Research Project
Faith in the City: Reading Twentieth Century Urbanism and Urbanisation through the Lens of Religion

Research Project
Janina Gosseye
Since 2019

The relationship between religion and urban development is well established. Religion was the key driver behind the formation of many of the earliest known urban settlements. The Sumerian cities of Mesopotamia, for instance, were thought of as owned by the gods. Faith was a key determinant in their urban form and, accordingly, numerous studies exist that explore this connection between religion and urban development in pre-modern, but also in early modern times. However, from the Late Modern period, and particularly during the twentieth century, urban history has been disconnected from the sphere of religion. While in recent years there has been a remarkable increase in studies that focus on modern religious architecture, very little research exists on the role that religion has played in twentieth-century urbanism and urbanisation. This is surprising given that religious organisations were key actors in the 20th century urban realm. They not only built churches, temples and synagogues but also constructed schools, retirement homes, childcare centres, recreational facilities, etc. This research project examines the impact that these religiously-driven building programmes had on twentieth-century urbanism and urbanisation.


Dr. Ir. Janina Gosseye