How Architects and Planners Improve Our Built Environment

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David Butler Stewart  Hidano Noboru 
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Spring Semester  /  Recommended semester:3,5,7

Outline of lecture

This regularly held seminar analyzes both historical and contemporary case studies in building and city planning. Language of instruction is English and weekly Thursday morning attendance is strongly encouraged.

Purpose of lecture

The approach is both theoretical and visual. It should appeal to architectural, social engineering, or urban planning students. (However, interested students from any field are most welcome and there are no special prerequisites.)

Plan of lecture

This term we plan to explore and discuss the following ten cities: Lagos (Nigeria), Thebes and Cairo (Egypt), Teotihuacan and Tikal (Mexico), Damascus (Syria), Baghdad (Iraq), Samarkand (Uzbekistan), Cuzco (Peru), and Timbuktu (Mali). None of these is situated in Europe or the USA but over half have survived as rapidly expanding modern metropolises.

1 窶 April 9
Lagos, Nigeria 窶 A Representative C21 Megacity: # 1 in Africa Today

2 - April 16
Historical Cities in Egypt and Elsewhere in Africa 窶 Thebes and Cairo

3 窶 April 23
Medieval Glory of Cairo

4 窶 May 7
Cairo, Egypt 窶 Its Transition toward # 2 in Africa Today

5 窶 May 14
Cities of Pre-modern Mexico: Teotihuacan and Tikal I

6 窶 May 21
Teotihuacan and Tikal 窶 II

7 - May 28
Teotihuacan and Tikal 窶 III

8 窶 June 4
Mexico City 窶 Twice the Largest City in the World

9 窶 June 11
Other Great Cities of the Arab World I 窶 Baghdad

10 窶 June 18
Other Great Cities of the Arab World II - Damascus

11 窶 June 25
Grandeur of Central Asia - Samarkand

12 窶 July 2
Heart of the Andes - 窶弋he Very Noble and Great City of Cuzco窶

13 窶 July 9
Timbuktu, Mali 窶 Picturesque African City in Deep Conflict

14 - July 16
Seminar Recap

15 窶 July 23
Seminar Wrap-Up

Textbook and reference


There is no set text and discussion will be based on assigned PDFs, as well as the PPTs created over the semester by participating students.

However, if may want to check J.J. Norwich, ed., The Great Cities in History, London: Thames and Hudson, 2009

*You will get an idea of the historical part of our seminar. Used copies (窶徑ike new窶) are available at a reasonable price (free delivery).

This book examines more than seven times the number of 窶徃reat cities窶 we shall attempt to cover, many situated in the Western world. It is an attractive book to purchase for consultation and reference, should you wish to do so. The essays are by different authors with different points of view.

Related and/or prerequisite courses

The course involves a certain amount of reading preparation but is otherwise based on active participation. We hope to discover and theorize ways in which building and 窶忖rban design窶 can make for a more satisfactory life experience in today窶冱 cities worldwide.


Evaluation will be based on attendance, participation in discussion, occasional written exercises, and your own PPT/ equivalent presentations on assigned or chosen topics.

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