Assembling Cities Conference: STS theories and methodologies in planning studies


Jef Safi⎟CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

20-22 January 2015, ETH Zurich

The planning community is still trying to come to terms with the rational and functional project of modernist planning. Both theory and practice are rethinking the tools, aims and knowledge of urban planning. To address these issues planning studies is increasingly drawing upon theories and methodologies of science and technology studies (STS). At this intersection, theoretical and empirical approaches have underlined the complexity and uncertainty in the object of planning, and have brought into focus the relation between planning practices, techniques, expertise and politics. Also in the field of STS and urban studies, the notion of planning as a technocratic and a rational exercise has been challenged. Where STS has turned to the city and its planning in order to examine the relationship between technologies, knowledge and power, urban studies has looked at the city not as a stable and bounded entity but as an object that is continuously made through diverse and situated practices.

We are organizing a workshop to share conceptual, methodological and practical aspects of STS approaches to the planning and making of cities. In the workshop we aim:

  • To consider cities not as the backdrop but as the object of science and technology in urban planning research. We are interested in how technologies such as planning ideas, instruments and procedures come to frame the city and guide planning intervention.
  • To focus on the specific sites and practices that relate planning knowledge and practice. In particular to find out empirically how urban planning is a technical or political exercise that is legitimized in both participatory and expert driven planning processes.
  • To explore the ways STS approaches can be productive in planning research and practice. How do STS concepts retain and gain an analytical and methodological edge in the field of planning studies with a comparative and normative focus.

Jean Ruegg and Marko Marskamp, Institute of Geography and Sustainability (IGD) at the University of Lausanne, and Monika Kurath and Julio Da Cruz Paulos, ETH Wohnforum - ETH CASE, Department of Architecture at the ETH Zurich.

Monika Kurath (kurath[at]
Julio Da Cruz Paulos (dacruz[at]

Program  (519 Ko)