Florian Urban is Professor and Head of Architectural History and Urban Studies at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art. He holds a Meisterschüler degree (Master of Fine Arts) from the University of the Arts in Berlin (1996), an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA (2001) and a Ph.D. in History and Theory of Architecture from MIT (2006).
He was born and raised in Munich/Germany and spent most of his adult life in Berlin before moving to Glasgow in 2010. Before joining the Mackintosh School of Architecture he taught at the Center for Metropolitan Studies, Berlin Technical University and worked for the German Federal Institute for Research on Construction, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR). Since 2009 he is the book review editor-in-chief for the journal Planning Perspectives.
2014-16 he is the Principal Investigator of the research project “The New Tenement,” funded by the Leverhulme Trust. The project analyses New Tenements, that is, dense, multi-storey urban residences that have been built in European cities since the 1970s as well as the discourse on urban living that evolved along with the “return to the inner city”. The project focuses on Berlin, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Rotterdam, and Vienna.
His research interests include:
- History of architecture in the urban context, particularly in the 20th century
- Relation between architecture and social, cultural, and political forces
- The architecture of mass housing as a global phenomenon
- New Tenements, that is, dense multi-storey urban residences since 1970
- Informal housing/self-built housing, particularly in Europe in the mid 20th century
- Discourses on modernism and post-modernism
- Discourses on historic preservation and identity
Tower and Slab – a Global History of Mass Housing (Abingdon: Routledge, 2012)
Awarded the annual prize for the “best book on planning history written in English and based on original research” by the International Planning History Society (IPHS)
Neo-historical East Berlin – Architecture and Urban Design in the German Democratic Republic 1970-1990 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2009)
Berlin/DDR, neo-historisch – Geschichte aus Fertigteilen [Neo-historical East Berlin – History from Prefabricated Parts] (Berlin: Gebrüder Mann Verlag, 2007)
The Invention of the Historic City – Building the Past in East Berlin, Doctoral Thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2006, also accepted at Berlin Technical University in the context of a double degree agreement, online at http://opus.kobv.de/tuberlin/volltexte/2006/1204/
Peer-Reviewed Articles (selection)
“Balmoral Castle – European Romanticism and Nation Building in the Scottish Highlands” [co-authored with Aonghus MacKechnie], Architectural History 58 n. 1 (2015), 159-196.
“La Perla – 100 years of Informal Architecture in San Juan, Puerto Rico“ Planning Perspectives 30 n. 4 (October 2015)
“The Hut on the Garden Plot – Informal Architecture in Twentieth-Century Berlin,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (June 2013)
“Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall and the Invention of the Post-modern City,” Journal of Architecture 18 n. 2 (2013)
“New Tenements and the Image of the Past – the Crown Street Development in Glasgow’s New Gorbals” Architectural Research Quarterly 17 n. 2 (June 2013)
“Japanese Occidentalism and the Emergence of Postmodern Architecture,“ Journal of Architectural Education 65 (March 2012), 89-102.
“Built Historiography in Glasgow’s New Gorbals,” Journal of Art Historiography, published by the Department of Art History/University of Glasgow (2011)
“Mumbai’s Suburban Mass Housing,” Urban History 39 (February 2012), 128-148
“Prefab Russia,” Docomomo Journal 39 (September 2008): 18-22.
“Friedrichstraße, 1987: Neo-Historical Urban Design in the German Democratic Republic,” Planning Perspectives 23 n. 1 (January 2008): 1-28.
“Designing the Past in East Berlin Before and After the German Reunification,” Progress in Planning 68 n. 1 (January 2008): 1-55.
“From Obsolescence to Eternal Preservation” Future Anterior 3 n. 1 (May 2006): 24-35. [published by the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University]
“Rudolf Schwarz and the Speech of the Land – Grammar as a Political Device in Postwar Germany” Journal of Architecture 9 n. 3 (Fall 2004): 251-266.
“Recovering Essence through Demolition – 'Organic’ Urban Design in Postwar West Berlin” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 63 n. 2 (2004): 354-369.
“Picture Postcards of Urbanity – Reflections on Berlin’s Inner City and the 1999 Master Plan” Journal of Architectural Education 57 n. 1 (2003): 68-73.
Other Recent Publications (Selection)
“East Berlin” in Emily Makas, ed., Capital Cities in the Shadow of the Cold War (New York: Alexandrine Press, 2015)
“Germany, Country of Tenants” Built Environment 41 n. 2 (2015), 183-195.
“The Märkisches Viertel in West Berlin” in Mark Swenarton, Tom Avermaete, and Dirk van den Heuvel, eds., Architecture and the Welfare State (Abingdon: Taylor and Francis, 2015)
"The Friedrichstadt Palace in East Berlin“ in Alistair Fair, ed., Setting the Scene: Perspectives on Twentieth-Century Theatre Architecture (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), 219-36
“Public Housing in Europe” in Nicholas Bloom, Fritz Umbach, Lawrence Vale, eds., Public Housing Myths: Perception, Reality, and Social Policy (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015), 154-174.
“Postmoderne als Konsens: Neo-historischer Wiederaufbau im Ost-Berliner Nikolaiviertel 1977 – 1989” in Georg Wagner-Kyora, ed., Wiederaufbau europäischer Städte. Rekonstruktionen, die Moderne und die lokale Identitätspolitik seit 1945/ Rebuilding European Cities. Reconstructions, Modernity and the Local Politics of Identitiy Construction since 1945 (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2013)
“La ville divisée 1945-1989” in David Sanson, ed., Berlin – Histoire, Promenades, Anthologie et Dictionnaire (Paris: Editions Robert Laffont, 2013)
“Mass Housing in Germany – Controversial Success and Ambivalent Heritage” in Jorge Lizardi and Martin Schwegmann, eds., Espacios Ambivalentes: historias y olvidos en la arquitectura social moderna (San Juan, Puerto Rico: Ediciones Callejón, 2012), 52-75.
“Erker im Plattenbau – Die DDR entdeckt die historische Stadt” in Frank Betker, Carsten Benke, Christoph Bernhardt, eds., Paradigmenwechsel und Kontinuitätslinien im DDR-Städtebau (Erkner/Berlin: IRS, 2010)