European Transnational

As a factor of globalization that accompanied the modern colonial and postcolonial period, transnationalism and an emerging landscape of cosmopolitan sites offered women new proving ground outside established social, cultural, and commercial spheres of architecture and planning. In this session, we investigate the significance of transnational mobility, over an open time period, for women as architects, planners, patrons, builders, curators, historians, or other users of the built environment. Whether their movement was based on privileged access to international networks or resulted from forced migration, we find repeated instances of an engagement in debates on regionalism, the vernacular, the everyday, the folkloric, and the anonymous, as expressions in architecture and planning. Seeing these debates as deeply contingent on the subject’s position, this session seeks precision on a problem that has inhabited the fringes of architectural and planning history: the gendered connections between an extreme mobility (understood as conditioned by specific historical contexts) and a theory of the situated. Thinking with Donna Haraway—in particular, her concern with ‘situated knowledge’ as that which is informed by the subject’s position and does not attempt the abstraction of universalism—this session attempts to map mobility and gender onto one another within a set of practices and visions that focused on structuring, building, historicizing, or thinking the undesigned, the unplanned. We see this in part as stemming from the vision of a stranger, a function of vision from a periphery or a territorially interior margin. As Hilde Heynen has discussed in relation to Sybil Moholy-Nagy, the turn to architecture without architects also shifted claims upon expertise, opening the position of expert to a wider pool. This session takes the epistemological question of what knowledge is produced by transnational mobility, and attempts to move beyond the frequent challenges of the archive and historiography, to suggest certain sites of resistance to a ‘canon’ from which many women have been excluded, as well as to the various borders which define architectural expression, authors, and publics. Bringing the work of women architects and non-architects alike into conversation, we invite papers that consider understudied professional figures such as Sybil Moholy-Nagy, Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, Charlotte Perriand, Erica Mann, Jane Drew, Lina Bo Bardi, Minnette de Silva, Hannah Schreckenbach, Dorothy Hughes, Gillian Hopwood, Ursula Olsner, and Denise Scott Brown, or a variety of named and unnamed groups of women—clients, laborers, refugees—whose transnational travels affected the built environment or its history.

Co-chairs: Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi and Rachel Lee

Submissions: Please submit max. 300-word abstracts to or

Deadline: 30 September 2017


Urban Heritage Activism
Thursday 16 March – Friday 17 March, 09:00-18:00
TU Berlin, Hardenbergstr. 16-18, 10623 Berlin


The two-day Urban Heritage Activism conference will focus on heritage ‘from below’–urban history as it is lived, represented and transformed by local communities in diverse geographies and cultural contexts. Speakers from grassroots movements, academic and cultural institutions will address political ramifications and power struggles related to heritage and introduce the failures and solutions of various activism projects, especially in postcolonial contexts. Contributors will debate contemporary tensions and future strategies for interventions through a roundtable discussion at the end of each day.

In addition to the stimulating conference programme, the Simulizi Mijini / Urban Narratives exhibition Juxtaposing Narratives: Dar es Salaam and Berlin will open at 8pm on Friday 17 March with a cooking performance, live music and a DJ. Walking tours and film screenings will round off the programme of events.


Speakers and moderators: Erica Abreu, Jully Acuna, Yaşar Adanali, Awami Art Collective, Comfort Badaru, Diane Barbé, Shraddha Bhatawadekar, Vittoria Capresi, Jerome Chou , Rebecca Corey, Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper, Matthias Einhoff, Anne-Katrin Fenk, Zinovia Foka, Susanne Förster, Benjamin Häger, Maj Horn, Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi, Sehr Jalil, Leila Javanmardi, Claudia Jürgens, Georg Krajewsky, Rachel Lee, Farah Makki, Sarita Mamseri, Srdjan Mandić, Mansion, Avehi Menon, Philipp Misselwitz, Monika Motylinska, Rishika Mukhopadhyay, Laura Murray, Marcelo Murta, Naira Mushtaq, Cord Pagenstecher, Luise Rellensmann, Ana Luisa Ribeiro, Juliane Richter, Gözde Şarlak, Jona Schwerer, Annika Seifert, Gülsah Stapel, Samaila Suleiman and Mike Terry

Artists: Rehema Chachage, Cloud Chatanda, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, KUNSTrePUBLIK and Jan van Esch, Umesh Maddanahalli, Michelle Monareng, Patrick Mudekereza, Paul Ndunguru, Nadin Reschke, and Alex Römer

Lou Moon:   Viewing tropical materials, renewable technologies and local community engagement at a coastal resort.  

Ola Uduku Writes:

Climate responsive, tropical architecture using locally sourced materials remains a rarity in West Africa, therefore setting foot at the remote coastal Lou Moon resort was a revelation. At first glance this seemed like yet another ‘safari-architecture’ beach resort on the Ghanaian coastline [20 minutes drive from Axim]. The first view of a dining area with non-local thatch roofing initially suggesting a copy of an aesthetically pleasing safari ‘hang out’ for expatriates and daring local tourists willing to get to this off-the-beaten-track location.


“Are we nearly there yet?” The track to Lou Moon

On closer inspection and conversation with Lou Moon’s designer and owner Paul Ramlot, it was explained to us that the roofing is not indigenous to Ghana’s coastal communities but was indeed an import from the middle to northern part of Ghana. He had worked with northern Ghanaian thatchers and local craftsmen to ensure the construction of a watertight roof covering. He explained that this had been achieved successfully, and the only problems that had been encountered since it had been completed were with with local bats and grass cutters, that from time to time nest and forage in the thatch. Catching them was tricky  – but sonic deterrents were now being successfully used.


Architect and owner of Lou Moon, Paul Ramlot with Ola Uduku

After a good lunch from an impressive menu boasting  European – Ghanaian ‘gastro’ cuisine and the option of good French wine (which we declined) we were shown more of the resort. The owner had worked hard to tame the land jutting out to the sea and create a number of secluded chalets, using locally sourced building materials and oriented to allow local ventilation and lighting. Whilst specialist bath fittings were imported, 90 % of the materials were sourced locally and the owner worked  with local craftsmen to develop the accommodation at the resort. This was a textbook demonstration on what is possible but has rarely been achieved in contemporary West Africa.

By working with local craftsmen, and employing local staff at the resort he had also both given employment opportunities in a part of Ghana where there are few such opportunities available. He also had a working arrangement with the ‘chief’ and ultimate owner of the land on which the Lou Moon Resort has been built. A share of the profits is paid to the chief and his community.

Resort chalets had solar photovoltaics incorporated into their design, and wireless communication, and electricity were freely available along with a large satellite dish in clear view. Interestingly on arrival we noted a number of vehicles with diplomatic number plates, possibly the remoteness of the location had in the past made it the perfect retreat, one wonders whether this remains so appealing, now that it is hooked up to the world via its telecommunications systems. Judging by the resident clientele at the resort in the January off peak season this didn’t seem to be the case.

We left musing that it took a Belgian expatriate to rediscover local materials and encourage local design talent in this remote part of Ghana. His design model had been so successful that he was in conversation with local elites to develop a similar resort on private land to reap these benefits. What was his most serious problem we asked him? He responded that it was the noise from the local community at funerals and other festivals…

We hope that a cordial arrangement can be agreed to secure the serenity of this snapshot of tropical architectural paradise. We made ‘design attribution’ peace with the non-local indigenous thatch roofing, we saw no vermin, enjoyed the shade and couldn’t fault its aesthetic contribution to what had been a truly revealing ‘Lou Moon’ experience.

Report from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand

Chulalongkorn University occupies an enviable site in Bangkok, spacious tree-lined avenues lead to large parks providing some tranquillity from the city beyond. The University was established in 1917 and the earliest buildings were designed by British architect, Edward Healey in a fusion of Beaux-Arts with Siamese decoration.

Nat Phothiprasat (alumni of Liverpool School of Architecture, BArch in 1929), established the Architecture Faculty in 1930. It relocated to its current location in 1940 and was designed by Lucien Coppé and Siwawong Kunchon na Ayudhya in 1940. Next door to the School of Architecture is the Chemistry Building (now Arts and Cultural Centre), designed c. late 1930s. The architect, Saroj Sukkhayang, (also studied at Liverpool, Dip. Architecture and Civic Design, 1920) had recently returned from a trip to Europe and was eager to implement in Thailand some of the designs he had experienced. Solar shades project above window openings, geometric symmetrical arrangements and the recessed curved entrance void give the building its distinctive character. It is astonishing to see another building designed by the same architect at exactly the same time – but in a completely contrasting style. The Arts Auditorium was an attempt to re-invent Thai architecture using modern materials and techniques, taking familiar motifs and ornamental designs but casting them in concrete rather than carving them in wood. It was also a collaborative design undertaken with master-builder U Laphanon. The rationale for using the concrete ornamentation was to create a more durable building that wouldn’t require the continuous renewal demanded by timber structures. The process of casting however demands that the formwork can be released from the cast and subsequently the ornament appears somewhat flat, and lacking the intricacy associated with timber carving. Concrete also permits longer spans than timber and the result is a larger single form, appearing as if extruded from the gable rather than as a series of hipped roofs and interlocking forms associated with more traditional forms of construction.

The student club house was also designed by Saroj Sukkhayang and Chuea Patthamachinda. Recently renovated and losing its shutters in the process, the building is now sealed and air-conditioned.

A more recent addition to the campus is the Student Union Building designed by Vodhyakarn Varavan and Lert Urasayananda in 1966. A large assembly space with smaller recessed annexes is formed by the spikey louvred gables. Robin Ward describes it unfairly as an ‘Elvis-era resort in Hawaii’ style building – but it is surely more than this. It is a response to the Wat structures coupled with innovative structural and climatic devices, as well as attempting to find a new lexicon for an optimistic university campus.

Close by to the campus at Siam Square is the exquisite Scala Cinema (1967) and well worth visiting, as is the former British Council Building.

Leaving the campus, heading through China Town and over the River we visited the Phra Borommathat Maha Chedi stupa. Built from 1828AD there is a blend of Palladian and local motifs. The temple has been sensitively repaired following a major structural failure and collapse. Just a short walk away is the Santa Cruz church and a small Catholic community that resides in the area. The narrow lanes prevent any motor traffic and the shading of the trees shelter the calm labyrinthine streets below. The community can trace its origins to Portuguese traders and they still bake Portuguese style cakes today. A wonderful museum [Bahn Kudichin Museum] is being created to celebrate this heritage. There are some excellent pencil-rendered measured drawings on display depicting the timber houses from the area (produced by students on the Thai Architecture Programme at Chulalongkorn University). The narrow streets betray the open spaces and gardens that lie within this exciting complex.

This side of the river contains the factories, go-downs and sheds associated with a burgeoning city – and like in many other cities, these frequently dilapidated yet enticing structures attract artists, architects and ‘creatives’. One such development is particularly of note – the Jam Factory. Designed and developed by architect Duangrit Bunnag. Duangrit was kind enough to give us a tour around the Factory which houses two of his restaurants, café, book shop, gallery and design studios.

I made a quick visit to Mahidol University campus too, to see the former Students Union Building and the cosmic brutalist lecture hall designed by Amon Sriwong in 1965.

A few other of my highlights include the Brutalist buildings along the Suriwongse Road, as well as the Neilson Hays Library designed by Mario Tamagno in 1921 and the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, a Dravidian temple used by the south Indian residents of Bangkok from the 19thC onwards.

Many thanks to Professors Pinraj Khanjanusthiti, Saranya Siangarom and Chomchon Fusinpaiboon of Chulalongkorn University for all their generosity and help during my stay in Bangkok.


Chomchon Fusinpaiboon giving a pre-tour briefing at Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Architecture Library.


As part of the Envisioning the Indian City project we have been invited to produce a short set of podcasts for the ‘Realise’ series at Liverpool University. Each podcast is devoted to one of the cities we have been researching [Goa, Pondicherry, Kolkata and Chandigarh] for the past few years in collaboration with Jadavpur University in Kolkata.


You may listen to us here: and read more about the project here:

EAUH Helsinki 2016

European Association for Urban History 2016 Conference: 

Reinterpreting Cities

24-27 August 2016, Helsinki, Finland



Deadline: 31 October 2015


M19. Settler Cities: A Useful Concept to Reinterpret Transnational Urban History?

In the opening lines of his massive Replenishing the Earth: The Settler Revolution and the Rise of the Anglo World, 1783-1939, James Bellich presents a challenge to historians eager to reinterpret cities in a transnational framework: do cities like Chicago and Melbourne on opposite sides of the planet share characteristics by virtue of their foundation and political rule by white settlers intent on dwelling permanently upon lands forcibly taken from their indigenous inhabitants?
This panel will explore this question by calling upon scholars to reflect on the concept of “Settler Cities.” What defines such a city? Are their clear boundaries, or does the definition involve a subtle degrees of separation form the broader category of colonial city? Are there broad commonalities in the histories of these cities that merit singling them for scrutiny as a group? Are they best seen as a special subset of colonial cities or is there a way in which they expand or transcend that long-used concept? Are there webs of connections between these cities and between them and the imperial metropoles that make this concept especially useful as a subset of the new subfield of transnational urban history? What if we go beyond Bellich’s focus on the “Anglo World,” and consider Algiers, Elizabethvillle/Lubumbashi, Windhoek, Batavia, Jerusalem, and even Mexico City or Rio de Janeiro in the same universe as Cape Town, Chicago, Vancouver, San Francisco, Belfast, and Sydney? Are there non-western settler cities? Why did the settlers in some cities abandon their project of settlement while others stay, helping to cause some of the most intractable conflicts on earth?
Participants should not only bring their research on individual settler cities to the table, but also contemplate several themes underlying the concept of settler cities: especially dense connections and flows between these cities and between them and metropolitan hubs; the diversity of flows between these cities, including not only people, money, ideas, and urban practices, but also jurisprudential systems, organizational forms, urban economic structures, group identities, and political cultures; especially complex forms of urban politics that includes conflicts between settlers, between settlers and metropolitan governments as well as with indigenous people; real estate practices involving people who plan to invest in urban land for future generations unlike the more transient European populations of non-settler colonial cities; and interventions in urban spatial politics that include especially complex forms of segregation and law-of-conquest authoritarianism.

colonial cities, segregation, settler colonies, transnational urban history, urban politcs


Main session

Session organisers:
Carl Nightingale, University at Buffalo SUNY, United States of America
Vivian Bickford-Smith, University of Cape Town, South-Africa
Johan Lagae, University of Gent, Belgium

The 20th Century Urbanism and Landscape in Africa conference recently held at the Edinburgh School of Landscape Architecture (ESALA), University of Edinburgh. It took place from 7 to 8 October, and focused on the subtheme of ‘Research Challenges and opportunities’.

The first day of the conference was dedicated to presentations by the four Key Note speakers, who were Dr Rexford Oppong of KNUST Ghana, Prof Luc Verpoest of KU Leuven, Prof Johan Lagae of Ghent University and Dr Iain Jackson of University of Liverpool. Although their presentations all brought the conference’s key theme of ‘Research Challenges and Opportunities’ to the fore, their various approaches and contexts had provided more divergent and interesting perspectives to the discussion.

The areas of interest covered by the four speakers ranged from Dr Oppong’s  “Challenges and Opportunities of Conservation Research and Documentation on the Urbanist and landscape heritage of KNUST”, to Prof Verpoest “Mind the gap: from historiography to [urban] preservation. The African case” and Dr Jackson’s “Research Challenges and opportunities in West Africa”. Prof Johan Lagae also presented a talk on the challenges of his on-going research on urbanism in Congo.


Cover picture for Dr Jackson’s “Research Challenges and Opportunities in West Africa”

In Dr Oppong’s talk, he presents the KNUST as a campus set, and much preserved in the Modernist architectural theme of the 1950s. However, the current state of its architectural drawings archives as highlighted in his presentation, need urgent conservation and documenting for posterity. He therefore gives insights into his current research in this regard, and the challenges of the project. One main challenge he sights is in getting the current University and secondary school students (who also played a part in the survey) to recognise the input of indigenous Ghanaian Architects in the building designs.

vc lodge

The Vice-Chancellor’s Lodge, KNUST Ghana

The challenges of conservation and documentation raised by Dr Oppong, was a theme which ran through the other presentations. However, in Prof Verpoest’s talk, he suggests that further strands of investigations are needed to be explored on the subject. Rather than being limited to buildings and famous architectural pieces he argues, researching conservation, preservation and documentation should look at the wider picture of processes, institutions, mechanisms and historical context. In essence, it should go beyond the built object as an individual subject of analysis. He therefore discusses this in the light of recent projects by Docomomo, where research is being done to go beyond individual building conservation to urban building conservation. He also explains how the organization is seeking to have regional linkages in selected African countries.


An image of Africa’s changing society as illustrated in Prof Verpoest’s presentation

Prof Verpoest’s  suggestion of research into urban, rather then individual building conservation, preservation and documentation in Africa and globally, is also seen to form the crux of work done by the third key note speaker – Prof Johan Lagae. In his current research in Congo, Prof Lagae looks at various types of infrastructure – Missionary, Railroad and Hospitals, but all within the wider urban form context and everyday living. He also looked at the Post Belgian period in Congo around 1965, and raises the issue of building production and technology – but again questions “where were the Congolese in all these?” On the challenge faced in his research, he stated practical issues of language, electricity, relating with local chiefs etc. He also notes the fantastic data and drawings present in the archives, but which unfortunately lacks infrastructure.


Picture of King Leopold II of Belgium in an archival administrative document on the Congo

Prof Lagae’s question on the contribution of natives, and poor archival infrastructure are two issues which Dr Jackson’s also raises in his presentation on Research Challenges in West Africa. With regard to the native contribution, he suggest that urgent work is required on the works of native architects in particular. While supporting the need for improved archival infrastructure in West Africa, however, Dr Jackson also makes a case for more fieldwork participation – arguing that “We have to get our hands dirty and explore…to create new photographs and records of the buildings”. He also suggest that further to such fieldwork exercises, the adoption of new technologies, like Drones and GPS need be encouraged to produce astonishing results. As seen in Professors Verpoest and Lagae talk, Dr Jackson was also of the Opinion that Architectural history needs to move beyond the conservation and preservation of important buildings. He argues rather, that research in this area become more inclusive of the intangible and the ephemeral, and sample user experiences and opinions. His talk raises several other questions on research challenges in West- Africa, including the theoretical base, further studies into Village plans and the PWD, art works and murals, architectural teaching etc. A most significant point he however raises, is on the need for collaborative research, rather than the lone-wolf and fear of plagiarism approach.

photo (1)

Delegates at the 20 Century Urbanism and Landscape in Africa Conference on 8 Oct 2015; Left to right are Meshack, Dr Alex Brymer, Dr Ola Uduku, Dr Rexford Oppong, Dr Iain Jackson (on Skype), Professor Verpoest, Yemi Salami, Dr Ruxandra

Scheduled for the second day of the conference were two presentations to be given by Yemi Salami and Anthony Folkers. Anthony Folkers was not in attendance at the conference but had his paper presented by Dr Uduku The paper was titled “The Spirit of George Lippsmeier and His Institute for tropical Building”. Yemi, had only recently submitted her PhD and is awaiting her viva to take place. She gave a talk on the challenges of undertaking a doctoral research in Nigeria, and her paper was titled: “Challenges of Conducting a Doctoral Research in Nigeria: Reflections from my PhD work on “the Architecture of the Public Works Department in Nigeria, c1900-1960”. Here she discussed challenges ranging from very slow bureaucratic processes, to ill equipped archives and security and insurgency issues, as some of the hindrances she faced during her research. The symposium then held at the end of Yemi’s presentation, with Dr Jackson joining the debate via Skype.