TU Berlin

Center for Metropolitan StudiesBuilt Metropolitanism: Architecture and Urban Planning

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Built Metropolitanism: Architecture and Urban Planning

Architecture and urban planning play(ed) a crucial role in the development of modern metropoles. They manifest the intersection of local specificities, overarching urban infrastructures, and global-spatial networks; they tell us about the concrete spatial nature of metropolitanism and about how urban places become visible and legible. Indeed, they elucidate how space has been utilized to anchor particular ideologies or claims to power. Built spaces illustrate the self-image of certain (powerful) urban actors, including state and municipal institutions. These often-controversial forms of self-representation give cities their distinct, historically developed character. Architecture, urban planning, and especially the planning of public and private (or privatized) spaces underscore urban practices of inclusion and exclusion, which find exemplary expression in colonial contexts, the localization of immigrant neighborhoods, or in debates about the “right to the city.” Comparative studies of the dissemination of particular urban-planning ideals as well as of certain architectural styles allow a deeper look at global networks of political power, technological expertise (including planning and governance processes), and the endorsement of imperial, capitalist, socialist, and of course urban cultures. How have architecture and the built environment shaped the physical space of metropoles in the last two hundred years, and how have they been marketed, mediated, and used symbolically? Our graduate research program hopes specifically to encourage comparative and connective research in order to shed light on transnational developments in architecture and urban planning and to study their social importance in the design of public life.

We first plan to address the thesis that modern urban planning was only able to develop through the growing transnational connections of the last two centuries. The rise and professionalization of this field, as well as its impact on urban space, will be considered against the backdrop of globalization. Secondly, we presume that metropolitanism can be illustrated by specific built elements to the extent that these concretize in time and space the multilayered connections between architecture, urban planning, and their social value. Thirdly, we believe that the identity of metropoles is developed through competition with other cities, through which a city hopes to measure its own intrinsic position; thus, metropolitan identities can only be understood in a global context.




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