts take place in the gender and intergenerational relations inside these households; how it takes place within these households distance relationships among its members; how these relationships are articulated with those that take place in the spaces of proximity; and what forms of virtual and face-to-face communication use their members in order to keep in contact and  reproduce the  network of transnational or global households as a domestic unit.

The analysis of the urban spaces from a gender and intersectional perspective: Gender perspective and urban spaces. Gendered spaces in the city: social practices and symbolic and imaginary representations. Gender and places. Intersectional perspective and the examination of the interactions between social agents with different social origins, ages or gender in public urban spaces. Ages of the city: changes along the life course. Disability, accessibility and dependency. Mobilities, immobilities and social practices by gender, age and other diversities.

The higher education students in the urban spaces: It is possible to exam the following topics: the changes in the volume of students of higher education; their socio-demographic characteristics -with special attention to their age, gender, social and educational familiar background, forms of livelihood, etc.-; their academic characteristics –area of their studies, type of university, etc.-; dedication to their studies and work; forms of accommodation and household; social conditions of life in the city; internal an international mobility. All these topics should be studied from a comparative approach, taking into consideration the cases of Vienna, Brussels, Copenhagen and Madrid, and in relation to the changes that have taken place in the last years.

Contact

Sección Departamental de Sociología III
Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Empresariales
Universidad Complutense
Campus de Somosaguas
28223 Pozuelo de Alarcón, Madrid

Tel: +34 91 394 24 42/2441

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Diego Barrado

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) / Associate Professor of Human Geography

Courses

The Sustainable and Liveable City

Research interests

Keywords: urban studies, culture and economic development, tourism, nature and development

Urban tourism: Since the Grand Tour in the eighteenth and nineteenth century tourism has been an innate activity in cities, mainly in those which has an important cultural heritage and has been traditionally considered as ‘historic cities’. However, it has not been until the last decades when tourism has acquired an important presence in the political, economic, social, cultural and special urban life. Due to this new public presence of tourism, deeper researches are need in the relationships between urban dynamics and tourism sector in many different aspects, as for instance: a) tourism as an urban economic sector; b) cultural and monumental heritage and tourism; c) tourists and the use of public space; d) social and cultural implications of tourism.

Urban cultural sustainability: Although the cultural dimension has been traditionally accepted as one of the main pillar of sustainability, environmental and physical viewpoints have traditionally dominated this scientific approach to cities. Due to this predominance of these aspects, deeper researches are needed in relation with a huge array of concepts and processes directly related with the role of culture in the processes of urban sustainable development, such as heritage, cultural capital, identity and sense, how to measure sustainability and so on.

Cultural industries and urban city centres: In the last decades culture has begun to be considered as an important economic sector. Form an urban point of view, this change has entailed that apart from been promoted as a social right through equipments and facilities, culture is considered a strategic sector for the regeneration of the urban city centres. Among other important issues, it is crucial to understand a) how these cultural actors and micro-companies cluster to develop a chain of value; and b) how some characteristic cultural urban activities such as theatre, music, cinema and so on could improve the cities centres for an geographical, social and economic point of view.

City image and urban marketing: Among many other aspects, the globalisation and liberalization of the economy has meant that cities have become important actors in the global economic competition. For this reasons, cities are using the traditional process of marketing to promote or ‘sell’ themselves in a global market, to attract investors, companies, visitors, events and so on. This process involves reflecting and research about a) the traditional image conveyed by a city and b) how it has been use/modify/change for the new economic purpose; as well as c) the means used to convey new images and d) their social, cultural and geographical effects.

Contact

Departamento de Geografia
Universidad Autonoma de Madrid
Campus de Cantoblanco
28049 Madrid, Spain

Tel: +34 91 497 20 01

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David Bassens

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) / Professor of Economic Geography

Courses

Urban Geography

Research interests

Keywords: financial geography, urban political economy, world/global cities, Europeanization

Analysing ethnic credit mechanisms: Urban geographers have long since identified the existence of economic activities in urban settings that hinge on a shared ethnicity among segregated (migrant) communities. Yet, to date little is known to what extent financial transactions, such as the access to credit, interrelate with ethnicity. The thesis aims to study ethnic communities in a number of European cities (e.g. the poor crescent of Brussels), who have to some extent been underserviced by the conventional banking system, as to how access to credit is organized by households and small enterprises. The hypothesis is that these communities have to some extent organized parallel (informal) credit systems beyond the conventional sector that may be based on more responsible community-building values.

Financing Urban Development: In many cities contemporary fiscal austerity measures are putting even more stress in ways by which governments can finance urban development. Recent times have seen “new” ways of doing exactly that: tax increment financing, value capture finance, and other finance models are starting to become common tools. The purpose of this thesis is trace one or more of these finance models in multiple cities and start unpacking the power relations involved in such contexts. Potential foci are the (changed) relation between public and private sector, the rising role of financial intermediaries, and the potentially disruptive consequences on the urban fabric. The thesis also welcome an exploration of alternative models (e.g. community land trusts) which counter these potentially adverse trends.

Contact

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of Geography
Faculty of Science and Bio-Engineering Sciences
Pleinlaan 2, Room F4.53
BE-1050 Brussels

Tel: +32 2 629 33 82

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Ramon Bauer

Universität Wien / Statistical Analyst at City of Vienna, Lecturer

Courses

Demography of European Cities

Research interests

Keywords: urban diversity, spatial demography (of European cities and regions), global development (migration & human capital) and data visualisation

Population dynamics in urban/metropolitan regions: Urban demographic studies usually focus on cities within its administrative boundaries (i.e. the urban core). However, the settlement and functional area of cities normally sprawls beyond administrative boundaries. Hence, analyses of urban/metropolitan populations need to take into account both urban core and hinterland. What are the residential and mobility patterns of particular groups and how did these patterns change over time? How do (planning) policies cope with changing populations in different types of neighbourhoods within urban/metropolitan regions?

Demography of crisis-ridden cities: The current economic crisis affects the life or urban populations in crisis-ridden cities in many ways. What are the particularities and consequences of urban demographic change in times of crisis?

Contact

University of Vienna
Department of Geography and Regional Research
Universitaetsstrasse 7/5/D519 (NIG)
1010 Vienna, Austria

Tel: +43 1 4277 48781

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Claire Colomb

Bartlett School of Planning, University College London (UCL) / Reader in Planning and Urban Sociology

Courses

Geographies of a Globalizing Europe

Research interests

Urban governance, policies and politics:

  • The changing politics of planning and urban development in European cities, with a particular focus on new forms of urban entrepreneurialism, urban marketing and urban governance (UK, France, Germany, Spain)
  • The contested politics of urban regeneration in European cities
  • The combination of “culturalist” and “materialist” approaches in urban political economy
  • European spatial planning and European Union policies with a territorial impact:
  • The impact of the EU on spatial planning, regional development and urban policies across Europe
  • The European agenda on spatial planning and territorial cohesion
  • European cross-border and transnational cooperation networks between cities and regions (e.g. INTERREG programmes), and their impact on policy learning and cognitive Europeanisation

Comparative planning:

  • Comparative spatial planning cultures and systems in Europe / the transformation of planning systems and practices
  • Devolution, decentralization and spatial planning in “contested” states (UK/Spain/Belgium)

Urban sociology:

  • The impact of urban and planning policies on gentrification, segregation, “diversity” and social mix in European cities
  • Urban social movements and social mobilizations surrounding planning and urban regeneration issues
  • Neighbourhood planning and public participation in planning processes
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Stefan De Corte

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) / 4CITIES Programme Director

Contact

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
WE DGGF, 4th Floor, Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32 2 629 33 70

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Rosa De la Fuente

Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) / Assistant Professor of Urban Governance

Courses

Governance and Local Welfare

Research interests

Keywords: urban policies, urban politics, governance and participation, innovation

Urban policies and politics: Urban policies are more than local policies, since they can be designed and implemented at different levels of government (local, regional, national and supranational) and they are not only planning policies, but all the policies that are involved in the production of urban social space (Housing, Education, Health..). We are interested in how those policies are designed, implemented and overall politically justified, in order to realize the differences and similarities across times, cities and countries and the existence or absence of a city model. The analysis of urban policy narratives as well as the focus on the policy coherence are perspectives more than welcome.

Urban governance and political conflict: Urban governance is the complex system of including spaces of participation in the development of urban decisions. According to Ansell and Gash (2008: 544): ‘[a] governing arrangement where one or more public agencies directly engage non-governmental actors in a collective decision-making process that is formal, consensus-oriented, and deliberative and that aims to make or implement public policy or manage public programs or assets’. In that sense, we would like to explore the consensus and dissensus moments of urban decision makers. Moreover, we are also particularly interested in those new social and urban activisms which are exceeding the capability of those consensus and deliberative spaces from perspectives of radical democracy, reinventing and appropriating spaces and also producing new urban policy perspectives.

Inequality and the right to the city: Inequality and its spatial expressions in city are two relevant study objects, but also the appearance of new civic claims and demands to revert them. The right to the city could be studied through the analysis of new civic approaches to fight socially against the effects of inequality, the analysis of new initiatives to create new types of social space in urban contexts, and the understanding of new narratives about urban rights.

Urban Innovations: Innovation is a complex concept, attached to different purposes, meanings, instruments and interactions. Innovation is a transversal principle of local government areas, but it is also included in new ways of searching for social answers to urban problems. Since cities are considered sites of experimentation and live labs, new topics about how innovation is imagined, designed and produced in urban spaces by a wide range of actors is relevant nowadays. Looking at the coherence of innovative actions, the capability of incentive them, and the production of fragmented spaces are topics that should be analysed using comparative and longitudinal perspectives.

Contact

Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Dpto. Ciencia Política III, Campus de Somosaguas s/n
28223 Madrid, España

Tel: +34 913942664

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Corentin Debailleul

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) / Teaching Assistant

Courses

Urban Analysis 2

Research interests

Urban geography, town planning, smart cities, policing, video surveillance

Contact

IGEAT, Université Libre de Bruxelles
130/03 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, 50
1050 Ixelles, Bruxelles, Belgium

Tel: +3226506816

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Tatiana Debroux

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) / Postdoctoral coordinator and lecturer

Courses

Urban Analysis 1

Research interests

Tatiana’s current research includes work on spatial dimensions of artistic activities (e.g. artists’ studios and art galleries, arts districts), historical and contemporary urban dynamics (e.g. gentrification processes), narrative cartography (fictional literature as a source for geographers), and historical mapping (geolocation).

Contact

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2, Building F
Department of Geography
Brussels, Belgium

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Marta Domínguez Perez

Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) / UCM Programme Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Sociology

Courses

Governance and Local Welfare

Research interests

Keywords: segregation, inequality, urban identity, city centre, migration, children, public space

City Marketing and Urban Identity: Globalization has caused the need for the external promotion of cities and the creation of new local identities. That impact on the exterior and interior of the city, allows some social sectors identify themselves with these new identities and others feel excluded. This process affects both the population and the economic sectors that are attracted by these new identities. In this sense, we study the population and commercial gentrification and new images. Thus also immigration and urban identity is developed.  Migration processes have led to new projects in our cities new problems of coexistence between old and new citizens.

Urban regeneration and population changes: The industrial crisis has generated new scenarios that should respond through urban policies regeneration by the public, private or partnership institutions which generate new tensions and conflicting dynamics with citizens.  It seems that new social sectors are favored by these policies and others who are excluded. The analysis of “who are these policies for” is the focus of interest.

Vulnerable groups in the city: children, women: Cities are designed and aimed at groups of economic and symbolic centrality and they usually exclude groups such as women, children, immigrants, elderly, disabled, etc. We research about how to empower these sectors and analyze experiences and measures to do so.

Public space and the city: Public spaces in the city are the essence of the city, those spaces where the mixture, the difference, opening the encounter with the other, take place. Social practices in the public space (squares, streets, public facilities, etc.) of the various groups in the city (women, children, immigrants, visitors, tourists, etc.) we are interested in assessing the significance that the city acquired its meaning as meeting and mixing.

Sociology of tourism and the city: The impact of tourism in the city is connected with the new urban identities that promote the city and in addition to new images of middle and creative classes that make the culture and entertainment central. In this sense, the analysis of equipment and travel services serves to connect these with the new urban identities and their impact on the total of the city. in this same line, also we are interested in the analysis of urban historical centres and external identity projection.

Contact

Departamento de Sociología II.
Facultad de CC Políticas y Sociología.
Campus de Somosaguas.
28223 Madrid, España

Tel: +34 91 394 26 43

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Heinz Fassmann

Universität Wien / Professor of Applied Geography, Regional Research and Spatial Planning (currently on leave)

Contact

Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Vienna, Austria

Tel: +43-1 4277-48680
Fax: +43-1 4277 9486

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Yvonne Franz

Universität Wien / 4CITIES Local Coordinator and Lecturer

Courses

Contemporary Challenges in Urban Development, Urban Development and Planning in Eastern Europe, Urban Analysis 3

Research interests

Keywords: urban geography & planning, neighbourhood development, gentrification, public space, integration policies, governance, social innovation, practice approach, urban living labs

The emergence of new “arrival spaces”: The century of urbanization is characterized by established and newly emerging migration patterns. The process of “arriving to a city” becomes more complex and multi-layered as cities are not only growing by population, but they also face challenges with regard to housing shortage, gentrification processes and the need for multiple integration policies. Besides education and workplaces, the urban housing market is of crucial relevancy for the “arriving population”. Critical reflection is needed on the availability, accessibility and affordability of housing for new residents in order to assess the limitations of “arrival spaces” in cities.

The impact of social innovation in neighbourhood development: Social innovation has been an emerging concept across policy, practice and academia to overcome societal challenges by collaborative practices between civil society, private stakeholders and public actors. The basic understanding of social innovation can be broken down to “any co-created innovation closing the gap of public welfare state service and contributing to a societal benefit”. When it comes to urban studies and more precisely to socio-spatial analyses, the questions arises: How does social innovation impact neighbourhood development? This thesis aims at a better conceptual understanding on social innovation in neighbourhood development, the involved actors and framework conditions, as well as at the development of “social innovation proxies” to identify and measure the potential of social innovation at the local scale.

The role of public spaces for socially cohesive neighbourhoods: Living quality and human wellbeing have come under increased pressure in “successful cities” due to population growth, physical densification, economic valorisation, limited open space and an increased vulnerability to climate change. More than ever, public spaces have become increasingly important as spaces for leisure and relaxation, but even more importantly as spaces for (daily) appropriations, democratic participation and spaces of encounter in diversifying societies. The core interest in this field of research asks how public space can contribute to creating cities that are more ecologically, economically AND socially resilient.

Contact

University of Vienna
Department of Geography and Regional Research
Universitätsstraße 7/C406
1010 Vienna, Austria

Tel: +43 1 4277 48783

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Joshua Grigsby

Universität Wien / 4CITIES Assistant Programme Coordinator and Lecturer

Courses

Urban Research & the Master Thesis, Critical Topics in Urban Studies, Balkan City Excursion

Research interests

Keywords: urban planning, transdisciplinary research, decarbonization, climate change, transition, street design, complexity, psychogeography, cinema, visual geography

Engaging the unsolvable in planning theory & practice: Wicked problems are those that may be unsolvable for reasons of complexity, uncertainty, or disagreement. However, many wicked problems such as climate change or social injustice demand responses at the level of urban planning, which tends to be solutions-oriented. This begs the question, how can a solutions-oriented field effectively engage essentially unsolvable problems? Research in this area is often transdisciplinary, involving complexity theories and systems perspectives.

Radical approaches to post-carbon transition: Fossil fuels are sufficiently embedded into modern global systems (economic, political, and social) for sociologist John Urry to have written that “burning fossil fuels to generate heat, power and movement is the most significant feature of the modern world.” The global community appears to now be forced to choose between runaway climate change and rapid decarbonization, and either option is fraught with almost unfathomable implications. Focusing on the latter, what are the consequences of decarbonization? How might urban society be reshaped by this socio-technical transition, and what alternatives to the current “carbon regime” are feasible or desirable?

Psychogeography: At its most basic level, psychogeography is the study of how the spatial affects the psychological. With ecelctic roots in literature, philosophy, art, architecture, semiotics, and of course psychology and geography, psychogeographic research typically examines how interpretations of space and design impact emotional states and social practices, exposing in the process the fact that design generally and spatial interventions in particular are never neutral. Research methods include various forms of urban exploration, documentation, and visualization.

Realities & representations in visual geography: Geography, whether human or physical, is an inherently visual discipline. Visual geography is an emerging sub-discipline concerned with the depiction of spaces and spatially embedded practices in visual media such as film, photography, and painting. Cities, in cinema, are frequently both setting and character, and the ways in which cities perform and are peformed in films can either open up new ways of seeing and understanding or reify stereotypes and simplifications. Research casts a critical lens on the framing process of visual art in order to expose the implications of observed-observer dynamics: the what, where, who, how, why, and so what of place-performance.

Contact

University of Vienna
Department of Geography and Regional Research
Universitaetsstrasse 7/5/D519 (NIG)
1010 Vienna, Austria

Tel: +43-1-4277-48685

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Wojciech Keblowski

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) / Postdoctoral researcher

Courses

Urban Analysis 1

Research interests

Keywords: urban alternatives, critical urban geography, the right to the city, critical transport, fare-free public transport, citizen participation, participatory budgeting

Contact

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of Geography
Faculty of Sciences
Building F
Pleinlaan 2
BE-1050 Brussels

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Jesus Leal

Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) / Director of the Department of Sociology II and Professor of Sociology

Courses

Governance and Local Welfare

Research interests

Social mix and segregation in cities: The increasing variety in cultures in cities implies sometimes a growing process of segregation and a major social distance between urban spaces. This increasing of segregation has strong consequences in terms of social relation and could even imply sometimes a “neighborhood effect” in some deprived areas. Questions: How is changing social inequality in European cities? There are political objectives and practices on  social mix in European cities? There is a neighborhood effect in deprived areas of the European cities: in terms of employment, poverty, education and others? What kind of pattern has segregation in European cities?

Local housing policies and social housing: It had been recent changes in housing markets and increasing   difficulties in housing affordability for an extended amount of households. This have implied an active public intervention in triggering social housing stock and in managing it. But the local fiscal crisis push many cities to sell or privatize their social housing public stock with an increase of poverty and a greater difficulty to the most deprived to get a decent home. There is some explanation to different local housing policies in European cities? There are some consequences of privatization of social housing? Who are people living in social housing in cities? How is managed local social housing stock in recent years?

Contact

Departamento de Sociología II
Factultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociología,
Universidad Complutense de Madrid
28223 Madrid

Tel: +34 91 39 42644
Fax: +34 91 39 42646

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Walter Matznetter

Universität Wien / Lecturer

Courses

Principles in Urban Planning and Urbanism, Urban Development and Planning in Eastern Europe, Vienna Transect Excursion

Research interests

Keywords: comparative urbanism, housing policy, education, internationalisation, infrastructure

Urban housing markets and housing policies: From pre-industrial times, housing shortage has been an endemic problem of cities. In the era of the welfare state, relief has come from national housing policies. With neoliberalisation, urban housing is being re-commercialized, and housing interventions are re-scaled downwards to the urban and regional levels – making comparative studies of selected urban housing sectors within the same nation-state or welfare regime, or between different states and welfare regimes a revealing field of research.

Internationalisation of higher education: The 4CITIES Master is part and parcel of a global phenomenon, the internationalisation of tertiary education. There are 3 million international students today, a mere 2% of all students worldwide. Within Europe, the  percentage is much higher, but most of it is intra-European mobility. The life-time repercussions of being internationally mobile are wide-ranging, but under-researched: from transnational ways of working and living, to international career patterns, to expat retirement colonies. Much of these lives has an urban focus, and offers avenues for innovation, travelling concepts and inspiration, sometimes frustration. At Vienna University, we have a large body of transcribed interviews with international students that could be used as a starting point for comparison.

Urban infrastructure in global cities: Despite globalisation, the material infrastructure of cities is highly uneven, even amongst European cities. Due to the longevity of investments, supply and cost of water, energy, transport etc. is deeply rooted/embedded in specific urban political/planning history. Infrastructure of different age, dimension and importance could be subject of comparative research, from tramway lines and Wi-Fi hotspots to waste collection and cash-machines. Even pre-industrial infrastructure is being utilized again, as cultural heritage and tourist attraction, think of aqueducts and fortifications.  As a global city, the quality of a city’s infrastructure is contributing to its attractiveness as a place for investment, hence to its competitiveness.

Contact

Institut für Geographie und Regionalforschung der Universität Wien
Universitätsstraße 7
1010 Wien, Austria

Tel: +43-1-4277-48683

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Fernando Moliní

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) / Associate Professor of Geography

Courses

The Sustainable and Liveable City

Research interests

Keywords: How to improve nonprofit organizations, compact city versus dispersed city

Best practices for the promotion of bicycles in cities: Firstly, it should be studied which are the best practices capable of promoting bicycles in cities.  It should be done by critically analysing the literature. Secondly, the best ones should be applied to at least two European cities. It should analyse whether they want to adopt them and, if not, why not. It would include interviewing stakeholders and to try to do an online survey of the members of cycling associations in the case studies. It may also include the design of some examples of how best practices could be applied to at least one of the cities or to part of them.

Best practices for the promotion of public transportation in cities (metro, suburban train or buses): Firstly, it should be studied which are the best practices capable of promoting a certain type of public transportation in cities.  It should be done by critically analysing the literature.  Secondly, the best ones should be applied to two European cities. It should be analysed whether they want to adopt them and, if not, why not.  It would include interviewing stakeholders and to do a survey of the users of the type of public transportation that is been study. It may include the design of some examples of how best practice could be applied to at least one of the cities or to part of them.

Contact

Departamento de Geografía
Facultad de Filosofía y Letras
Campus de Cantoblanco
Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
28049 Madrid, España

Tel: +34 91 497 66 37

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Axel Priebs

Universität Wien / Professor of Applied Geography, Regional Research, and Spatial Planning

Courses

Contemporary Challenges in Urban Development

Research interests

Keywords: spatial planning, city regions, suburban development, waterfront revitalization

Spatial Planning in City regions and suburban development: Urban regions have a broad diversity of spaces. Old core cities, former market towns, and villages have undergone fundamental changes and are parts of varying urban landscapes. The new suburban settlements which have spread into the landscape since the 1960s, however, are seen more and more critically for their lack of urban qualities. Which promising approaches for transformation of monotonous dwelling areas into living neighborhoods are being taken? What opportunities are appearing for new public spaces, new functional areas around public transport stations, and new urban centres?

Regional government and governance structures: While the regional level is identified as a central activity level in spatial sciences and planning, it has no formal planning or governance structure in many countries. Regional interdependences and connections generate many attempts to build informal structures and networks for regional governance, and formal decision structures and real competences for provision of basic services become more and more crucial for strengthening regions as functional bodies. But how do regional structures develop in different countries? Is there place for regional government between self-confident local authorities and powerful state agencies? Is it necessary to introduce regional structures with overall coverage or are individual institutional solutions possible in different regions of a country?

Transformation at the urban waterfronts: Since the 1960s, urban waterfronts have undergone fundamental changes. In seaport cities, former port functions and port related industries have moved out of the cities or abandoned, and new functions such as housing, offices, and entertainment have claimed the urban waterfront. Whilst in most of the seaports the transformation process is finished, urban waterfronts in many river cities are still facing ongoing transformations. Rivers are being rediscovered as a crucial opportunity for city development and as a potential for new public spaces or housing areas. What lessons can be learned from seaport transformations? Which kind of new developments and challenges are emerging in river cities?

Emerging importance of medium size cites in rural areas: While many city regions are undergoing a rapid growth process, many peripheral rural areas are losing jobs and residents. To maintain an attractive level of public and private services in those regions, regional development is focusing on medium size cities. Is it possible to use and strengthen these cities as stabilizers of rural areas? Which strategies can be identified in Europe’s medium size cities to accept this role? What are the prospects of cooperation between smaller and medium size cities, and can they combine to offer a full range of services?

Contact

University of Vienna
Department of Geography and Regional Research
Universitätsstrasse 7/5/D519 (NIG)
1010 Vienna, Austria

Tel: +43-1-4277-48787

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Henrik Reeh

Københavns Universitet (KU) / Associate Professor of Humanistic Urban Studies and Modern Culture

Courses

Urban Culture and Cultural Theory, Urban Analysis 4

Research interests

Urban social spaces – dreams and expressions of society – Siegfried Kracauer: “Spatial images are the dreams of society. Wherever the hieroglyphics of any spatial image are deciphered, there the basis of social reality presents itself.” This program for a critical analysis of social spaces was outlined by German cultural critic Siegfried Kracauer (1889–1966) in his essay “On Employment Agencies” from the early 1930s (transl. published in Neil Leach [ed.], Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory [London: Routledge, 1997]). The idea of spatial analysis as a source for social understanding is still valid and should be adapted to present realities in city and society. A comparative analysis of, for instance, employment agencies in two or more of our 4Cities would allow for theoretical and empirical discussions with Kracauer and other critical urban sociologists. Other social spaces could be analyzed as well. On Kracauer’s urban analysis, see Henrik Reeh, Ornaments of the Metropolis: Siegfried Kracauer and Modern Urban Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2006)

Moving in the City – perceiving urban space: On optical and tactical reception: Human perception of urban and architectural spaces is usually considered in terms of visuality. But seeing and looking is just one aspect of spatial perception. In his ground–breaking essay on “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technical Reproducibility”, German philosopher and cultural historian Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) points out that the reception of architecture and urban space also involves a tactile or tactical dimension, which, however, tends to escape representation. How should one represent the non–visual elements of spatial experiences? Apart from being a basic theoretical issue, this question forms a radical challenge in contemporary urban and cultural studies which are increasingly pervaded by visual media such as digital photography, whereas the bodily and non–visual experiences remain in the background. In order to rebalance and rethink the relation between optical and tactical approaches to urban space, it is vital to explore the fundamental forms of movement in an urban environment: walking, biking, driving, flying… Space is not the same when you walk as when you ride your bicycle, take the bus or the metro, the car or the train. In this way, the multiple layers and aspects of urban space may be addressed, as well as criteria for assessing the social and aesthetic qualities of a city may be defined anew – to the benefit of urban culture and improvisation. Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid are there to provide precise urban spaces and movements for analysis and comparison.

Literature and micro–sociology of urban domesticity: French writer Georges Perec (1936–1982) wrote a 700 page novel, Life: A User’s Manual (La vie Mode d’emploi [1978]) as a puzzle on the inner life of an apartment building in Paris. Apart from indicating new perspectives to contemporary literature, Perec also demonstrated how literature may serve the cause of a sociological and human understanding of the life that takes place behind the façades of a metropolis. All sorts of private and semi–private but also semi–public spaces are addressed and translated into a myriad of stories which form part of a new unity, recalling that of the apartment building. Perec’s novel provides an original approach to aspects of urban culture which are rarely taken into account by urban studies. In this way, his book outlines ways in which the dialog between private and public spaces, i.e. between private and public life, may be taken into account by scholars in urban studies – scholars who are not literary writers but who, nonetheless, could learn from artistic and other qualitative approaches to the heterogeneous urbanity of modern times.

Art, ethnology, urban culture: Sophie Calle: French contemporary artist Sophie Calle (b. 1953) is operating like a detective in the city. She doesn’t track criminals but obscure habits of ordinary citizens, hidden aspects of urban civilization and strange human relations in the city. In this way she also becomes an ethnologist which may inspire non–artistic explorations of urban environments and social contrasts. A point of departure is to be found, for instance, in Calle’s two books involving Venice: Suite vénitienne and The Hotel, both of which exist in English translations. Apart from situating these works in the context of contemporary art, a Master’s thesis provides the occasion for transposing and rethinking Calle’s methods for the benefit of urban cultural analysis. In this way, artistic projects may prove useful for the interpretation of urban reality in new and revelatory ways.

Suburban places and mobilities: the hidden Metropolis: French writer, publisher and social critic François Maspéro (b. 1932) left Paris for a month in order to travel the suburban social landscapes between the Paris Airport Charles de Gaulle in Roissy and the French Capital itself. This experiment formed the basis of his 1990–book of observations and photographs, Les passagers du Roissy–Express (UK–translation: Roissy Express: A Journey Through the Paris Suburbs [London: Polity Press, 1994]) which provides a possible point of departure of a Master’s thesis on the relation between places and spaces, between nodes and flows in suburban regions surround the iconic cities of Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid. How may the everyday life of suburban citizens contribute to the representation of the contemporary metropolis? How may the symbolic frontier between the city centre and the anonymous suburban regions be overcome? A 2014–reinterpretation of Maspéro’s experiment, including discussions of sociological and literary methodologies, might contribute decisively to our understanding of citiscapes of the 21st century.

Migropolis – mapping the contemporary metropolis: Together with his students from the University of Venice, German philosopher and photographer Wolfgang Scheppe (b. 1955) recently published an extraordinary book on the other side of the city of Venice. Thus, a city of migration, of human work, of tourism as an economic condition of contemporary urban culture is revealed which challenges the traditional image of Venice. Migropolis / Venice: Atlas of a Global Situation (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2009) is a 1340–page inquiry into the global networks coming together in the particular context of Venice. The issues at stake as well as the methodologies developed are relevant to many scholars of contemporary urbanity. A Master’s thesis could deal with the theoretical and methodological foundations of Scheppe’s book and put them to a critical test in the context of other cities of migration: Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid. In this way, the city as an often invisible or ignored stage of migration may be mapped and represented in critical and inventive ways.

Contact

University of Copenhagen – Faculty of Humanities,
Department of Studies in Culture and the Arts,
Section Comparative Literature and Modern Culture
Karen Blixens Vej 1,
DK-2300 Copenhagen

Tel: +45 35 26 35 89

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José Antonio Rodriguez

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) / Assistant Professor of Geography

Courses

The Sustainable and Liveable City

Research interests

Keywords: GIS and remote sensing, spatio-temporal changes, cartography and geographical thought (history of science), urbanity in Atlantic Africa

Sustainability and spatial changes in cities
: Through various geographic technologies (mainly GIS and Remote Sensing) it is possible to study some parameters of sustainability of cities and, above all, understand and quantify the changes that have occurred in urban development. These techniques intended mainly to provide a global and comparative vision, in fields like: the evolution of green areas, heat islands, some changes in atmospheric constituents (such as ozone), etc. In any case, maps and satellite imagery are always efficient ways to represent urban trends.

Contact

Dpto. de Geografía, Calle de Fco. Tomás y Valiente, 1 – Universidad Autónoma de Madrid – 28049 Madrid – Spain

Tel: +34 914 972 383

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Martin Rosenfeld

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) / Assistant Professor

Courses

Urban Sociology

Research interests

Keywords: Globalisation from below, informal economy, second-hand markets, migration, ethnic entrepreneurship

The economy of second-hand goods: With the development of “Discard Studies”, second-hand goods are getting an increased attention within social sciences. If second-hand goods have been part of survival strategies of marginalised groups for a long time, there is an increased interest for re-utilisation, repair café and recycling as well. Much more need to be said about the groups involved in those practices, their places of collect, and the way they exchange and sell those second-hand goods. This knowledge at local level needs to be completed by studies at a larger scale, particularly the one following the transnational trade chains of second hand goods around the world.

Contact

Institut de Sociologie
14th floor, Room 113
ULB’s Solbosh campus
44 Av. Jeanne
1050 Brussels

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Muriel Sacco

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) / Postdoctoral researcher

Courses

Geographies of a Globalizing Europe

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Nick Schuermans

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) / Postdoctoral Researcher

Courses

European Urban Studies

Research interests

Keywords: Belgium, diversity, enclave urbanism, fear, geographies of education, geographies of encounter, in-depth interviews, privilege, publication strategies, qualitative research, segregation, social mix, solidarity, South Africa, suburbs, urbanity, whiteness

Solidarity in superdiverse cities: Drawing on (participatory) observations, interviews and/or focus groups with people who live, work, play or learn together in superdiverse places, you look for innovative forms of solidarity which develop around the shared use of these places. Depending upon your interests, these places could be schools, parks, factories, sports fields or neighborhood centers, office towers, social housing estates, … in several European cities. How can solidarity be nurtured amongst people who do not have anything in common apart from the place that they share? Do innovative forms of solidarity develop around the joint appropriation and the envisaged common future of shared places?

Encounters in enclaves: Over the last two decades, the global spread of enclosed, mono-functional areas has inspired scholars in the field of urban studies to proclaim the materialization of a new urban geography characterized by enclavism. This ‘enclave urbanism’ is marked by the hardening of socio-spatial boundaries by means of walls, fences and booms and by the imposition of socio-legal agreements and specific governance regimes within the resulting enclaves. Researchers and policy-makers are worried that enclave urbanism inhibits face-to-face encounters with poverty and diversity. They wonder how empathy for inequality and social problems will be engendered if it is never or rarely experienced. Drawing on in-depth interviews with residents of different European cities, you could answer the following questions: does the adoption of enclave urbanism impede all encounters across lines of class, culture and/or ethnicity, indeed? Or do face-to-face encounters inside and in between enclaves still have the potential to challenge the stereotypes of privileged residents?

Diversity in the suburbs: The literature on migration and superdiversity is largely based on case-studies in metropolitan areas. Both in popular discourses and in academic texts, ethnic and cultural diversity is closely related to urbanity. Statistics demonstrate, however, that ethnic minorities are more and more present in suburban areas as well. Drawing on in-depth interviews with suburban residents and/or qualitative analyses of articles in local newspapers, I would like you to investigate how the growing ethnic and cultural diversity in the suburbs is dealt with by different groups of people. Are the newcomers excluded from the social and cultural life in the suburbs? Or does contact among different kinds of people confirm or shatter existing stereotypes?

Contact

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of Geography, Faculty of Sciences
Building F – Room 6F329, Pleinlaan 2
BE-1050 Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32 2 629 3185

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Elena Solonina

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) / Administrative and Logistics Assistant for 4CITIES and Brussels Centre for Urban Studies

Contact

VUB – Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Room 4F65 (Building F, 4th Floor, room 65)
Pleinlaan 2
1050 Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32 2 629 33 70

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Eva Swyngedouw

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) / Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow

Courses

Urban Analysis I

Research interests

Keywords: urban sociology, cultural sociology, ethnic- and migration studies, qualitative methods

The diversity of work in the creative and cultural industries: The creative cultural industries flourish in diverse cities like Brussels, Vienna, Copenhagen and Madrid. However, little in-depth studies have been done on how these industries work in practice and their social and spatial embeddedness in the broader urban environment. I invite the students to fill this gap in the literature and to do an ethnography of a creative district/neighborhood (such as Richard Lloyd’s Neo-bohemia about a hipster neighborhood), of a specific cultural industry like theater, music, architecture, or dance (such as David Grazian’s Blue Chicago about the Chicago blues), or of a specific cultural organization or initiative (such as Claudio Benzecry’s The Opera Fanatic on the Colón Opera House in Buenos Aires) in order to analyze the internal diversity of the creative sector/institution/neighborhood in all of its facets.

The governance of (newcomer) migrants and/or diversity in cities: Although the governance of migrants has increasingly become an urban phenomenon, many social science studies still analyze this phenomenon from a nation-state perspective. However, there is a growing need to study empirically the internal variations of citizenship ideologies and institutional practices of migrant or diversity management on the ground in cities. I invite students to study these particular urban social practices using ethnographic methods, interviewing and discourse analysis in a (arrival) neighbourhood, or in a specific institution for migration management like newcomer reception offices, asylum centers or immigration offices.

The relation between social interactions and the built environment in cities: Authors like William Whyte, Lyn Lofland, and Jane Jacobs have all studied how the built environment of plazas, subway stations, etc. influenced the social interactions between people in these public spaces. In this regard, Jacobs speaks of a ‘sidewalk ballet’ on the streets of her native New York. I invite students to study ethnographically how the urban infrastructures or the spatial organization of a place impacts social relationships between city dwellers across ethnic and social borders in public transportation, public squares, shops, etc. In this regard, it would be interesting to compare places in order to evaluate what works best under which conditions from a critical urban planning perspective.

Contact

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of Geography
Pleinlaan 2 Building F – Room 4.70
BE-1050 Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32 2 629 3783

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Manuel Valenzuela

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) / Professor Emeritus of Human Geography

Courses

The Sustainable and Liveable City

Research interests

Keywords: urban environment and good practices in sustainable urbanism, metropolitan peripheries, processes, problem areas in inner city areas and regeneration policies

Rethinking the ‘sprawl’ by means of the urban sustainable and multifunctional perspective. The role played by the ‘new urbanism’ and other good practices coming from international experiences and institutions: The state of the art of the approaches to urban sprawl and the position of planners, actors and neighbours involved. How ‘new urbanism’ analysts and practitioners are engaged in building liveable communities instead of sprawl of typical suburban single family houses settlements? What is the point of view of the international agencies dealing with the promotion of a more sustainable and  liveable city when approaching the automobile-centred model of metropolitan growth? Which kind of good practices have been proposed to reverse this model? After that the ground should be prepared to select the cases studies devoted to find out in which direction the sprawl problem has been addressed. Discussion of the results, conclusions and proposals.

The challenge of the urban regeneration of inner consolidated areas and the practice of the governance as the best way to get a more egalitarian and participatory city: The state of the art of urban regeneration considered today as the core of city planning having in mind that urban governance focuses its attention to the needs preferentially of the excluded urban population and promotes their involvement  in decision-making at all levels. Going down to the local level, attention must be paid to which mechanisms are in place to determine the people’s needs  and to allow citizen participation in planning and implementation of plans, programs and projects.  After that, in the selection of the cases studies the central question should be the processes followed when an urban neighbourhood or area has been improved of rehabilitated, the actors involved, the used planning tools in which aspects and with which outcomes. A critical analyse must follow with conclusions and alternative proposals.

The problem of the spontaneous marginal settlements in the urban peripheries, mostly in the Third World countries. From the processes of their formation to the policies for their upgrading or removal: The state of the art at international, national and local level depending of the country, area or city selected. The political, economic and social background of the settlements selected as case studies. How the land and property structure has influenced the process of the settlements formation and the incoming population the generation of a new community. The resulting deprived area (slum or similar) in many aspects of city life (housing, services, transport, infrastructures etc.). The struggle for the improvement of the settler’s everyday life conditions. Is there any public policy (local, national or international) looking for a solution? With which results? Concluding critical remarks  and alternative proposals.

Contact

Department of Geography, Faculty of Humanities
Autonomous University of Madrid, Campus de Cantoblanco
28049 Madrid, Spain

Tel: +34 91 497 45 87
Fax: +34 91 497 40 42

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Mathieu van Criekingen

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) / ULB Programme Coordinator and Lecturer

Courses

Urban Economic Geography, Urban Analysis II

Research interests

Keywords: gentrification (processes, policies, and resistance to), neoliberal capitalism and the city, life in working-class neighbourhoods

Staying put in the revalorised (inner) city: Urban revalorisation processes are putting strong pressure on multiple categories of land users that cannot afford rising ground rents while simultaneously highly praising central urban locations for social reproduction or economic viability (low-income inhabitants, space-consuming activities, low-margin businesses,…). There’s a need here for new researches on the actual ways and strategies through which those populations or activities at risk of displacement strive to ‘stay put’ in central urban locations, that is, how they resist change. Case studies could be designed here with a focus on specific population groups, economic activities or selected neighbourhoods ‘under pressure’ – in different urban contexts.

Alternatives: Practices, initiatives, projects or experiments of very diverse kinds departing from the entrepreneurial mainstream – and/or contesting it – are flourishing nowadays in cities. Thinks f.i. of community land trusts, community planning experiences, local currencies or exchange systems, free public transport, community-supported agriculture, housing cooperatives, squatting, participatory budgeting, etc. Yet, there is still a lack of critical assessments of the actual nature of these existing policy models or practices that allegedly embody an ‘alternative’ character vis-à-vis the entrepreneurial mainstream. I invite therefore students to engage in researching how these ‘alternative’ experiments actually confront, contest, circumvent – or not so much – neoliberally-minded ways of producing and running cities, based on close observation of situated experiments.

Retail gentrification: The emergence of new retail landscapes is one of the recurrent ingredients of gentrification processes – think of trendy cafés, fashion or design boutiques, organic food markets, etc. However, this aspect of neighbourhood change has been chronically under-researched in gentrification literature, although new investment in retail activities can play a crucial role in accelerating gentrification processes or supporting gentrification policies. Researches should be developed here around specific retail types and/or selected neighbourhoods in order to understand the social production of those new retail landscapes in different urban contexts, as well as their consequences for pre-existing retail structures and incumbent populations.

Contact

Department of Human Geography
Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
Av. F.D. Roosevelt, 50 – CP130/03
1050 Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32-2-6506825

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Gilles Van Hamme

Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) / Professor of Economic Geography

Courses

Geographies of a Globalizing Europe

Research interests

Keywords: spatial planning, economic geography, social geography (sociology), political geography

Research interests include two main fields:

  1. the unequal impact of globalization on regional growth in Europe, including critical views on metropolitanization processes, from an economic and social perspective
  2. electoral geography in Europe and North Africa, focusing on the complex interrelations between socio-economic structures and electoral behavior
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Bas van Heur

Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) / Professor of Human Geography and Urban Studies

Courses

Geographies of a Globalizing Europe

Research interests

Keywords: cultural political economy, cultural policy, cultural and creative industries, state theory, experimentation, social innovation, smart cities, urban theory

Elite cities: There is a strong tradition in urban studies of focusing on marginalised populations and the various (social, economic, political, cultural) exclusions that shape our cities. Much less is known about the economic elites (upper middle class, the ‘super-rich’) as the prime beneficiaries of contemporary economic globalisation and the ways in which various types of elites structure and transform urban spaces. It would be particularly interesting to see more research on the lifeworlds and lifestyles of elite inhabitants that focuses on: a) urban leisure activities (sports, the arts, consumption); b) housing (private investment and speculation, gated communities, property development and renovation); and c) education (private education, boarding schools, individual tutoring, school and university rankings).

Higher education and urban development: Research on higher education and urban development has so far mainly focused on the economic impact of higher education institutes and has only started addressing the wider social relations that link higher education to the city. More research is needed in particular on the following issues: a) in-depth analysis of concrete university-community projects; b) discipline-specific dynamics of research and public engagement; c) the role of higher education institutes in property development and master planning; d) architecture and the built environment of higher education.

Cultural and creative industries: The discussion on the role of the cultural and creative industries to urban development has led to many publications that aim to map the location of these industries in order to point to local clusters and to investigate the value chains that are characteristic for different cultural and creative industries sectors. Although important, the following elements are under-researched and deserve more attention: a) the relation between creativity and social innovation; b) cultural and creative industries in peripheral cities and regions; c) the role of micro-firms and independent workers in various cultural and creative sectors; d) the relation between paid, underpaid and unpaid/voluntary labour in shaping urban labour regimes; e) socio-economic diversity and the cultural and creative industries.

Contact

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of Geography, Faculty of Sciences
Building F – Room 4.64, Pleinlaan 2
BE-1050 Brussels, Belgium

Tel: +32 2 629 3377

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Martin Zerlang

Københavns Universitet (KU) / KU Programme Coordinator and Professor of Comparative Literature and Modern Culture

Courses

Urbanism and Architecture, Urban Analysis 4

Research interests

The literary café: A comparison of the Viennese Kaffeehaus-Literatur and the literature connected to the Copenhagen Café Bernina: The interplay between private life and public in the café; the café as the home of the flaneur or the urban stroller; the feuilleton as an urban genre; literary style as an expression of urban modes of perception; the general question of literary architecture.

The museum and the city: The birth of the modern urban museum took place in the beginning of the 19th century (British Museum in London, Altes Museum in Berlin, Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen). The first museums were truly urban buildings, erected in the core of the old city. During the 20th century the process of suburbanization also influenced the location of museums (Louisiana). Since the turn of the millennium however museums – and the whole question of the city and collective memory – have created a new interest in the relation between the inner city and museums. And at the same time inter-urban competition has led to still more spectacular or iconic museum architecture (Bilbao). Thus, a close and comparative study of museums in one of our “four cities” or other European cities would offer a splendid opportunity to trace historical and contemporary trends in the relation between urban life and cultural heritage.

Transparency: With its use of glass and steel the Crystal Palace of the first world’s fair in London 1851 marked a break-through in modern architecture. In 1914 Paul Scheerbart and Bruno Taut wrote and built a manifesto for glass-architecture, and architects such as Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe made the glass of “curtain walls” into an everyday-experience. In contemporary architecture the use of glass has provoked an interesting discussion of transparency: some claim that transparency is an expression of a democratic society, others claim that transparency goes hand in hand with a society of surveillance – and others again claim that we are witnessing a total restructuring of our understanding and our experience of the relationship between public and private life. The study of transparency may be specified into the study of transparency in for instance: town hall architecture, schools or residential architecture.

Contact

University of Copenhagen – Faculty of Humanities,
Department of Studies in Culture and the Arts
Section Comparative Literature and Modern Culture
Karen Blixens Vej 1
DK-2300Copenhagen

Tel: +45 35 36 51 36

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