United Streetscapes

Promotor: Kris Scheerlinck

As part of radically changing geopolitical relationships at a global scale, tensions of a nationalistic and protectionist nature arise increasingly, often affecting the actual built environment we use and inhabit. As more nations, regions, cities or neighborhoods discuss how to close their borders and restrict access for the ones they might not know, changes occur at an immediate architectural level, where we see more and higher fences, more walls or multiple security-checks appear, while high resolution video surveillance and high-tech face recognition systems are in place 24/7, restricting access to the general public, and this way also eroding the public realm. The future of architecture is defined by its way of dealing with accessibility and permeability.

This international studio allows a limited number of students from the (Dutch-taught) Master in de architectuur and requires 2 study visits on site in New York (fall & spring semester).

The master dissertation project within the Streetscape Territories framework will focus on the challenged accessibility and permeability in architectural landscapes and focus this year (after previously working on post-industrial landscapes in Brooklyn 2013-2018) on the site around the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States.

The idea is to develop and design an alternative architectural model for an open embassy, working within the hypothesis that a new diplomatic building would be developed within the United Nations area, specifically for citizens that are denied access to certain countries, refugees, displaced ethnic groups, unheard minority groups etc. The building would be conceived as a fully collective space and as an extension of the surrounding New York streetscapes.

Each student is required to develop an individual landscape and architectural project to address this programme.

Image: Maros Somora


The studio is understood as a platform of discussion, experimentation, production and reflection, where the student itself defines the paradigm, unfolds the methods of research and design and employs coherent tools to achieve the goals. We do not understand the studio as a consult studio but as a working platform.

The studio will employ a Research by Design/Design by Research approach and develop coherent methods and tools within, taking into account the five action fields:

-theoretical approaches that frame our way of reading or designing space and raise our critical consciousness,

-reference projects that illustrate similar challenges to the formulated topic and provide distance to explore different ways of analyzing or intervening in urban space

-case studies that allow us to investigate all physical, cultural, social and territorial implication of the studied projects on different scales

-systematic review and synthesis of all previous phases, to construct a coherent but critical back-up for reading or intervening in the built environment in the field of architecture or urban design, sometimes combined with a design or intervention proposal

-design of an architectural intervention on the proposed site, coherent with the theoretical framework and topic

The studio will consist of two groups of students, part of them being able to travel to the site in two occasions (one week in fall, two/three weeks in spring) and one group that will have a remote position, that will develop the project from a distance, but relying on the information that the colleagues students provide.

Especially in the first part of the studio (fall semester), the studio will work as one team to share the obtained information through an intensive mapping (graphical, video, textual) of the site.

The Master dissertation studio is part of the NYhub the Faculty of Architecture has set up in New York. see: https://arch.kuleuven.be/english/international/the-new-york-hub

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