The Master of Architecture and Human Settlements (MaHS) and the Master of Urbanism and Strategic Planning (MaUSP) are international postgraduate programs hosted at the Department of Architecture, KU Leuven. Operating at the nexus of advanced research and design, the programs critically address worldwide urban transformation. The MaHS is a highly renowned 12-month programme rooted in inter-disciplinary and inter-cultural design and research. The MaUSP engages for 24 months in immersive urban design, landscape urbanism and urban planning to tackle contemporary urban development and its spatial challenges. Read more

25 September 2017
Opening Lecture

We are proud to announce the opening lecture for the 2017-2018 Academic year entitled ‘Arrival Lobby’ by the Amsterdam based architect Lada Hrsak!

29 June 2017
IV World Urbanisms

From Thursday 29th of June to Saturday 1st of July our Department of Architecture organizes the World Urbanisms Seminar for the fourth consecutive time. This seminar bundles a series of diverse urban contexts in the world that form the subject of a debate, mainly built on the thesis work of the Master students of Architecture (MIRA) and the studio and thesis work of the students of the Master of Human Settlements (MaHS), Master of Urbanism and Spatial Planning (MaUSP), European Master of Urbanism (EMU) and ongoing PhD research. See the full program here.

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20 February 2017
Call for non-European Applications!

Non-European applications are due to the 1st of March! See the application details here.

31 January 2017
Post-Doc researcher for the international Master of Human Settlements (MAHS)
11 November 2016
Bungamati Action Plan at UK Shelter Forum London and ASF Lyon
14 October 2016
MaHS alumni Olga Peek + Nelson Carofilis won 2nd prize at the CIU Habitat competition.
25 May 2016
Call for European Applications!
24 May 2016
The next economy - OSA at IABR
2 February 2016
Map of the Month: Occupying São Paolo
1 February 2016
29 January 2016
In memoriam: Prof. Sandi Siregar
16 January 2016
Launch of Bungamati Rebuilding
7 December 2015
Waste of the City/ The City of Waste
16 October 2015
Dirty Antwerp: BWMSTR Label 2015 to MaUSP research
13 October 2015
CADES Lectures are back
21 September 2015
Opening of the academic year
20 September 2015
MaHS-MaUSP in Nepal
Recent studios
Spring 2017
Reviving territories of hydraulic civilization
Design explorations in the Jiangnan transect of the Yangtze River Delta

China has undergone major ‘catch up’ development at an exponential growth rate in the last few decades. This has come with major environmental degradation, with perhaps the most pressing challenge being water supply, as watershed volumes shrink and flood risks increase. Two-thirds of Chinese cities lack water – more than half of China’s surface water and its cities' underground water supplies are polluted. A third of China’s population faces the threat of drinking contaminated water. In the last 50 years, half of its wetlands have disappeared, and its underground water table is increasingly decreasing.

The green heart of the Yangtze River Delta is composed of a fine-grained mix of fishponds and polders, that interweave linear settlements and small industries, contrasting with the rigidly zoned towns and generic cities that were developed in the last few decades. This top-down urbanization contrasts with heritage values that were sensitive to water systems and their ecological and functional roles. Recently, an ‘East-West Ecological Wetland and Water-village Corridor’ has been proposed with the aim to conserve the described water landscape. This studio will investigate how new development pressure in this corridor can be accommodated for while still preserving the distinct qualities of the area. The role of water in the YRD is evident. Hence, how can water and ecological systems be taken into account while continuing to accommodate the most dynamic development ever encountered in the region?

Spring 2017
Tamanduateí River Basin
Water Urbanisms explorations

São Paulo´s original settlement laid beside Tamanduateí River’s banks. With the construction of the first railway network, this floodplain became one of the first axes for the city´s development, which explains the high concentration of listed heritage along the river bank and the railway axis. In the recent years, in order to re-qualify its former industrial floodplains, the municipality conceived redevelopment programs, the most recent called Urban Operation “Bairros do Tamanduateí” (Tamanduateí neighborhood).
Taking advantage of the discussions generated by these redevelopment plans, this studio proposes to envision alternative urban design scenarios, giving a wider role to the river in the floodplain´s redevelopment.
The design proposals address the complexity and conflicts represented by the superposition of infrastructure; floods and water management (river, rain and sewage waters); listed buildings and industrial heritage; productive industrial area; the need for housing and new housing typologies; the existence of informal areas; and the site´s current decay.
Differently from the ongoing municipality´s propositions - Urban Operation Bairros do Tamanduateí - this exercise attempts to focus on the river, the potentials of the floodplain, searching for a reconciliation, between waterscapes and city spaces.

The urban design explorations aim to answer the following research question:
How water urbanism and urban design strategies would be able to shift the eastern part of São Paulo, currently shaped by infrastructure?

Fall 2016
Top Noordrand Brussel.
‘Exploring the northern edge of Brussels’

Brussels and its edge are considered as two urban systems separated by a green belt. Where Brussels is a compact dense city, the edge is a dispersed urban configuration. Yet Brussels centre and the edge function as one system, as communicating vessels. One of the important elements in this interdependence is the demographic pressure. Brussels is facing a demographic boom that will to a large extend influence the edge. This studio explores the form and the possible strategies of this extension. The main question is how to address this demographic boom in a non-metropolitan context. Do we consider the edge as an extension of Brussels or as a new urban system? A question raised by both the Flemish administration of spatial development (RWO) and in the study on metropolitan landscapes in the Brussels region.

Fall 2016
The Big, the Bad and the Ugly?
Returning to modernist utopias

During the 1960s and 70s, heydays of modernism and of the welfare state, a whole series of high rise social housing estates were realized in the Brussels region, quite a number of these operations ended up in the periphery of the agglomeration, an area nowadays commonly labeled as the second crown.

This last vast urban program of the welfare state –the massive housing projects that are under investigation in this studio-, is actually the first and only program that was set up in view of the social and economic integration and development of the poor in history, one could argue the last utopian act of modernism, appears to have been rather a dystopia. Mediocraly produced and badly received by critics, general opinion, and in the slipstream of that by policy makers, they soon were seen as a symptom of the problem of society and the city, rather than the solution. During the development decades, social housing was indeed seen as an engine of social and economic development. The last decades social housing rather became a last resort for the unfortunate.

The studio is then looking at how can their recovery be elaborated beyond the discourses of ‘dis-enclaving’ the enclave and of refurbishing architecture as to achieve sustainable building envelopes? Can the utopias of the past become the ground on which to construct contemporary urbanism? Can these complex dwelling environments become platforms to re-conceptualize the relationship between built and unbuilt, the public and the private, the individual and the collective, inside and outside?

Fall 2016
Antwerp Dam

Throughout the next years the Dam, a popular neighbourhood in the centre of Antwerp, is going to change tremendously. The city has the ambition to redevelop the old slaughterhouse site. When this project is realised, the small district around the Dam will be doubled in size and population. Together with ndvr and the local neighbourhood committee the planning studio aims to develop socio-spatial planning strategies which can improve the social and spatial impacts of the redevelopment. Through analyses, action research and co-productive practices the studio will explore in which ways these strategies can inform the formal planning process. This investigation will contribute to a reflection on the masterplan for the neighbourhood.

Spring 2016
Antwerp 20th Century Belt
From Boredom to Urbanity

Bruno De Meulder, Racha Daher

The 20th century belt of Antwerp urbanized mostly in an impulsive wave after the second world war. Well planned for the mediocre Belgian planning standards, it simultaneously is a quite monotonous, predominantly residential area that lacks the density to generate urban intensity and is to dense to conserve suburban qualities that seem to remain the social consumption norm of the spoiled middle class. The 20th century belt is basically boring. The housing stock urgently requires reinvestment and its often oversized but simultaneously underdeveloped infrastructure. The required large growth of the Antwerp housing stock in the coming two decades has to find a place here, since the city of has no left over space and its inner city only offers limited expansion opportunities. Canalizing a new development wave that extends over the 20th century belt of Antwerp offers the possibility to rethink both housing and infrastructure, to anchor new developments on what is worthwhile and to radically alter the tissue. Otherwise said, the densification of the 20th century belt is a golden opportunity, not so much for an operation of optimalization, but for a radical requalification and redesign towards an urban environment for the 21st century.