UCL Home

B-Pro: MArch Urban Design


The MArch Urban Design (UD) is a 12-month programme that brings together a new generation of designers and thinkers from across the world in order to provide a rich and challenging space for long-term research on urbanisation and design. It is part of B-Pro, the umbrella structure for post-professional Masters programmes at The Bartlett School of Architecture, directed by Professor Frédéric Migayrou.

Studio inquiry ranges across an expansive set of scales and bodies of knowledge culminating with a design project and thesis. Environmental and ecological questions are prioritised within a critical structure that embraces the dispersed, often paradoxical nature of contemporary urbanism. The curriculum introduces students to various fields such as archaeology, anthropology, ecological history, governance, law, media, philosophy, planning and political theory. Cross-studio dialogue is emphasised, as is a collective work ethic.

B-Pro Director: Professor Frédéric Migayrou
B-Pro Deputy Director: Andrew Porter

Programme Leader: Adrian Lahoud

UDI Stream Leader: Adrian Lahoud
UDII Stream Leader: Claudia Pasquero

There are two streams within Urban Design, UDI and UDII.

MArch Urban Design - UDI: The Project for the Mediterranean

Comprising 25 nation states, 13 language groups, and almost half a billion people, the Mediterranean defines the encounter between Africa, Europe and Asia. Its shores are caught by two fundamental and ongoing transformations: the Arab Spring and the financial crisis. At the same time, the Mediterranean Sea has become the most highly policed waterway on earth as the European Union attempts to insulate itself from flows of migrants from Africa and Asia. Add to this the unprecedented levels of diaspora and conflict in the Levant and there is no other space with more at stake in terms of coexistence between human beings and with their natural environment. Furthermore, in a number of different ways the Mediterranean manifests the problem of the 'weak state', whether through financial crisis, corporate dominance, institutional failure or military rule. Simultaneously then, a number of new non- and extra-governmental polities are emerging, raising important questions to do with citizenship, belonging and the idea of a public. These mutations, while placing new constraints on urban transformation, also open new spaces of financial investment evidenced by opportunistic flows of capital, especially from the Persian Gulf and resource revenues from the North of Africa.

Beginning in September 2012 and concluding in September 2015, ‘The Project for the Mediterranean’ consists of three one-year design studios with an accompanying public calendar of symposia, conferences, lectures and roundtables. The project aims to build a community of academic, professional and public interest around the agency of design and its role in transforming the future of this region.

UDI Stream Leader: Adrian Lahoud

History & Theory Coordinator: Godofredo Pereira

Research Clusters

RC11: Sam Jacoby, Adrian Lahoud

RC12: Peter Besley, Hannah Corlett, Jonathan Kendalll

RC14: Platon Issaias, Camila Sotomayor

RC15: Ross Exo Adams, Beth Hughes, Davide Sacconi

MArch Urban Design - UDII: Urban Morphogenesis

MArch Urban Design (UD)II engages urban design as a computational practice to prefigure alternative models of the city represented as a complex dynamic system. The ambition of the stream is to stimulate a trans-disciplinary discourse that reaches wider academic research networks as well as scientific organisations involved in the study of the city as a living system and in the development of future bio-digital technologies.

The stream adopts analogue, biological and digital computational design to draw terrains of negotiation between strategic and tactical forms of intervention. Algorithmic coding enables the study of biological models and the testing of iterative, adaptive and resilient design solutions applicable to a broader eco-social domain, generating a multiplicity of responses and effects, ranging scales and regimes, from the molecular to the territorial, from the quasi-instantaneous to the geological.

UDII is strictly studio-based and students are encouraged to work in teams and to engage with design as a form of research; current research clusters focus on the urban application of models of collective intelligence inspired by ants, corals and slime moulds, on the development of resilient and distributed bio-energy infrastructures, on the engineering of bio-digital soil remediation, urban landscapes and on the material articulation of adaptive water management territories.

While escaping conventional urban categorisation, the Research Clusters engage specific regions that are gaining a new centrality, as both producers of the resources absorbed by existing global cities and as receivers of the surplus to society – the human and material waste which is a necessary byproduct of the contemporary capitalist system. Current locations include the copper mining corridor in Arizona, USA, the Tar Sands region in Alberta, Canada and the water basin of Manaus, Brazil.

UDII Stream Leader: Claudia Pasquero

Coding and Media tutors: Immanuel Koh, Iker Mugarra

History and Theory tutors: Emmanouil Zaroukas, Mollie Claypool

Research Clusters

RC16: Claudia Pasquero, Marco Poletto

RC17: Ulrika Karlsson, Maj Plemenitas

RC18: Eduardo Rico, Enriqueta Llabres, Zachary Flucker


The Bartlett Prospective or ‘B-Pro’ is the new structure for the Post-professional Masters Programmes at the Bartlett School of Architecture. It is directed by the Bartlett Professor and Chair of the School, Frédéric Migayrou.

Post-professional programmes include the MArch GAD (Graduate Architectural Design)and the MArch UD (Urban Design). All programmes are 12 months full time.

In the first phase of the B-Pro the MArch GAD programme was redesigned in the 2011-12 academic year. This has been joined by the MArch UD programme for the 2012-13 academic year.

The B-Pro is a new umbrella structure for prospective architecture, urbanism, design and theory at an advanced level.

Students on the B-Pro programmes will develop research and speculative design that is underpinned by contemporary design theory. There is a particular emphasis on the impact of digital theory, politics and culture within the contemporary city and their influence on the conception and production of architectural space.

Research and design throughout the B-Pro extends from the tools of spatial and demographic analysis, to the software of creation and production, the hardware of digital fabrication and manufacture through to the organization, infrastructure and choreography of the contemporary city.

Both the MArch GAD and UD programmes are driven by research clusters. Each cluster develops it’s own manifesto for design and employs strategies and techniques that are unique to their pedagogy and particular design ethos. Within the GAD programme the clusters predominantly focus on a number of ways to deploy computational tools, digital techniques and their connection to tools of fabrication. The UD programme clusters develop their differing approaches through both the lens of various themes such as politics, archeology and ecology and the challenges posed by particular cities within in the lands of the Mediterranean basin.

Since September 2012 the B-Pro has been housed within a new annex to the Bartlett School of Architecture at the Royal Ear Hospital (REH) in nearby Capper Street. This is the first new building occupied by the school since they took up residence in Wates House in 1975. Within the REH large open plan studios have been created  to house both the GAD and UD programmes. It is the first time the Bartlett has been able to offer a studio culture for an entire programme and the marks a significant change in student space. In addition, the REH is a new hub for evening lectures, seminars and exhibitions.

B-Pro Structure

B-Pro Director: Professor Frédéric Migayrou
B-Pro Deputy Director: Andrew Porter

MArch GAD Programme Leader: Alisa Andrasek
MArch UD Programme Leader: Adrian Lahoud

B-Pro & Programmes Administrator: Tom Mole
Send Tom a message


MArch Urban Design (UD) uses a module structure based on a credit system where the total number of credits over one year is 180 credits.

Early in Term 1, once the students have been allocated into Clusters students start working, with their allocated tutors, on the four key modules of the course. The History and Theory module, BENVGD05, is taught by six tutors who work with the students in Terms 1 and 2.


BENVGD02 Strategic Urban Design
Credits: 40
Assessment: Coursework Term 1+2

BENVGD03 Detailed Urban Design
Credits: 40
Assessment: Coursework Term 1+2

BENVGD04 Urban Design Report
Credits: 60
Assessment: Coursework Term 3 + summer term

BENVGD05 History and Theory of Urban Design
Credits: 40
Assessment: Coursework Term 1+2


BENVGD05 History and Theory of Urban Design

This is a lecture-based module which provides the students with a general introduction to the history and theory of urban design. The content of the lecture series varies to some extent from year to year, to reflect the evolution of design programme topics, but it typically includes lectures on the history of urbanism (focusing on the last 100 years and particularly on contemporary developments) and on current theories related to urban design, such as space syntax, generative systems and theories related to the issue of sustainability.

The pedagogical aim of this module is to provide the students with an introduction to the history and theory of urban design, with specific emphasis on contemporary issues and on fields of knowledge that are pertinent to their design investigations.

The intended learning outcome of this module is for students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the history and theory of urban design, as well as their application to urban design project work.

BENVGD02 Strategic Urban Design

This is a studio-based module that leads the students, by means of a series of design programmes, through the successive phases of an urban design project, from the initial research and conceptual stage down to a strategic design proposal. This research and design project includes a field trip.

The pedagogical aim of this module is to make students develop comprehensive urban design projects that are both analytically rigorous and creative in terms of design.

The intended outcome is for students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the range of urban design skills required for each stage of project development, from basic research to overall strategic design.

BENVGD03 Detailed Urban Design

This is a studio-based module that leads the students, by means of a series of design steps, from the strategic urban design level of module BENVGD02, to a detailed level of physical design.

The pedagogical aim of this module is to make students develop detailed urban design projects that are both analytically rigorous and creative in terms of design.

The intended outcome is for students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the range of skills required to develop a detailed urban design proposal.

BENVGD04 Urban Design Report

This module provides the pedagogical context for the students to prepare the final element of the coursework, the Urban Design Report, which consists partly of a design component and partly of a written component. Students are expected, with the support of their tutors, to be highly self-motivated in the course of this module, proposing their own topic of investigation and design. This topic can either be a continuation of the design work that was initiated earlier in the year within modules BENVGD02 and BENVGD03, or a completely new design project. The subject of the Urban Design Report is negotiated between the student and his or her unit tutors, in coordination with the Course Director.

Design component The design part of the Urban Design Report is to be presented in the form of a pin-up presentation during the final end of year crit as well as in the form of a hard-copy portfolio.

Written component The written part of the Urban Design Report is a 5,000-10,000 word illustrated document. It must describe the initial ideas that underpin the urban design proposal, the design investigation and associated information that has been gathered during the process and a conclusion that summarises the way in which the design work informs the initial ideas. The pedagogical aim of this module is to encourage students to engage with analytical rigour and design originality in an individual piece of research and design development.

The intended learning outcome of this module is for students to acquire a knowledge and understanding of the research methods and design skills required to produce a major written and design thesis.


The MArch Urban Design course is run by a full-time Programme Leader, with a Stream Leader and a History and Theory Coordinator. The design ‘Cluster’ (approximately 15 students per cluster for MArch Urban Design) is the basis of design teaching and learning. Each Cluster is taught by two design staff and with whom students have regular studio contact.

Staff teaching on the programme currently include:

Professor Frédéric Migayrou
B-Pro Director
Chair of the UD Exam Board
View Frédéric's profile
Send Frédéric an email

Andrew Porter
Deputy B-Pro Director
View Andrew's profile
Send Andrew an email

UD Programme Leader

Adrian Lahoud
View Adrian's profile
Send Adrian an email

UDI History & Theory Coordinator

Godofredo Pereira
View Godofredo's profile
Send Godofredo an email

UDI Research Clusters


Sam Jacoby
Send Sam an email

Adrian Lahoud
Send Adrian an amail


Peter Besley
Send Peter an email

Hannah Corlett
Send Hannah an email

Jonathan Kendall
Send Jonathan an email


Platon Issaias
Send Platon an email

Camila Sotomayor
Send Camila an email


Ross Exo Adams

Beth Hughes
Send Beth an email

Davide Sacconi
Send Davide an email

UDII Stream Leader

Claudia Pasquero
Send Claudia an email

UDII Coding and Media tutors

Immanuel Koh
Send Immanuel an email

Iker Mugarra
Send Iker an email

UDII History and Theory tutors

Mollie Claypool
Send Mollie an email

Emmanouil Zaroukas
Send Emmanouil an email

UDII Research Clusters


Claudia Pasquero
Send Claudia an email

Marco Poletto
Send Marco an email


Ulrika Karlsson
Send Ulrika an email

Maj Plemenitas
Send Maj an email


Eduardo Rico
Send Eduardo an email

Enriqueta Llabres

Zachary Flucker

Clusters and Showcases

The MArch Urban Design programme offers a large number of research-focused clusters, all of which allow students to pursue a rigorous approach to architecture within a highly speculative and creative context.

placeholder MArch Urban Design Cluster 11
Coming soon
placeholder MArch Urban Design Cluster 12
Coming soon
RC14 2015 MArch Urban Design Cluster 14
Platon Issaias, Camila Sotomayor - Bodies/Landscapes/Commodities: On Tourism and War - The Mediterranean. A gigantic Petrie dish of political, economic and social flux wreaking growth and ruin ...
RC15 2015 MArch Urban Design Cluster 15
Godofredo Pereira, Samaneh Moafi - Axiomatic Earth - The Mediterranean’s urban history runs parallel with histories of production and extraction, with histories of trade and exchange, with histories of finance and ...
placeholder MArch Urban Design Cluster 16
Coming soon
placeholder MArch Urban Design Cluster 17
Coming soon
placeholder MArch Urban Design Cluster 18
Coming soon

History Theory

History Theory Seminars

This seminar program sets out toward four areas of inquiry: the Mediterranean, the urban, the typological and the territorial. Each of which are understood as a series of problems organised according to scale. At the beginning of each series, an introductory lecture will present the dispute over the terms that make its title. A continuous lecture program drawing on a wide range of disciplines is scheduled for every academic year. This program draws heavily on the opportunities afforded by the program’s location in Central London to generate an intense culture of debate around urban design.

The Urban

‘Urban Design as a profession and a science’

Sam Jacoby

The second half of the nineteenth century saw the scientific urbanism of Cerdà pitted against a culturist city planning by Sitte, which were both later absorbed by the Modern Movement. With the Modernist urban planning doctrine charged with the decline of cities, the concept of urban design as an alternative reasoning of the processes involved in physically shaping cities consolidated in the 1960s. While in America its proponents, such as Kevin Lynch, Jane Jacobs, and Christopher Alexander, propagated practical architectural solutions with the aim to influence urban renewal through the design of public spaces and changes in policy, the European Neo-rationalist sought to recover the historical city, with Rossi formulating a new urban science that remained indebted to Modernism.

‘To Fill the Earth: Political Ontologies of Urbanization’

Ross Exo Adams

What is ‘urbanization’? More than any other theory, project or treatise, Cerdá’s General Theory of Urbanization can retroactively be seen as the most prescient paradigm for describing contemporary urbanization. This lecture will examine his work, covering both textual and visual materials, exposing his remarkably prescient theory in which he proposed to replace what he saw as the ‘anachronistic’ ciudad (city) with the ‘modern’ figure of the ‘urbe’, a generic, scaleless template of territorialization engulfed in expansive ‘urbanización’—a term he coined. It will examine the extent to which, as Cerdá had anticipated, urbanization has actually eclipsed the city, imposing an epistemological fracture between the two and effectively consigning the ‘city’ to a historical vestige. Central to the theory of urbanizacion is the concept Cerdá calls ‘vialidad’. This lecture will show how this term not only formed the basis of his entire theory but also provided the outline for a new configuration of modern power to emerge within it.

‘Spatialising Co-existence and the Problem of Unity’

Adrian Lahoud

This seminar will explore the twin-sided myths of unity and difference as they apply to urban discourse, where unity typically names the totalizing excess of modernism and difference names the attempted remediation of the city in the name of pluralism. It proceeds from a simple but important premise: questions of difference cannot be reduced to formal appearance. Beginning with the legacy of Rowe and Koetter’s Collage City in which questions of form, spatial reasoning and political rationality are severed, this seminar will turn to a forgotten high-modern urban project in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli by Oscar Niemeyer in which multiple rationalities addressing the formation of a modern nation state co-exist within a supposedly unified formal setting.

‘Utopia as a Structuring Principle of Modernity’

Ross Exo Adams

First published in 1516, Thomas More’s Utopia has given the modern world a lasting structure in which to project our horizon of expectation in imagining possible ‘elsewheres’. Within recent architectural discourse, the idea has become a kind of catch-all phrase to either refer to fantastical counter-worlds or to condemn supposedly irrational thought. In either case, ‘Utopia’ loosely persists as the non-real; that which cannot be realized. Proposing a more problematic understanding of the term ‘Utopia’, this lecture will trace a genealogy of political spaces and Utopian responses to them, from More’s work to contemporary understandings of the notion. In this way, it will look to reveal a tight unity between space, time and politics that operates at the core of any Utopian projection. Utopia, in this sense, does not just embody an ‘elsewhere’, but also carries with it traces of an ahistorical and, most importantly an apolitical frame. From here, another way to understand the term ‘Utopia’ emerges as u-topos, suggesting the negation of topos. Rejecting the ideologically loaded use of the term, Utopia today may be more effective if understood by Carl Schmitt’s notion of ‘spaceless universalism’. We will therefore look to expand our scope to interrogate not only ‘utopian’ projects per se, but also projects which have been realised that expose a certain tendency within modernity to liberate life from the concrete, material world. Far from referring to the ‘non-real’, is it not possible to conceive of Utopia as the condition approximated today as life is evermore integrated into a single, techno-economic (urban) continuum of movement, connectivity and ‘non-places’?


Tim Ivison

Biopolitics and biopower are concepts developed by Michel Foucault in the late 1970s to describe various strategies of the state to quantify and regulate the biological life of citizens through a paradigm of discipline and security. In this lecture we will revisit Foucault’s various reflections on biopolitics in his Collège de France lectures from the period, as well as the definition he provides in The History of Sexuality Vol. 1, the Will to Knowledge. We will try to situate Foucault’s theory in relation to his own political moment, as well as introduce some of the key latter theorists of biopolitics and its relevance for contemporary social thought.

The Sea

‘The Corrupting Sea’

Peregrine Hordern

The Corrupting Sea is a history of the relationship between people and their environments in the Mediterranean region over some 3,000 years. It advocates a novel analysis of this relationship in terms of microecologies and the often extensive networks to which they belong. This is the first major work since Braudel’s The Mediterranean to address the problems of studying the area as a whole and on a long time-scale. The authors emphasize the value of comparison between prehistory, Antiquity and the Middle Ages. They draw on an exceptionally wide range of evidence - literary works, documents, archaeology, scientific reports and social anthropology. The themes addressed include past conceptions of the Mediterranean, its historiography, the history of primary production, the rhythms of exchange and communication, the pace of environmental and technological change, the geography of religion, and the contribution of Mediterranean social anthropology to an assessment of the region’s unity. The book offers a provocative and innovative approach to the history of the Mediterranean, explaining what has made Mediterranean history distinctive.

‘What is the Mediterranean?‘

Cyprian Broodbank

Ever since the appearance of Braudel’s first classic work and, recently, The Corrupting Sea by Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell, the scope and quality of large-scale interpretative syntheses of the Classical to early modern Mediterranean have stood in stark contrast to the lack of similarly integrated, up-to-date study of the basin’s immensely rich prehistory. This is despite the fact that almost all the fundamental social, economic, cultural and technological developments in this cockpit of world history originated and started to coalesce at a notably earlier date, and are therefore primarily accessible only through archaeology. The Making of the Middle Sea is conceived on an ambitious temporal and spatial scale that embraces a time-span stretching from the earliest Palaeolithic colonisation to the threshold of the Classical world, and addresses the African, Levantine and European sides of the Mediterranean in equal measure. It identifies a cluster of key features that in combination make the Mediterranean a genuinely unique theatre, distinct from other inland seas and ‘mediterraneoid’ environments, and weaves these together with the impact of climate change to explain the long-term human divergences and convergences in and around the basin that brought the cultural, social and political world of the ancient Mediterranean into being.

‘Mapping the Sea: Thalassopolitics and Spatial Practices’

Lorenzo Pezzani

Space is always registered through a medium. Many of the forces that condition the environment are poorly perceived, a critical question then, is how to make visible currently imperceptible phenomena able to transform the way in which we think and operate. This seminar will take the maritime environment as its main focus. In recent years, architects and spatial practitioners at large have often worked with activists groups and non-governmental organizations to map complex events and denounce new forms of spatial injustice. The vast majority of these endeavors, though, have focused on the bounded territories that define land and have largely ignored the ocean, often considered by classic geopolitical approaches as a placeless, and hence unchartable, void. Nevertheless, as the ocean started to emerge as a field of activity and research for military forces, global capitalism and scientific research, attempts to “know” the ocean have multiplied and have provided various actors with new oceanographic tools. In this seminar, we will look at how certain novel forms of reading and measuring the ocean by expanding the aesthetic and technological conditions of what can be considered (evidence of) a crime, have brought to the fore novel legal and political issues, transforming the sea in an arena of conflict.

‘The Mediterranean: A New Imaginary’

Adrian Lahoud

What is the Mediterranean? Every discipline will answer this question in its own way. A Mediterranean story told according to kinship structures and small communities for anthropologists; micro-regions or biotopes for environmental historians; naval technologies, charts, and sea routes for oceanographers; surveys, vernacular building types, and colonial master plans for architects and urbanists. Not to mention the significant disagreements within disciplines, or for that matter, those forms of knowledge transmitted through oral rather than written traditions, such as the migratory routes of pastoralists, the cultivation practices of farmers, or the navigation of fishing vessels. Within each frame of knowledge, a different distribution of relevant and irrelevant points will be plotted, and in each case the outline of a different Mediterranean will unfold.

This seminar will explore a large-scale and contemporary problem currently reorganizing the space of the Mediterranean, the nexus formed between climate change, desertification in the Sahel, trans-Saharan migration and European securitization of the sea. In doing so the presentation argues that issues of scale bound to concepts of regionalism or locality must be reconsidered and replaced in order to allow for relations that are no longer proximate.


‘History of the Present’

Tim Ivison

This lecture will address some of the key concepts in the critical method of Michel Foucault, dealing primarily with The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969). Renowned for his unique form of historical epistemology, The Archaeology of Knowledge is a key moment in the development of Foucault’s methodology and the larger project of a ‘history of the present’. Controversial amongst historians and philosophers alike, Foucault’s often-radical arguments on historiography and theory are still debated today and this lecture will only be able to introduce the broad outlines of Foucault’s operative methodological categories. Some of the concepts covered in the lecture will include historical a priori, episteme, problématique, archaeology, discourse/discursive formation, archive, and power/knowledge.

‘The Life of the Archive’

Susan Schuppli

The archive is not, suggests Michel Foucault, the repository to which artefacts and documents are consigned in order that “they might settle and collect dust” on the contrary it is a site of regeneration that refuses the inclination towards torpor through the sustained “miracle of potential resurrection”. Artefacts when strategically extracted from the archive are likewise inclined towards deviance in the sense that they can testify against their previously authored histories — becoming in effect hostile witnesses to the past. Antoinette Burton author of Dwelling in the Archive argues that: “all archives are provincial, interested, calcified in both deliberate and unintentional ways; that all archives are in the end fundamentally unreliable.” Whereas Foucault’s reading of the archive insists that its tendency towards revivification is precisely that which constitutes its inherent vitality; a dynamism he locates within the very condition of unreliability that Burton finds problematic. “Far from being that which unifies everything said in the great confused murmur of a discourse, far from being only that which ensures that we exist in the midst of preserved discourse, it is that which differentiates discourses in their multiple existence and specifies them in their own duration.”

‘Distance and Proximity: New Forms of Critical Engagement’

Lorenzo Pezzani

This seminar looks at (spatial) practices that have tried to go beyond a modern idea of critique as a practice of distance (the critical distance that would allow the critic to detach himself from the situation at hand and see things from afar) and have instead made of proximity/complicity a form of research and intervention in the real. To put it in Bruno Latour’s words, “the critic is not the one who debunks, but the one who assembles. The critic is not the one who lifts the rugs from under the feet of the naive believers, but the one who offers the participants arenas in which to gather.” By looking at various practices dealing with space and its representations, I will try to investigate what it means to produce “images, languages and signs are constitutive of reality and not of its representation” (Lazzarato) and what it entails for architects to engage with shifting networks of agency.

‘Scale as Apprenticeship, as Pedagogy’

Adrian Lahoud

Though it is both implied and brought into question with every form of inquiry, scale is a concept that has avoided conceptual examination in its own right. Thinking scale implies thinking a correlation of knowledge and practice to an object according to some proportion, where proportion always guides the scalar correlation according to some set of values. The conventional, ready to hand character of these conventions often obscures the values on which they are based and the conditions of their formation. Within architecture for example, disciplinary concerns have historically coalesced at a particular scale as a result of the questions asked, not because they are inherent to architecture as a kind of natural property. By attending to the formation of scale in response to conditions of material complexity, this presentation establishes a structure for re-thinking the formation of knowledge - not as a closed, ordered and unified body - but rather as a sequence of ongoing questions that radically conflate traditional scalar divisions of thought.


‘What is Territory?‘

Godofredo Pereira

This lecture will introduce the ambiguous and often contradictory uses of the term "territory" across several disciplines, differentiating it from the similar concepts of land and terrain but also body-politic and commons. Exploring territory’s different genealogies, the lecture will be divided in three sections: territory as sovereignty, as process and as network. Finally, by bringing these different strands together it will show how the term’s current ambiguity is in fact the reflection of a wider debate on the geopolitics of globalization.

‘Vertical Territory’

Godofredo Pereira

Departing from 19th century influence of geological and mineralogy discourses to political narratives and legal regimes, this lecture will introduce the notion of “vertical territory”, as a conceptual shift that foregrounds not only the importance of material agency to politics and history, but also the relevance of evolving technical and scientific modes of representation. Introducing the notion of ‘anthropocene’ as the discovery of a new global stratigraphic horizon, this lecture will address the growing relevance of territory’s vertical dimension as the manifestation of an epistemic shift whereby territory is no longer conceived in relation to the management of population, but instead in relation to the management of complex material circulations.

‘Jurisdictions and Sovereignty’

Lorenzo Pezzani

This seminar starts from the analysis of the transformation of the Mediterranean into an extended border zone and focuses on the sea as a contested spatial arena or as a paradigm of the friction between "notions of connectivity" (the sea as the space of capital expansion and global trade) and "spatial discontinuities" (the sea as extraterritorial space). Carl Schmitt famously described the sea as an anarchic space in which the impossibility of drawing long-standing and identifiable boundaries made it impossible for European States to establish any durable legal order or found any claim of sovereignty. Far from being a claim of commonality though, the concept of the “free seas” has been used during the centuries both by established and emerging powers to claim freedom of competition and the right to dispose of a space of commerce. It was, in this sense, a problematic but effective notion that had to be maintained thought active intervention of the various powers that claimed it. “Freedom requires policing and mobility requires fixity, and both of these activities require continual efforts to striate the ideally smooth ocean”. Nevertheless, with increasing interaction across oceans and with the growing drive to consider maritime areas themselves as resources, the sea itself has been more and more divided by various forms of legal and spatial enclosure. This process has been also closely related to the technological and scientific possibility to “know” the oceans, as the current interest in mapping the extent of continental shelves to determine states’ jurisdictions over Arctic resources has shown. As a result of this drive to subdivide the ocean, partial boundaries have been established to delimitate areas of decreasing sovereignty, hydrocarbon exploration fields, fishing regions, zones of responsibility for the search and rescue of persons in danger at sea, etc. The seminar will analyse this conflictual territory as a matrix of the contemporary spatial order.

‘Territorial Evidence’

Godofredo Pereira

In recent years several legal conflicts emerged where the main witness on trial weren’t people but material entities: samples of mud, oil or water, amongst many others. This lecture will discuss the production of “territorial evidence” as the investment of things with a power to speak in the name of a territory. Based on my own research of Venezuela’s recent shift in territorial politics and its reliance on heavy-oil classification, remote sensing and forensic procedures, I will show how techno scientific production of evidence is mobilized to substantiate political actions and legal transformations, thus intervening in complex epistemic conflicts over the control of land, natural resources and modes of living.

‘Circulation, Traffic, Nomos’

Ross Exo Adams

One of the fundamental structuring principles of environmental design (from architecture to urban design to ‘global planning’), this concept is often taken for granted as a self-evident category of spatial thought. Its appearance as an neutral, passive category belies a far more intimate history this concept has with modern political form. This lecture will trace a history of the concept of ‘circulation’ from its roots in ancient thought, as a mark of divine order, to its introduction as a cognitive model to be deployed in the organization of the material world, to its centrality as a principle within the construction of the modern, territorial state and its economic disposition. Its ‘emergence’ as the fundamental principle of the modern city, seen as a liberating notion, will in turn be problematized as a depoliticized historical aberration useful for the construction of a far more totalizing spatio-political order.


‘What is typology?‘

Sam Jacoby

Today we commonly understand typology as a formal classification according to use and morphology, with the origin of this functionalist-formalist thinking attributed to Durand’s didactic teaching at the École Polytechnique. An architectural theory of type, however, was only first formulated by Quatremère de Quincy in 1825 and derived from an encyclopedic systematization of knowledge and an art historical discourse. Despite their fundamentally different understanding of architecture, Quatremère’s theory and Durand’s method both conceptualized and utilized abstraction, and shared the desire to define a system of architecture with a new disciplinary knowledge. The epistemological similarities and differences between Quatremère and Durand are perhaps best understood through Le Roy’s first distinction between the history and theory of architecture.

‘Motive and Transformation: Semper’s Style and Unger’s Morphology’

Sam Jacoby

This is a discussion of two historical lecture series that were formed by the dichotomy emerging with Quatremère and Durand. Semper’s London Lectures of 1853–54 rethought type as a means to analyze history through a critical method of comparison and considered the evolution of artistic motives expressed in the formation of styles. Based on his theory of dressing (Bekleidung) and material transformation (Stoffwechsel), the lectures anticipated the arguments of the Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts (1860–63), an ambitious compromise between a material and conceptual reading of culture and its history. In the Berlin Lectures of 1964–65, Ungers developed a morphological classification of museums intended to be absolute and seemingly applicable to all formal and spatial types. However in his later theories, he shifted to an argument of morphological transformation and fragmented complementarity justified by metaphors and themes.

‘The Typo-diagrammatic and the Dispositif’

Sam Jacoby

Since Le Roy in the eighteenth century, typology can be defined as a diagrammatic function that is made specific to the discipline of architecture through drawing. This position was affirmed, yet simultaneously reversed, when in the late 1990s the diagram displaced typology in providing a generic organisation and the possibility of structural specificity. While the diagram remains formal-structural, and is often interpreted as a homogenizing process, Foucault’s dispositif or ‘apparatus’ suggests a heterogeneous system of relations that encompasses all human discourses and knowledge.


‘From Sustainability to Radical Ecology’

Godofredo Pereira

Although recent years have seen ecology and sustainability emerge together within architectural discourse, this lecture will stress their distinct political and spatial implications. Departing from a critical analysis of the ‘Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change’, this lecture will distinguish concerns with the “protection” of nature and the “sustainable” management of natural resources, from conceptions of ecology where nature emerges as a political epistemological problem: not only it can no longer be divided from culture, but also there are not one but many conceptions of nature. Drawing on the parallel emergence of ecology and cybernetics, and from the writings of Bateson, Guattari and Escobar, a critique to hegemonic forms of development will be developed to argue how a radical conception of ecology isn’t one concerned with the sustainability of nature-as-resource, but one concerned with the rights to different practices of living.

‘Ecological Urbanism and the Immunization of Nature’

Ross Exo Adams

This lecture will problematize the ‘eco-city’ as a renewed attempt to imbue the crisis-ridden process of urbanization with a theological urgency: Here the ‘eco-city’ stands in as a figure effectively endowed with the power of staving off the end of the world. Indeed, what is truly new about the ‘eco-city’ and its various ‘sustainable’ cousins is not in its form, but rather in its rhetorical/aesthetic promise to incorporate ‘nature’ itself as an infrastructure whose ambition will inevitably push urbanization once again to the background of human consciousness—a fated processes of nature which can only be tamed by the good deeds of liberal reform.

‘The Development Doctrine’

Paulo Tavares

“First create need, then help” (Trihn Mihn-ha, in Reassemblage). The most powerful ideological construction we have inherited from the twentieth century is neither capitalism nor communism; it is “development”. No other form of perceiving and framing the world was able to command such universal consensus and gather partisans from all sides; left and right, revolutionaries and conservatives, liberals and totalitarians. Whether it was designed in the form of international aid from North to South or nationalist projects in the post-colonial world, governments from all factions and from all parts of the globe have claimed development as a political-historical objective. Religious missionaries, philanthropists and humanitarians have adopted development, on behalf of ethical imperatives, as their central mandate. Moreover, being ideologically consensual, development is also a “classless” belief, and enjoys unanimity among different social strata. While the rich consider it a moral duty towards fellow humans, the poor claim it as a right that has been historically expropriated or denied. Like any other event in the history of ideas, however, development is neither natural nor neutral but a well-crafted artificial construction. During the last seventy years or so, it has occupied a central position in the concerns of foreign aid-agencies of powerful states, global NGOs and the technical bureaus of the United Nations. It has mobilized huge amounts of capital and labour, and eventually generated its own circuits of knowledge production --- “development studies”. Given its moral righteousness, it is somewhat comprehensible that development enjoys such unquestionable hegemonic position. But its history tells us something completely different: development is an idea informed by a set of exclusionary cultural constructions that served specific political interests and economic goals and, in fact, development has contributed to expand rather than alleviate world poverty. What follows is a brief archaeology of the concept from its colonial origins to its modern elaborations, and some insights in one of its most powerful avatars: architecture and urban planning.

‘The Earth-Political’

Paulo Tavares

The history of modernity could be narrated as a longue-durée process of environing the earth. What we call globalization – that moment in history when financial markets, communication networks, energetic technologies, and ecological accidents turned into ‘world-objects’- is the last snapshot of that movement by which the planet was surrounded, up to a point in which that process has practically reached the totality of life, at least in rela­tion to what concerns the life of the human species and to that on which it depends: ‘global nature’. After the terrestrial globe initiated with early modernity/colonialism, the bio-spherical globe that emerges with late nineteenth century with bio-geography, and the eco-systemic turn of the 60s and 70s, we maybe experiencing the formation of new sensibility towards the planet, more geo-logical than territorial or biological, and therefore, a new reality in which the political terrain is no longer only the geo- or the bio-, but something I would tentatively call the earth-political. In the 70’s, when the ecological discourse was surfac­ing, geo-political power was disputed as a matter of reaching the outer space — escaping the Earth. Today’s crucial problem is that power will engage much more intimately and forcefully with the materiality of the planet, drilling deeper into the earth, scanning its hidden surfaces, trying to uncover sources of material wealth under melting glaciers and new discovered terrains — extracting, sectioning, dividing the materials that form our planet, re-articulating local and global ecologies. If ecology can be thought as political, its most urgent problem is not so much safeguarding nature, but challenging the hegemonic notions of nature itself and questioning the forms and means by which the earth is translated into the space of the political.


Application procedures, fees, funding and scholarships

Please visit the UCL Postgraduate Application and Entry page for information on how to apply.

Programme-specific information follows below.

Latest news: Full fee bursaries and paid work experience for UK and EU applicants 
Application deadline: 2 August 2013

Prior qualifications

The course provides a forum for graduate students from a variety of backgrounds - architectural design, the social sciences, planning, engineering, transportation, landscaping, geography and art history are all examples. However, prospective students should be prepared to engage with a course which has a strong emphasis on the design and visual representation of urban form, and so a background in a related design or visually-orientated field will be an advantage.

Candidates applying to the programme are expected to have excellent design skills; a familiarity with historical and contemporary debates on the city, well developed analytical abilities and a serious work ethic. Entry to the programme is highly competitive, priority admission is granted to students with exceptional portfolios.

As well as this diverse disciplinary background, the student cohort of 50-60 individuals also comprises a dynamic mix of UK, EU and international participants from all parts of the world.


Should you have any query on this programme, please contact the Programme Administrator.


The MArch Urban Design provides the skills required in order to prepare students for further academic studies or for practice.

A student having completed the course will be equipped to undertake research in the field of urban design, and be able to evaluate or develop work in practice. Graduates of the course have gone on to pursue careers in a wide variety of fields, including:

  • Further PhD studies and academia
  • Urban design and planning practice
  • Politics and policy
  • Film-making, photography and creative practices

Graduates of the MArch Urban Design have, for example, gone on to become eminent urban designers in their own right as well as partners and practitioners of renowned architectural and urban design practices.