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

14 October 2016
MaHS alumni Olga Peek + Nelson Carofilis won 2nd prize at the CIU Habitat competition.

MaHS Alumni Olga Peek and Nelson Carofilis and team from the University of Guayaquil win second price in CIU-HABITAT academic competition with proposal for community-driven waterfront transformation and climate-change adaptation in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The project is currently exhibited at Habitat III in Quito. See for more details

25 May 2016
Call for European Applications!

Applications for the MaHS and MaUSP programs by European citizens are due on 1st June 2016. We hope to welcome you in Leuven our next academic year! For further questions and queries please contact (administrative coordination) or (academic coordination).

24 May 2016
The next economy - OSA at IABR

In February 2016, OSA organized an intensive urban design and landscape urbanism workshop in Houthalen-Helchteren. The workshop results are exhibited at the Architecture Biennale IABR 2016 in Rotterdam as part of an installation by T.OP Limburg and Z33: ‘Het Kolenspoor getest’. Atelier Houthalen-Helchteren reflected on envisioning new coalitions along the Coal Track, for a contextual energy and materials transition as catalysts for Limburg’s next –circular- economy. Please join us on June the 1st at the IABR in Rotterdam for the presentation of the workshop results! More details on the workshop are available here, more info on the visit can be found here.

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 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.

Spring 2016
Kathmandu Valley reconstruction:
A pilot project for post-earthquake Bungamati

Stefanie Dens, Annelies De Nijs

On 25 April 2015 a 7,8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. The hazard has destroyed most of the traditional settlements and monuments in Kathmandu Valley, leading to major displacement streams. A daunting reconstruction challenge lies ahead. Settlements require a sustainable development strategy that incorporates earthquake responsive tactics. Studio Kathmandu joins the UN-Habitat coordinated reconstruction and delivers the action plan that is developed with the local community. Urban design investigations result in re-development strategies that take into account not only the genius loci, local housing traditions and construction techniques but also (new) livelihoods, heritage and knowledge. Strategies operate on different scales and across sectors and address ecological as well as economic aspects, dealing with typological transformation as well as with water management, sanitation and waste collection. Tailor-made and coproduced redevelopment strategies are translated in strategic projects for key areas. In this framework Bungamati, a Newari town that finds its origins in 600 AD that was badly hit by the earthquake, is chosen as a pilot project for a contextualized reconstruction process. The studio is run in collaboration with UN-Habitat Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and the Arcadis Shelter Program.

Spring 2016
São Paulo
Requalifying Infrastructure, Redefining urbanism

Eliana Quieroz Barbosa, Patricia Capanema Fernandes

São Paulo is full of dichotomies and contradictions. Regardless of sites and locations, everywhere, everything goes vertical whereas the city presents itself as an urbanized horizontal carpet. Its center is marginalized whereas its margins are occupied by booming centralities. Speculative real estate development destroys well-functioning neighborhoods and erases traditional typologies, with monotonous apartment blocks. 30% of Sao Paulo’s housing units remain however substandard. Mobility Infrastructure provision has been deficient while around 23 million people commute daily, using inefficient infrastructure that occupies environmentally sensitive areas such as floodplains. Today, however, after a decade of pervasive real estate speculation and amongst others a related collapse of the water system, the opportunity arises to reclaim the floodplains, while re-considering patterns of urbanization. The landscape urbanism studio proposes to unravel the city´s dichotomies by exploring how mobility infrastructure and landscape features could work together in the future development of the city. The studio is run in collaboration with McKenzie University and the NGOs SOS Mata Atlântica, and Parque Minhocao.