A Global History of Urban Design I

Lecture A Global History of Urban Design I (052-0801)
Organizer: Chair of Prof. Avermaete
Lecturers: Prof. Tom Avermaete
Time: Thursdays, 9:45-11:30
Location: HIL E4

The New Plan of Rome by Giambattista Nolli part 5/12 © Wikimedia Commons

Course description
This course, together with Geschichte des Städtebaus II / A Global History of Urban Design II that will be offered in FS 2023, provides an overview of the development of cities and urban design from the earliest known settlements until today. It specifically challenges students to value this history on a broader, global scale, highlighting cross-cultural developments. The course aims to extend this field of knowledge beyond the focus on urban developments in Europe and North America, taking into account the various instances of cultural cross-fertilization that build up a global history of cities and urban design. From the earliest human settlements in India, Turkey and the Near East, the survey examines the traditional, pre-modern and modern concepts that have historically had a bearing on urban development, up to and including the dynamic growth of contemporary cities in Asia and Africa.

Time and Location
The lecture will take place on Thursday mornings, from 09:45 to 11:30 in HIL E4.
The lecture will also be livestreamed and recorded through the ETH video platform.

Corona Measures
The semester will take place with full presence in the auditorium, according to the ETH Covid safety concept. For more information, please consult the official guidelines:

Course overview
  • Lecture 1.01 / 22.09.2022: The History and Theory of the City as Project
    SCRIPT 1.01 
  • Lecture 1.02 / 29.09.2022: Of Rituals, Water and Mud: The Urban Revolution in Mesopotamia and the Indus
    SCRIPT 1.02 
  • Lecture 1.03 / 06.10.2022: The Idea of the Polis: Rome, Greece and Beyond
    SCRIPT 1.03 
  • Lecture 1.04 / 13.10.2022: The Long Middle Ages and their Counterparts: From the Towns of Tuscany to Delhi
    SCRIPT 1.04 
  • No lecture on 20.10.2022
  • No lecture on 27.10.2022 (Seminar week)
  • Lecture 1.05 / 03.11.2022: Between Ideal and Laboratory: Of Middle Eastern Grids and European Renaissance Principles
    SCRIPT 1.05 
  • Lecture 1.06 / 10.11.2022: Of Absolutism and Enlightenment: The Norms and Forms of the Baroque City
    SCRIPT 1.06 
  • Lecture 1.07 / 17.11.2022: The City of Labor: Company Towns as Cross-Cultural Phenomenon
    SCRIPT 1.07 
  • Lecture 1.08 / 24.11.2022: Garden Cities of Tomorrow: From the Global North to the Global South and Back Again
    SCRIPT 1.08 
  • Lecture 1.09 / 01.12.2022: Civilized Wilderness and City Beautiful: The Park Movement of Olmsted and The Urban Plans of Burnham
    SCRIPT 1.09 
  • Lecture 1.10 / 08.12.2022: The Extension of the European City: From the Viennese Ringstrasse to Amsterdam Zuid
    SCRIPT 1.10 

  • Attendance to all lectures is expected and strongly recommended.
  • Lectures will be recorded and provided online through the ETH video platform.
  • For each lecture, a script can be downloaded from this page two days before the lecture.
  • This script is conceived as a working tool and we recommend that you bring a print-out to the lecture to use in your note-taking.

Further readings
  • At the end of each lecture-script you will find a list of further readings in relation to that specific lecture for those that would like to know more about a given subject.

  • Assessment by written examination.
  • Questions will cover the compulsory scripts and lectures.

  • The lectures are held in English.
  • The scripts supporting the lectures are offered in English.
  • The exam questions will be bilingual (English/German). Students are free to write the exam in English, German or French.

General Literature
We recommend the readings below as general reference for the course. These may be found in the library, where they have been reserved.
  • Ching, Francis D. K, Mark Jarzombek, and Vikramditya Prakash. A Global History of Architecture. Hoboken: Wiley, 2017.
  • Ingersoll, Richard. World Architecture: A Cross-Cultural History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2018.
  • James-Chakraborty, Kathleen. Architecture Since 1400. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.

Chair for the History and Theory of Urban Design
Prof. Dr. ir. Tom Avermaete
HIL D 75.2
Student assistant:
Luca Can (can@arch.ethz.ch)