Inscription: Tracing Place: History and Memory in Architectural and Literary Practice

  • Klaske Havik Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology
  • Susana Oliveira Faculty of Architecture, Lisbon.
  • Jacob Voorthuis


This issue of Writingplace seeks to investigate how literary evocations of memory can be or have been used in site analysis or architectural design. Like the tracing of history in lines and stones is depicted in the writings of contemporary authors, architects, urban planners and landscape architects, the question of local urban cultures, histories and stories may be explored with a literary lens. This approach offers the possibility to understand, not only how urban places are experienced and remembered, but also how they can be produced or transformed.

In particular, this issue contains articles that identify and explore trends, authors, key concepts and theories discussed across the disciplines, thereby engaging with, interrupting, and unsettling notions of place and space, history and story. It shows how place is re-imagined and re-experienced through different practices and disciplines, both materially and through memory; how cultural, political and economic histories and stories are experienced by and inscribed upon and through place and building; how theoretical and experiential uses of place expand and challenge perception, memory and storytelling.

In this issue of Writingplace, the authors look for traces of architectural memory in literary works as well as in particular cities such as Diu, Juiz de Fora, Glasgow, Ohrid, Nicosia and Bogotá. Within these contribu- tions, we have observed three overlapping practices: reading, walking and responding.


Bachelard, G. The Poetics of Space (Boston, MA: Beacon Press,1994), 8.
de Certeau, M. The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988 [1984])
Malpas, J. Place and Experience: A Philosophical Topography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).
Proust, M. Remembrance of Things Past, Volume 1: Swann’s Way: Within a Budding Grove (New York: Wordsworth Editions, 2006 [1919])
Said, E.W. ‘Invention, Memory and Place’, Critical Inquiry, vol. 26 (Winter 2000) no. 2
Sioli, A. The Architecture of Walking: Embodied Perception in Novels of the European City in the 1920s. dissertation. (Montreal: McGill 2015)

Author Biographies

Klaske Havik, Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology

Klaske Havik is associate professor of architecture, Methods & Analysis at Delft University of Technology. She studied architecture in Delft and Helsinki and literary writing in Amsterdam. She has developed a distinct research approach relating architectural and urban questions (such as the use, experience and imagination of place) to literary language. Her book Urban Literacy: Reading and Writing Architecture(2014), based on her PhD research, developed a literary approach to architecture. She initiated the plat- form Writingplace and organized the international conference Writingplace: Literary Methods in Architec- tural Research and Design in 2013. The book Writingplace: Investigations in Architecture and Literatureappeared in 2016. Klaske Havik is editor of OASE, Journal for Architecture. Havik’s literary work has appeared in Dutch poetry collections and literary magazines.

Susana Oliveira, Faculty of Architecture, Lisbon.

Susana Oliveira teaches Design and Visual Communication at the Faculty of Architecture in Lisbon. She was one of the initiators and organizers, with Arch. Pedro Gadanho, of the first conference on architecture and fiction: Once Upon a Place: Haunted Houses and Imaginary Cities inLisbon, 2010. ( She edited theOnce Upon a Place proceedings book (Lisbon: Caleidoscópio, 2013) as well as a book series where literary works are transcribed to architectural draw-ings and models. The first book, now in print, is a XVIII novel by Bastide, La Petite Maison, with draw- ings by Siza Vieira (Abysmo). She was a Visiting Scholar at GSAPP-Columbia University early 2014 for her Post- doctoral research on Architectural Imagination in Literature, funded by the Portuguese Science Foundation.

Jacob Voorthuis

Jacob Voorthuis is associate Professor of Philosophy of Design in Architecture and Head of the School of Architecture and Urban Design and Engineering of the Department of the Built Environment, TU Eindhoven.
In his educational activities and research at the Technical Universityof Eindhoven (TU/e) Jacob relies on his background in architectural theory and philosophy, dealing with the assessment of designs and design decisions. His department focuses particularly on the social-physical space: the relationship between humans and their environment. The aim is to train people to serve society with adequate knowledge, effective skills and a well-founded attitude by discussing and investigating the conditionality of these competenciesrelying on a scientific attitude.

Jacob Voorthuis lectures in the philosophy of the built environment at TU/e. He graduated in Art History at Leiden University of Leiden in 1988, specialising in Art Theory and Aesthetics. In 1996 he defended his doctorate, which attempted to confront the subject of architectural design and its role in society with philosophical analysis. He has a special interest in the rela- tionship between spatial practice and design, his research is concerned with the possibility of judging designs and design decisions from the perspective of a developing ontology of use, the attempt to remodel our conception of use and the useful in design thinking.

Writingplace Journal #2 cover
How to Cite
HAVIK, Klaske; OLIVEIRA, Susana; VOORTHUIS, Jacob. Inscription: Tracing Place. Writingplace, [S.l.], n. 2, p. 3-10, oct. 2018. ISSN 2589-7691. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 22 feb. 2019. doi: