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The Jaap Bakema Study Centre conference explores ethnography’s influence on architecture. Since the 19th century, architects have used ethnography – a form of research in which immersion in a community allows observers to closely study behaviours and interactions – to develop the discipline and reshape the architect’s social role. However, being firmly rooted in colonialism, capitalism and Eurocentrism, ethnography is not an innocent discipline. Nevertheless, it offers new insights and inspiration that can help improve people’s daily lives.

Or, to paraphrase historian James Clifford: ethnography today offers the tools to break open and redistribute colonial power, to establish communication and intercultural exchange, and to embrace ambiguity, diversity and multivocality.

Ethnography is used to better understand others and differences with others. Yet it can also confirm, magnify and even create differences and ‘the other’. Ethnography is both a reflective and an exploitative practice: it disrupts architecture, as well as advancing it.

Along with related fields such as anthropology, archaeology and sociology, ethnography has historically influenced the development of modern architecture, from 19th-century Grand Tours, those cultural journeys to the cradle of civilisation, to Alison and Peter Smithson’s interest in street life, Aldo van Eyck’s playgrounds, and Lina Bo Bardi’s enthusiasm for folk art in the 20th century.

Today, ethnography is an essential part of architectural thinking. This is reflected in design practice and education, in the use of new media, visual communication and representation, in publications and conferences, and in exhibitions and international architecture biennials, such as the 2019 São Paulo Biennale, which was devoted to the theme of ‘the everyday’, and this year's Venice Biennale, which asks the question: How will we live together?


Wednesday 24 November


10.00 - 10.30 Opening.

  • 10:00 Doors open - coffee
  • 10.30 Opening and introduction

10:45-12:30 Session 1 Ethnographic Methods in Architecture, moderated by Alejandro Campos Uribe.

  • George Sedupane and Simeon Materechera
  • Shanti Sumartojo and Naomi Stead 
  • Stéphanie Dadour 
  • Yue Mao 
  • Q&A

12:30-13:30 Lunch, Vakwerkhuis, Delft

13:30-15:00 Session 2 Dwelling and Patterns of Habitation, moderated by Nelson Mota. 

  • Jeroen Stevens
  • Thiago Magri Benucci
  • Gregory Elias Cartelli
  • Claire Bosmans
  • Q&A

15:00-15:30 Break, coffee and tea, Vakwerkhuis, Delft.


15:30-17:00 Session 3 Material Culture, moderated by Fatma Tanış.

  • Desirée Valadares 
  • Barsha Amarendra
  • Curt Gambetta
  • Amina Kaskar
  • Q&A

17:30 Drinks, Orange Hall, TU Delft, Delft.

18:00-19:30 BK Talks - Education panel moderated by Nelson Mota and Vanessa Grossman. 
Panel: Sascha Roesler, Leeke Reinders, Klaske Havik, Stéphanie Dadour, Aina Landsverk Hagen.

Thursday 25 November


09.30 Opening - introduction and coffee

09.45-11:15 Session 1 (Re-)claiming the City, moderated by Dirk van den Heuvel.

  • María Novas and Dorina Pllumbi 
  • Silvia Balzan
  • Pedro Pitarch
  • Aina Landsverk Hagen and Jenny Osuldsen
  • Q&A

11:15-11:30 Break


11.30-12.30 Intermezzo: Archival Interactions

  • Performance Paoletta Holst and Paolo Patelli
  • Conversation
  • Selection from the collection, with Alejandro Campos Uribe and Suzanne Mulder

12:30-13:30 Lunch, Het Nieuwe Café.

13:30-15:30 Session 2 Architecture and Activism, moderated by Rohan Varma.

  • Socrates Stratis
  • Bruna Ferreira Montuori
  • Jeffrey Hogrefe and Scott Ruff
  • Ignacio G. Galán
  • Tania Gutiérrez Monroy
  • Q&A

15:30-16:00 Break, coffee and tea


16:00-17:30 Session 3 Architectural Representation, moderated by Vanessa Grossman.

  • Oxana Gourinovitch 
  • Jose Abásolo Llaria and Felix Reigada
  • Frederico Vergueiro Costa 
  • Diego Inglez de Souza
  • Q&A

18:00 Buffet, Het Nieuwe Café, and visiting the exhibitons.

19.30-21.00 Keynote by Marie Stender and Hilde Heynen.

Video recordings

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Het Nieuwe Instituut
Museumpark 25
3015 CB Rotterdam

Vakwerkhuis Delft
Professor Snijdersstraat 2
2628 RA Delft


Free, register for the conference here, and/or for the keynote here
This programme will be live streamed
At Het Nieuwe Instituut, we follow the Museum Association’s protocol for safe museum visits. A corona pass is required for all events. You can read more about the guidelines for visiting here.


Live streams

  • Wednesday 24 November 10.00 - 17.00 via Zoom
  • Wednesday 24 November 18.00 - 19.30 (BK Talks) via YouTube
  • Thursday 25 November 09.30 - 17.30 via Zoom
  • Thursday 25 November 19.30 - 21.00 (Keynotes) via Enter