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Prof. Dr. Florian Urban


Head of Architectural History and Urban Studies
Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art


Research interest: Modern and neo-historical urban design, processes of urban restructuring since the 1970s, images of the city and their mediation during the 20th century.

Florian Urban is currently working on the research project “The New Tenement”, an investigation of late-twentieth-century and early-twenty-first-century architecture in different European cities, including Berlin, Vienna, Glasgow, and Rotterdam. The project is financed by a two-year grant from the Leverlhulme Trust.

Other research interest include

  • history of architecture in the urban context, particularly in the 20th century
  • relation between architecture and social, cultural, and political forces
  • the architecture of mass housing as a global phenomenon
  • tenement architecture, particularly in Berlin and Glasgow
  • informal housing/self-built housing, particularly in Europe in the mid 20th century
  • discourses on modernism and post-modernism
  • discourses on historic preservation and identity

Lebenslauf / Curriculum Vitael


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA
Ph.D. in History and Theory of Architecture
Doctoral Thesis: “The Invention of the Historic City - Building the Past in East Berlin 1970-1990”
Thesis Committee: Prof. Mark Jarzombek (MIT, Architectural History), chair; Prof. Lawrence Vale (MIT, Urban Studies and Planning); Prof. Harald Bodenschatz (TU Berlin, Architectural Sociology) The thesis can be accessed at opus.kobv.de/tuberlin/volltexte/2006/1204/

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA
Doctoral studies in History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Master of Arts in Urban Planning (June 2001)
Master's thesis: “World Cities Online – City Representation on the Internet”
Thesis committee: Prof. Edward Soja, Prof. Michael Storper, Prof. Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris

University of the Arts, Berlin
Undergraduate and graduate studies in Fine Arts (six year program in sculpture and media arts), four semesters at the Facultad de Bellas Artes (School of Fine Arts) at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid/Spain.
Degree: Meisterschüler (Master of Fine Arts, February 1996)


since 2010
Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art
Head of Architectural History and Urban Studies

Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development, Bonn/ Berlin (Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung, BBSR)
Project manager, tasks include the management of the federal support program for the UNESCO world heritage sites in Germany and of the German contribution for the 8th Biennial of Architecture in São Paulo

Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technische Universität Berlin
Guest professor of architectural and urban history

Mitsui Real Estate Group, Tokyo
Urban design Proposal for the Nihonbashi neighborhood, Tokyo

Dunbar Economic Development Corporation
(community oriented non-profit-organization in South Central Los Angeles)
(6 months) Project manager for art projects, research on the history of the black residents of the neighborhood

Free Lance Project Manager
Concept, fundraising and organization of several interdisciplinary art projects in public space such as “Stadtwald - Location Factor” in cooperation with the Volksbühne theatre in Berlin/Germany

Goethe-Institut Berlin
Teacher for German as a Second Language, organization of seminars on Berlin culture for international students

Exhibits in galleries and in public space in Berlin, Munich, Madrid, Tokyo, and Athens

Academic Publications (selection)


Tower and Slab – a Global History of Mass Housing (Abingdon: Routledge, 2012)
– awarded the annual prize for the “best book on planning history written in English and based on original research” by the International Planning History Society (IPHS)

Neo-historical East Berlin – Architecture and Urban Design in the German Democratic Republic 1970-1990 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009)

Berlin/DDR, neo-historisch – Geschichte aus Fertigteilen [Neo-historical East Berlin – History from Prefabricated Parts] (Berlin: Gebrüder Mann Verlag, 2007)

Ph.D., History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-advised by Technische Universität Berlin. Title of thesis: “The Invention of the Historic City - Building the Past in East Berlin 1970-1990” The thesis can be accessed at opus.kobv.de/tuberlin/volltexte/2006/1204/

Peer-Reviewed Articles

“Balmoral Castle – European Romanticism and Nation Building in the Scottish Highlands” [co-authored with Aonghus MacKechnie], Architectural History September 2015

“La Perla – 100 years of Informal Architecture in San Juan, Puerto Rico“ Planning Perspectives, April 2015

“The Hut on the Garden Plot – Informal Architecture in twentieth-century Berlin,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 72 (June 2013)

“Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall and the Invention of the Post-modern City,” Journal of Architecture 18 n. 2 (2013)

“New Tenements and the Image of the Past – the Crown Street Development in Glasgow’s New Gorbals” Architectural Research Quarterly 17 n. 2 (June 2013)

“Japanese Occidentalism and the Emergence of Postmodern Architecture,“ Journal of Architectural Education 65 (March 2012), 89-102.

“Built Historiography in Glasgow’s New Gorbals,” Journal of Art Historiography, published by the Department of Art History/University of Glasgow (2011)

“Mumbai’s Suburban Mass Housing,” Urban History 39 (February 2012), 128-148

“Prefab Russia,” Docomomo Journal 39 (September 2008): 18-22.

“Friedrichstraße, 1987: Neo-Historical Urban Design in the German Democratic Republic,” Planning Perspectives 23 n. 1 (January 2008): 1-28.

“Designing the Past in East Berlin Before and After the German Reunification,” Progress in Planning 68 n. 1 (January 2008): 1-55.

“From Obsolescence to Eternal Preservation” Future Anterior 3 n. 1 (May 2006): 24-35. [published by the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University]

“Rudolf Schwarz and the Speech of the Land – Grammar as a Political Device in Postwar Germany” Journal of Architecture 9 n. 3 (Fall 2004): 251-266.

“Recovering Essence through Demolition – 'Organic’ Urban Design in Postwar West Berlin” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 63 n. 2 (2004): 354-369.

“Picture Postcards of Urbanity – Reflections on Berlin’s Inner City and the 1999 Master Plan” Journal of Architectural Education 57 n. 1 (2003): 68-73.

“The Spirit of the City – Transcendence and Urban Design in Postwar Berlin”, Thresholds 25 (Fall 2002): 84-89.

Other Publications (Selection)

“The Märkisches Viertel in West Berlin” in Mark Swenarton, Tom Avermaete, and Dirk van den Heuvel, eds., Architecture and the Welfare State (Abingdon: Taylor and Francis, 2014)

„The Friedrichstadt Palace in East Berlin“ in Alistair Fair, ed., Architecture for Performance: Perspectives on Twentieth-Century Theatre Design (Farnham: Ashgate, 2014)

“East Berlin” in Emily Makas, ed., Capital Cities in the Shadow of the Cold War (New York: Alexandrine Press, 2013)

“Postmoderne als Konsens: Neo-historischer Wiederaufbau im Ost-Berliner Nikolaiviertel 1977 – 1989” in Georg Wagner-Kyora, ed., Wiederaufbau europäischer Städte. Rekonstruktionen, die Moderne und die lokale Identitätspolitik seit 1945/ Rebuilding European Cities. Reconstructions, Modernity and the Local Politics of Identitiy Construction since 1945 (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2013)

“Public Housing in Europe” in Nicholas Bloom, Fritz Umbach, Lawrence Vale, eds., Public Housing Myths: Beyond Victims and Villains (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013)

“La ville divisée 1945-1989” in David Sanson, ed., Berlin – Histoire, Promenades, Anthologie et Dictionnaire (Paris: Editions Robert Laffont, 2013)

“Mass Housing in Germany – Controversial Success and Ambivalent Heritage” in Jorge Lizardi and Martin Schwegmann, eds., Espacios Ambivalentes: historias y olvidos en la arquitectura social moderna (San Juan, Puerto Rico: Ediciones Callejón, 2012), 52-75.

“Erker im Plattenbau – Die DDR entdeckt die historische Stadt” in Frank Betker, Carsten Benke, Christoph Bernhardt, eds., Paradigmenwechsel und Kontinuitätslinien im DDR-Städtebau (Erkner/Berlin: IRS, 2010)

“Talking Japan,” in Peter Herrle and Erik Wegerhoff, ed., Architecture and Identity (Münster: LIT Verlag, 2008), 91-102

“Der Slum als Standortvorteil: Wohnsilos gegen Wellblechhütten – wie man in Mumbai versucht, die Wohnungsmisere zu bekämpfen,“ Süddeutsche Zeitung 16 November 2008

“Sehnsucht nach der Platte – in der 16-Millionen-Metropole Shanghai erprobt man neue Konzepte für den Stadtumbau”, Süddeutsche Zeitung 16 December 2007

“Das Recht auf vier Wände – Peter Marcuse über die Zukunft des städtischen Wohnens,” Süddeutsche Zeitung 11 July 2006

“Stadt in den Köpfen – Metropole und Megacity, die Konferenz Urban Age in Berlin,” Süddeutsche Zeitung 14 November 2006

“Die globale europäische Stadt“ [German, English, Spanish, Italian, June 2008], Goethe-Institut Online www.goethe.de/kue/arc/dos/dos/sls/de3481742.htm

“Mega-Tokyo,” in Megastructure Reloaded, ed. Markus Richter and Sabrina van der Ley (Stuttgart: Hatje-Crantz, 2008) [exhibition catalog], 87-96.



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