Theories of urban design: Reading Jane Jacobs

Jane Jacobs is the heroine of critical urbanism. Entering the stage with a big bang, she published in 1961 'Death and life of great American cities', her groundbreaking criticism of modernism in city planning and urban design, written with fury and relish. It became on of the biggest bestsellers in the history of urban studies, published and published again, read and re-read by generations of architects, planners’ sociologists and enthusiasts of urban living.

2016, on the 100th anniversary of her birth, newspapers, magazines and web pages are full of articles and celebrations. Saskia Sassen wrote in the guardian 'Jane Jacobs changed the way we look at cities', her tireless fans and followers were crazy enough to build websites just on the  occasion of her birthday (, and Google even honoured her with a special JJ doodle. The seminar does not intend to add to this janemania but will use the opportunity to first browse through a wide variety of up-to-date reflections on her work and second come to read the original itself.

The seminar’s second subject is reading itself. You will learn about different reading techniques and how to extract meaning from text and theory. The seminar is supposed to promote a knowledge-based, critical understanding and encourage taking up a personal position to become an autonomous reader.