Urban Design as Cross-Cultural Practice. The Work of Michel Ecochard

Tom Avermaete
Seit 2017

The biography of Michel Ecochard (1905–1985) reads as a fascinating saga of migrations between geographies, cultures and disciplines. Ecochard was not only trained in the fields of archeology, architecture and urbanism, but also practiced in all of these fields throughout his career. Mapping historical monuments in Syria, defining urban development plans for several metropolises in Africa or designing refugee housing in Karachi all belonged to his professional scope.
The most remarkable feature of Ecochard’s work is its productive intertextuality: perspectives, concepts, and instruments are continually shifted between the knowledge fields and professional cultures of archeology, architecture and urbanism to devise innovative analytical approaches, as well as innovative strategies of intervention.
These new analytical and projective methods did not remain simply theoretical ventures. On the contrary: throughout most of his career Ecochard worked in the highly charged conditions of the decolonising territories or young nation states, which were in search of new models of development and original urban identities. Especially in Africa and the Middle East, Ecochard contributed to an alternative conception of architectural design and urban planning. In a period of Cold War politics, he seems to offer a different approach to the built environment that did not comply to either Western or Eastern models, but instead suggested a third way from, and in, the Global South.


Prof. Dr. Tom Avermaete