Teaching urbanism: the Delft approach

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The Department of Urbanism at the Faculty of Architecture and Built Environment at the Delft University of Technology has a long tradition in educating generations of internationally oriented designers, planners and researchers in urbanism. Here the domain of urbanism is defined as an interdisciplinary approach that engages in real-world sociocultural, ecological and technological issues affecting urban landscapes, from the perspective of spatial planning and design. Specifically, it combines the disciplines of spatial planning, urban design and landscape architecture, having their own theories, methods and techniques, but also sharing common grounds and being complementary. Urbanism education focuses on specific context-related design tasks, in which knowledge from different disciplines is synthesised into coherent multiscale proposals. This paper aims to elaborate on the foundations of the Delft approach to urbanism education that focuses on the urban landscape as a scale continuum, uses design research and research through design as important teaching and research strategies, and regards mapping and drawing as important tools for thinking. The typical Dutch geographic context and spatial planning traditions are the foundation for this approach. The paper addresses the backgrounds and describes the principles of the present education strategies, learning tactics and examination, and identifies their challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1600013
Pages (from-to)96-106
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the ICE - Urban Design and Planning
Volume170 (2017)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • buildings
  • structures & design
  • environment
  • knowledge management


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