Critical Spatial Perspectives

ACEX35​,Masters’ thesis direction, 2022/2023

Description and aim

The master’s thesis direction Critical spatial perspectives asks as a central question how architects and planners can analyse, intervene and design in space using critical perspectives. Such perspectives can be understood to point to the importance of social responsibility, environmental justice, intersectional feminism, norm-critique, democracy, and subversive and resistant spatial practices, in responding to political and socio-economic challenges connected to the built environment. The direction emphasises such perspectives because they are urgent. Indeed, as Jackson (2009) has pointed out we now live in “an age of irresponsibility” which currently is creating social polarisation, segregation, overconsumption and unsustainable living. Hence, at the heart of this thesis direction is the need to develop an ability to formulate critical questions of how power, spatiality and meaning are produced and reproduced.

Students in this direction can express their critical proposals through design projects, written academic work, or a combination. It encourages an expanded scope for spatial interventions at different scales, and accepts that ways of responsible and critical spatial inteventions are not limited to architecture/buildings or urban plans/design, but can include a wide range of interventions, including theoretical schemes, countercultural work, manifestos, collaborative design, and embodied spatial practices.

Method and Process

Master theses within this direction use theory and design practice to explore a critical perspective. Common approaches within the studio are qualitative, discursive and regenerative approaches. We critically investigate how we talk about, plan and reproduce society and (natural) environment, but also how new approaches for the design professions can contribute to making a difference. Such critical spatial perspectives can for example imply an analytical focus on how inequalities materialise in the built environment, through urbanisation, gentrification or segregation processes, and thereby contribute to creating unsustainable spatial hierarchies between people and places. Critical spatial practices can also question how uneven development, damaging environmental and spatial practices, and unsustainable consumption, devastate natural environments.

Specific evaluation criteria

Critical question/problem the thesis aims to explore; relevance to society; theory/relevant concepts to use for analysis; method


  • Ernstson, H. and Swyngedouw, E. (2019) Urban Political Ecology in the anthropo-obscene: Interruptions and possibilities. Routledge
  • Fitz, A. and Krasny, E. eds. (2019) Critical Care. Architecture and Urbanism for a Broken Planet, Architekturzentrum Wien and The Mit Press 
  • Harvey. D (2006). Space as a keyword. In Spaces of global capitalism. London, New York: Verso 
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  • Massey, D (2006). London inside-out. Soundings. 32, 1, 62-71(10)
  • Rendell, J. (2018)  "Only resist: a feminist approach to critical spatial practice", The Architectural Review, 19 Feb 2018   

Direction faculty

Marco Adelfio, Nils Björling, Emilio Da Cruz Brandao, Isabelle Doucet, Julia Fredriksson, Bri Gauger, Kristina Grange, Anna-Johanna Klasander

Page manager Published: Thu 08 Sep 2022.