What is Critical Urbanism?

What is Critical Urbanism?

Urban Research as Pedagogy

Urbanism as pedagogical concept of practice



Title Information

Edited by Kenny Cupers, Sophie Oldfield, Manuel Herz, Laura Nkula-Wenz, Emilio Distretti, Myriam Perret

1st edition

, 2022


204 pages, 116 color and 9 b/w illustrations

16.5 x 24 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-282-8


Understanding and managing urban change in our global era demands a high degree of specialized and interdisciplinary knowledge. At the same time, city planners, architects, researchers, policymakers, and activists are deeply immersed in the chaotic and often contradictory urban realities that they are asked to address. What is Critical Urbanism? offers an innovative toolkit for engaging these present realities across disciplinary specializations and geographic purviews.

Central to the book is the research and pedagogy of the Critical Urbanisms MA program at the University of Basel, established in collaboration with the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town. The program’s renowned and emerging urbanists demonstrate the power of working with care and reciprocity across different contexts and institutions, driven by engagement with varied communities of practice. They show how alternative urban futures can be imagined by addressing the historical injustices and global entanglements that shape the urban present. The book is tailored to students, graduates and teachers of urban studies and related disciplines including architecture, urban design, human geography, architectural history, and urban anthropology.

With contributions by Saad Amira, Olivia Andereggen, Isabella Baranyk, Hanna Baumann, Thomas Betschart, James Clacherty, Alexander Crawford, Carla Cruz, Kenny Cupers, Emilio Distretti, Janine Eberle, Evan Natasha Escamilla, Jacob Geuder, Manuel Herz, Maren Larsen, Shourideh C. Molavi, Lea Nienhoff, Laura Nkula-Wenz, Sophie Oldfield, Myriam Perret, Racial Justice Student Collective, Naomi Samake, Giulia Scotto, Anna Selmeczi, Ernest Sewordor, Florence Siegenthaler, Basil Studer, Aline Suter, Aylin Tschoepe, Rosca van Rooyen, Diana Vazquez-Martinez, Linda Wermuth, and Lee Wolf.


Kenny Cupers is Professor of Architectural History and Urban Studies at the University of Basel.


Sophie Oldfield is a Professor at and Chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning in the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning at Cornell University, and a lecturer at the University of Cape Town’s African Center for Cities. She has been University of Cape Town – University of Basel Professor of Urban Studies 2016–21.


Manuel Herz is an architect and served as Assistant Professor of Architectural, Urban, and Territorial Planning at the University of Basel 2016–20.


Laura Nkula-Wenz is a lecturer in the Critical Urbanisms MA Program at the University of Basel and a researcher at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town.


Emilio Distretti works as a postdoctoral fellow in the History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Basel.


Myriam Perret is an architect who worked in the Critical Urbanisms MA Program at the University of Basel until 2020.

Authors & Editors