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

13 November 2017
Alumni publication

Our 2015-2017 Alumni Elena Kasselouri and Gabriella Georgakaki published findings of their thesis in Ground Up: More info at:

27 October 2017
`On worn out landscapes. Mapping wasteland in the Charleroi and Veneto central territories`

PhD Final Defense of Cecília Furlan

Promoters: Prof. Bruno De Meulder and Prof. Paola Viganò/ Auditorium 200 L; 00.06 Celestijnenlaan 200 L; 3001 Heverlee.

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
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
Upcoming events
Recent studios
Spring 2018
Studio Guayaquil
Re-designing the incremental city in times of climate change

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
Studio Zambeze
Designing resilience in a continuously changing landscape

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.

Fall 2017
Alternative futures for the Antwerp Airport
Participatory Planning

The planning studio of 2017 focuses on the future of the Antwerp Airport, a small airport located in the southeast of the inner city. Various local activist groups, experts as well as some local politicians are questioning the future of this airport, as it is surrounded by residential areas, and emphasise the fact that the airport is essentially in a deficit, and survives solely because of subsidies by the Flemish Government. Nevertheless, recent investments have been made to enlarge the runway and build a new arrival hall. Recently, the initiative ‘Vliegerplein’ was established, a so-called ‘citizen-platform’, which aims to bring together the different voices and initiatives opposing the existence of the airport. Vliegerplein wants to start a dialogue and investigate positive alternative futures that are economically, ecologically and socially sustainable, for what could become ‘a fantastic open space of 190 ha’. This embodies a switch of strategy, as in the past the activist groups have been mostly focused on the ‘legal battle’ against the airport. In this studio we, together with the socio-spatial research office Endeavour, collectively investigate how we can support Vliegerplein in developing a vision and strategy to broaden their outreach and impact, create new coalitions, encourage others to envision alternative futures for the airport, and trigger a process of ‘re-commoning’ the space.

Fall 2017
North Side Stories
Concepts and Analysis

The 2017 Concepts & Analysis studio revisits the cursed northern district of Brussels, an area that developed on the upstream flood plain of the Zenne and underwent a notorious, late modern urban restructuring in the 1970. On hindsight the area is actually the product of an amazing accumulation of large scale infrastructural interventions and upgrades: canals and harbor installations, railways and yards, trams, subway, boulevards, viaducts, express roads and the like, that continuously reconfigured the area. As it goes with big plans, more often than not, the reconfigurations remained unfinished. Today, amidst the general indifference for the doomed district, some interests for the area emerge here and there - that are however being simultaneously and increasingly abandoned by public administrations concentrated in the area. A general lack of concern characterizes attitudes that on the rebound make the area indicated for those that don’t find place in the city, such as refugees and the homeless. As specific as these groups might be, they perfectly endorse the generic lack of attachment with the area. Is there anyone in the area that does not radiate that he/she is ‘not from here’?

As in previous editions, the Concepts & Analysis studio aims to anchor the concepts and strategies it develops on a thorough and multi-faceted analysis of the area while simultaneously being on the outlook for possibilities to address the daunting social and ecological issues that are dominating our time window in a relevant way.

Since 2013, the Concepts & Analysis studio runs in collaboration with the Faculty of Architecture (KU Leuven) and various stakeholders.

Fall 2017
HH: NS / EW - Limburg

The Urbanism Studio addresses the long term livability of Houthalen-Helchteren, a municipality that, as so many in the world, is cruelly torn apart by massive traffic infrastructures of the post war era: highways and upgraded national roads. The supra-local infrastructures (predominantly NS oriented) and urban fabrics (predominantly E oriented) indeed mismatch dramatically and consequently reciprocally hinder each other.

The recent rejection by the Council of State of the last highway-bypass project (last episode of 40 years of contestation), makes evident that a new epoch for infrastructure planning, away from top down planning, but also away from one-dimensional heavily engineered motorway imageries, is urgently required. The studio ambitions to canalize the energy of this emerging epoch that embraces socio-ecological concerns and innovative mobility possibilities and considers pressing needs of today simultaneously with desired long term options while reinterpreting the resourcefulness of the territory.

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?