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The Concept of Space in Architecture (late 19th- and 20th century): the Netherlands in an international context


Admission requirements

See Teaching and Examination Regulations.


In the late 19th century the concept of ‘space’ becomes prominent in architectural theory, in architecture itself and in urban planning, due to new developments within natural science, psychology (f.e. the idea of ‘empathy’, 1903), but also due to the rise of Theosophy that was extremely popular among architects, both in the Netherlands and abroad.

How did architects deal with this new idea of ‘space’: in publications, in buildings, in urban planning? We will study, amongst others, the writings and architecture of Lauweriks, De Bazel, Berlage and Rietveld, but also of Schmarsow, Wright, Giedeon, Buckminster Fuller and Kahn.

Course objectives

  • Students will have an overview of new approaches to architecture in the Netherlands, Europe and USA in the late 19th and 20th century;

  • Students will be conversant with recent developments in architectural theory and history in relation to the subject (including recent ideas concerning sustainability);

  • Students will gain facility with primary and secondary source research;

  • Students will develop their skills in (spatial) analysis.


Please consult the timetable on the MA Arts and Culture website.

Mode of instruction

  • (Guest-) Lectures: introductory lectures on the theme;

  • Research (students can select a topic from a list or suggest a topic themselves);

  • Excursion (min. half day).

Attendance is compulsory. Students are allowed to miss a maximum of two seminars.

Course Load

Total course load for the course (10 EC x 28 hours): 280 hours

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars, 2 hours per week x 14 weeks: 28 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature and time for completing assignments: 142 hours

  • Time to write a paper (including reading / research): 110 hours

Assessment method

  • Presentation with powerpoint (15 minutes + 10 minutes questions and discussion) (30%);

  • Active participation (texts, excursion) (20%);

  • Written paper, 5000 words, excl. notes and bibliography (50%).


A Blackboard site will be available and used for information (schedules, excursion), documents (summaries, powerpoints lectures) and discussion.

Reading list



Students are required to register for this course via uSis, the course registration system of Leiden University. General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.

Exchange and Study Abroad students: Please see the website Study in Leiden for information on how to apply/register for this course.

Students who are not in the MA Arts and Culture programme, but who would like to take this course as an optional course, please contact Mrs. Joëlle Koning MA the co-ordinator of studies.


Dr. J.G. Roding


  • This course can be taken for the MA Arts and Culture specialisation: Architecture;

  • It can also be taken as a specialist course for the MA Arts and Culture free component of any specialisation (10 EC) or MA program of Leiden University.