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

17 January 2019
Alumnus in the spotlight!

Nguyen Hoang Manh
Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
Master of Human Settlements, 2000-2001

Nguyen Hoang Manh is co-founder of MIA Design Studio. Manh has successfully led his office’s projects throughout Vietnam for more than 18 years. The firm is widely recognized in Vietnam as a leader in innovation, particularly in environmentally-friendly construction. MIA Design Studio works with local materials and experiments with developing new relations between architecture and nature.

Take a look at a few of the realizations on our social media or visit

Are you an alumnus of the MaHS-MaUSP programs yourself and want to share your work? Contact us via

9 January 2019
Water & Forest Urbanisms - Field Workshop, Vietnam

Exciting times ahead for MaHS-MaUSP students!

In the spring semester 2019, a number of Asian universities will work together during an intensive Field_WORK_Shop in the Thua Thien Hue Province of Vietnam’s North Central Coastal region. The majestic geography of the province stretches from the mountains bordering Laos in the west, to the broad Perfume River plain and its tributaries culminating in the Tam Gian Cau Hai Lagoon (the largest lagoon system in Southeast Asia) and finally the East Sea. It as well hosts the UNECSO listed Hue Imperial City (including its citadel) and a number of royal mausoleums nestled in the landscape.

The Field_WORK_Shop will focus on a critical reading of the region’s history, mapping of the contemporary challenges and design across multiple scales, all through the lens of water and forest urbanisms. Students from different universities will work together in a number pre-defined sites. Students will create interpretative cartography in three different landscape conditions: mountains, alluvial plain and lagoon. The Field WORK_Shop will culminate in an exhibition and discussion in Hue (in collaboration with the Hue Department of Construction and Hue Planning Institute).

KU Leuven (Belgium): Professor Kelly Shannon (coordinator)

University of Architecture HCMC (Vietnam): Dr. Tran Mai Anh

Tongji University (Shanghai, China): Professor Li Qing / Professor Harry den Hartog

University of Civil Engineering (Hanoi, Vietnam): Dr. Tuan Pham Anh

Hue University of Science (Vietnam): Dr. Tran Tuan Anh

Yersin Dalat University (Vietnam): Vu Thi Phuong Linh and the Hue Department of Construction: Hoang Hai Minh

8 January 2019
New OSA publications

The special issue "Im/mobilities in the 21st Century" of the Geography Research Forum (vol. 38, 2018) was guest edited by Prof. Kelly Shannon (with Prof. Elissa Rosenberg, Graduate Program in Urban Design, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design). Two OSA PhD submissions were included in the section "Migratory Mobilities." Monica Rivera-Muñoz & Prof. Bruno De Meulder wrote on the "Effects of migration and mobility: Mapping spatial transformation in the peri-urban settlements of Cuenca" and Jeroen Stevens contributed "Prototypes of urbanism: Urban movements occupying Central São Paulo." Please see the link below for the issue.

10 December 2018
Shout it out event: Urban Andes
26 November 2018
OSA Research Group publishes in Landscape Architecture Frontiers (LAF)
5 November 2018
Call for papers/presentations - 1st International Belgian Urbanisms Seminar
25 October 2018
MaHS alumni Eliana Barbosa wins Award for PhD thesis
20 September 2018
Forest & Water Urbanisms, Sonian Forest, Belgium: 2-14 September 2018
19 September 2018
Water Urbanisms of the Andes, Ayacucho, Peru: 22-31 August 2018
18 September 2018
Forest Urbanisms & Plastic (r)Evolutions, Dalat, Vietnam: 2 - 11 April 2018
4 June 2018
MaHS-MaUSP entry one of the winning projects at La Biennale di Venezia 2018
4 May 2018
2018 World Urbanisms - Call for Doctoral Students
22 March 2018
MaHS MaUSP Applications
15 March 2018
2018 World Urbanisms - Call for Alumni presentation
11 January 2018
2018-2019 - VLIR Call for applications
13 November 2017
Alumni publication
27 October 2017
`On worn out landscapes. Mapping wasteland in the Charleroi and Veneto central territories`
25 September 2017
Opening Lecture
29 June 2017
IV World Urbanisms
20 February 2017
Call for non-European Applications!
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
Fall 2018
University City/ City University
Heverlee - Leuven

Bruno De Meulder, Annelies De Nijs and Erik Van Daele

An update of the master plan for the Arenberg University Campus has been commissioned. The fall urbanism studio will fundamentally question the campus model of the 1960s that created the mono-functional and exclusionary enclave. Contemporary university models that acknowledge the intense interaction and intertwinement that universities and the city have will be investigated. The studio’s hypothesis is that sterile campuses can mutate into vibrant urban environments and that universities can imbue a unique form of urbanism into cities. It is understood that respecting heritage and restoring ecologies is high on the agenda, as well is the transition to car-free mobility. Complex and mixed urban tissues will be proposed on ‘university land’ and the studio elaborates innovative development models that do not solely depend on the real estate market, but give way to shared economies, cooperatives and commons.

Fall 2018
North Side Stories 2.0
Concepts and Analysis Studio Fall 2018

Viviana d’Auria, Racha Daher, Erik Van Daele

The studio will revisit the Brussels North Quarter, a contested area with a complex history of infrastructural and social transformation linked to economics, changing visions, residential fabric demolition, vacancy, and migration. The studio will focus on the growing housing shortage in Brussels and design investigations will focus on the development of creative typologies and inclusive real-estate models that reflect 21st century living. Qualitative living entails more than shelter and dwelling and housing cannot be elaborated in isolation. Public space structure, mobility trends, and civic amenities enter into the equation. Through thoughtful integration of the multiple components and realities, as well as in collaboration with different stakeholders, the studio aims to create qualitative urban tissues for an inclusive North Quarter.

Spring 2018
Guayas River Delta, Ecuador

Kelly Shannon, Bruno De Meulder & Viviana d’Auria

Olga Peek, Nelson Carofilis

Guayaquil – Ecuador’s main port and largest settlement – is a 70% self-built city located amidst the most biodiverse estuarine complex of the South Pacific. The city’s first low-income settlements proliferated in ecological fragile zones, expanding the urban frontier into the estuarine landscape.

The urban fabric and public spaces were crafted incrementally over various decades by more than one generation and through a multitude of design decisions. After living many years on stilts, piecemeal densification and basic service provision radically transformed the appearance of incipient ‘squatter’ living spaces into consolidated settlements – that today accommodate close to 40% of the urban population. The incremental tissue has an ongoing use value for younger generations and fulfilled an important role in absorbing new residential spaces, different neighborhood functions and income-generating opportunities and features a variety of block typologies, intermediate and public spaces.

The city’s rapid urban growth also severely compromised the estuarine landscape and natural floodplains exposing diverse urban communities to a number of water-related problems. In the face of climate change, this issue will only become more critical in the nearby future. Guayaquil recurrently experienced the immediate consequences of environmental hazards and is considered one of the world’s coastal cities at highest risk of damaging floods in relation to climate change.

This design studio aims to contribute to a resilient and sustainable future of Guayaquil’s consolidated riverbank settlements. The project explores the extent and the ways in which the incremental estuarine city can take up new social and environmental challenges through the construction of urban design scenarios. Students will engage in a critical exploration and interpretation of the socio-ecological dimensions of the rapidly changing estuarine living spaces across different scales: from the documentation of transformative urban morphologies and daily practices, to cartographic inquiry into ecological infrastructures combining the urban with assets of water and the natural landscape. They will serve to formulate a projective vision for enhancing the quality of urban habitats, while building resilient ecosystems.

The studio builds further on the design workshop Designing Inclusion (organized in 2015 by KU Leuven in collaboration with the University of Guayaquil and with the support of VLIR-UOS), and an ongoing partnership between the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism in Guayaquil and the ICP programmes at the Department of Architecture, KU Leuven.

Spring 2018
Zambeze River Delta, Mozambique

Bruno De Meulder, Wim Wambecq

The landscape urbanism studio Zambeze aims to investigate a future for the Tete-Moatize conurbation. Tete is the main city on the Zambeze river in Mozambique and the administrative center for the Tete province; Moatize is the center of the coal exploitation. Both urbanizations are growing towards each other flowing into one conurbation that embraces the Zambeze and its tributary Revubue, yet equally embracing the mining sites. The local population, that lives primarily and directly from their land, is most vulnerable to the alterations to the landscape caused by this growth and coal mining.

The Zambeze design studio will explore scenarios that build resilience within the local population and remediate the intrinsic tensions between large-scale development rhetoric and the local population’s subsistence; between the diverging ambitions of the PEOT (Special Territorial Planning document) and the local realities; between the impact of the mining exploration and the population’s dependence of rivers as the Zambeze, Revubue and Nhartanda. The expected growth of the conurbation Tete-Moatize can be seen as a moment to reinvent the urban landscape. Urban growth in Mozambique is often spontaneous, but not unmanageable. Settlements can be expected to appear in locations with good accessibility to basic amenities (water and fertile land, food) and good connectivity (mainly road movement so they can sell whatever surplus they produce). The landscape - with the Zambeze as its spearpoint - forms the inevitable base for this new urban realm.

The studio forms part of a series of workshops organized in the context of the South Initiative (with the support of VLIR-UOS), in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering and Technology and the Faculty of Environmental Engineering and Natural Resources of the University of the Zambeze (UniZambeze) and in collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture of the University Eduardo Mondlane.

Spring 2018
Yangtze River Delta, China

Kelly Shannon, Bruno De Meulder, Viviana d’Auria

Stefanie Dens, Christian Nolf

China is presently one of the most aggressive countries in the world with regards to policies that are tackling climate change. At the same time, there are a plethora of ancient treatises and indigenous methods that can serve as inspiration for contemporary climate adaptation and flood management. The studio will develop a collective vision of the Yangtze (Chang Jiang in Chinese) River Delta for the near and long-term futures and thereafter individual projects, across a transect of the delta (and across scales), will be developed to strengthen the vision and more specifically create soft infrastructure strategies to respond to sea level rise and storm surge, the relation of the urban and the rural, hybrid morphologies and typologies of housing, social and private buildings in relation to productive landscapes.

Spring 2018
Climate Change & Contemporary Landscape Urbanism Strategies

Climate change poses one of the greatest threats to humankind’s future. Bold policy and political will must be matched by the precise understanding of science and creative and out-of-the-box alternatives to its future habitation. Urbanism organizes civilization according to man-made rules and the use of space, yet it is anchored to natural world, which the environmental sciences strive to unravel. In the KU Leuven spring of 2018, three studios, on three continents will focus on design responses to climate change, including water and forest urbanisms and the development of new morphologies and typologies to create new relationships between nature and culture, water/

agriculture /forests and cities, the unbuilt and the built and public and private realms. The studios will all work in one studio space, follow a common process, have joint workshops and reviews and culminate in the June/ July World Urbanisms Seminar.

Urbanized deltas—which host more than half of the world’s population and produce the lion’s share of global economic value—are amongst the earth’s most inherently vulnerable territories with regards to climate change and man has yet to figure out how to appropriately respond to the predicted consequences of increased vulnerability, which includes storm surges, sea level rise, both increased flooding and drought, and extreme rainfall. The hazard-prone areas threaten water and food security, human settlement and transport. Clearly the stakes, in terms of human and financial capital, are extremely high and need urgent attention. Design attention and creative thinking is thus part of the necessary ‘game-changers’ that must figure into a paradigm shift for such deltaic landscapes.