Urban Design Research Profiles

Urban design at KTH School of Architecture strives to be an integrated part of ABE research on urban and regional development. The School of Architecture is host to a rich set of traditions and competences in urban design, and the setting for its future is based on this diversity as well as on our practices of collaboration that combine to form a common research environment – including frequent discussions on what goes in-between. The profiles are to be seen as research foci and and knowledge areas tied to individual and shared competences but are not personal profiles.

Profile Descriptions

Public space and democracy, power and agency

1. Public space and the relationship to democracy, power and agency, including mediation and representation, forms and interventions in architecture and art, in relation to concepts of site, place and space. A central topic is public space – concrete and abstract, in terms of politics and aesthetics – which constitutes an implicit foundation for subsequent as well as future research activities.

2. Conceptual or problem-based driven research on questions of disciplinarity, inter-, trans- and post-disciplinarity, involved with ‘rethinking’ architecture by addressing the interface to the city and/or ‘the environment’. Fused by philosophy and paired with fieldwork, research in this area also draws on archaeology and anthropology to investigate processes of change and emergence, relational space and temporalities, material and spatial endurance, indeterminacy in architecture, uncertainties and non-linearity, politics of affect, atmosphere, and alteration.

3. Architecture and urban history with an emphasis on ideological shifts, involving theories and discourse on neoliberalism, austerity urbanism, cultural economics, capitalist studies, processes of gentrification, de-regulations, and privatizations.

[Profile leader: Catharina Gabrielsson ]

Critical inquiry into sustainability and resilience, including feminist practices

1. Research on architecture and urban questions combining critical inquiry into 1) issues of sustainability and resilience; (2) ground research in feminist theory and reflection on feminist practices; (3) questions of democracy in planning and civic participation in urban development processes; (4) critical aesthetic and political practices; and, (5) participatory practice-led research and artistic research.

2. This profile addresses urban controversies; of particular interest is citizen perspectives and agency in influencing city development processes. Furthermore, the research is concerned with the relationship between environmental discourse and feminist critique since the 1970s with a particular focus on spatial practices in architecture, planning, art, and what can be called lived utopias, meaning existing lifeways in the here and now that practice alternative, sustainable, or resilient ways of living, producing, and consuming, deviating from and diversifying mainstream market economies.

3. Most research projects are based on participatory research formats, either as action research in workshops, walks, and specific forms of seminars with participants, or by participating in cases beyond the role of the researcher as a detached observer. The formats for participatory action research are also a form of dissemination of the projects.

[Profile leader: Meike Schalk ]

Critical morphology and spatial analysis (SAD)

1. Architecture and spatial configurations in wide sense are interrelated to a wide range of cultural, social, economical, ecological, and political phenomena. Developing methodologies to diagram, model, and analyse spatial configurations as defined by material boundaries of (built or unbuilt) space, understood as a powerful means through which society formulates, produces, and reproduces itself thereby becomes an important inquiry for understanding society-space relations. Central questions include how these formations, in continuous interplay with other processes, develop into a range of both intended and unintended consequences through how they are appropriated and made use of by society at large.

2. The research area has three strategic foci that are being developed during the coming years: (a) Cities and Power, (b) Models and Diagrams, and (c) Architectural form and social performativity. These lines of inquiry are developed in several scales and form a core that is investigated through a diverse range of concrete projects.

3. The research is largely empirically based but also develops theories of modelling and analysing integrated with the empirical work, aiming to further knowledge on architecture specific relations between ‘society and space’. While the research is rooted and internationally established in the field of space syntax, it has a broader approach both theoretically and methodologically into inquiries of analysis of architectural space.

[Profile leader: Daniel Koch ]