Urban Knowledge Network Asia UKNA
International Network for Architectural and Urban Research

Urban Knowledge Network Asia UKNA

Network for the nurturing of knowledge on Asian cities

Consisting of over 100 researchers from 16 institutes in Europe, China, India and the United States, the Urban Knowledge Network Asia (UKNA) represents the largest academic international network on Asian cities. It is funded by the International Research Staff Exchange Scheme (IRSES), which is part of the European Union's 7th framework programme.

The four-year project was launched in April 2012 and is based on the conclusion that given the wave of urbanisation currently sweeping Asia, a majority of the overall population will be living in urban areas by 2030. This situation calls for effective urban management that will create a balance between the benefits and costs of urbanisation in a context of unprecedented growth of Asia's cities and megacities.      

With this in mind, the network's objective is to study how Asian cities, as organic socio-spatial entities, can develop appropriate policies and improve their liveability. Its functioning is based on interchange between researchers in the different countries involved. While carrying out their own research, they work part-time on producing knowledge that can be shared and mutualised within the network.

The programme comprises research projects pursuing three themes. While not independent of each other, these themes are interconnected by the common challenges of urban planning, management and governance.

  • The 'Heritage' theme encompasses tangible and intangible urban patrimony, including cities’ historic built environment as well as their traditions, memories and social fabric.
  • The 'Housing' theme examines the housing sector, from buildings and neighbourhoods to issues of housing policy and social and economic development, including spatial planning and poverty reduction.
  • The 'Environment' theme covers issues of sustainable urban development, including “liveable” cities, transportation planning, urbanisation and climate change, urban disaster management, and innovations in building technology.

These themes have given rise to three collectively developed lines of research whose results will be summed up in publications in 2015: The Future of Cities, Cities by and for the People, and Ideas of the City (see the section on 'Architecture and Cities in Contemporary Asia: Heritage and Projects' in the introduction to the Joint Research Unit).

The UKNA network is hosted by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS, Leiden, Netherlands) and coordinated by 4 European bodies: the Paris-Belleville National School of Architecture, the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft, Netherlands), the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS, Netherlands), and the Development Planning Unit (DPU, London, UK).

The network's other members are the University of Southern California (USC Price) and in Asia, the following institutions:

  • Asia Research Institute (ARI), Singapore
  • College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Beijing University of Technology (CAUP, Beijing, China)
  •  School of Architecture, Tianjin University (Tianjin, China)
  • Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, Shanghai Academy of Social Science (CURS, Shanghai, China)
  • China Academy of Urban Planning and Design (CAUPD, Beijing, China)
  • Department of Architecture, Hong Kong University (HKU, Hong Kong)
  • Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Macao
  • Indian Institute for Human Settlement (IIHS, Bangalore, India)
  • Ambedkar University (AUD, Delhi, India)
  • Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT, Ahmedabad, India)
  • Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, National Taiwan University (NTUBP)

At the Paris-Belleville National School of Architecture UKNA network research is directed by Nathalie Lancret, research coordination by Adèle Esposito and administration by Hang Le Minh.

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International Network for Architectural and Urban Research

'Asia-Pacific Metropolises: Comparative Architecture and Urbanism'

Created in 1999 at the Paris-Belleville National School of Architecture, 'Asia-Pacific Metropolises: Comparative Architecture and Urbanism' exists to produce and enhance knowledge at the interface between a research field relating to the teaching and practice of architecture and a specific geographical and cultural region.

The network's project hinges on establishing a close connection between basic research, applied research and teaching. This notably involves the Masters and post-Masters architectural and urban project courses – the principal concern of the National Schools of Architecture – and the doctorate.

The network has a dual aim: to unify work on the creation of material space in Asia-Pacific cities, and on their architectural and urban objects as observed through their processes of design, production and reception; and to develop or revitalize interdisciplinary approaches relating to a given theme or area in the light of this stated intention.

The network is organised by IPRAUS and the AUSser Joint Research Unit and has close ties to the 'Architecture and Cities in Contemporary Asia: Heritage and Project' research theme. The network's partners are research teams, higher education establishments, national and international bodies, and researchers in France and abroad – in Asia in particular.

Through its European and Asian partnerships, the network undertakes multidisciplinary comparative ventures, capitalises research results and develops research programmes; some of these are instrumental, bearing on research tools and corpuses, and have led to the creation of specialised bibliographic, cartographic and iconographic collections. 

The research programmes that have emerged from the network have enabled long-term accumulation of distinctive bodies of knowledge – languages, in-depth acquaintance with geohistorical and cultural contexts – involving intersecting disciplines; as well as experimentation with tools for the surveying and analysis of the architectural and urban forms specific to the geographical and cultural region in question.

Our activities for the period 2015–2018 centre on an investigation of the concepts, referents and spatial cultures underpinning the fabric of contemporary Asian cities. In a context of intensification and acceleration of interaction at regional and international level, we come to grips with this urban fabric in terms of the dynamics of circulation, transfer and exchange percolating through the architectural and urban projects carried out by different categories of actors.

Three research themes have emerged from this wide-ranging investigation and have been elaborated on through individual and group research projects:

  • The relationship with heritage in spatial projects in Southeast Asia.
  • Circulation, exchange and hybridisation of architectural and urban referents.
  • Ideas of the city in Asia.

Research coordination: Nathalie Lancret and Adèle Esposito

Principal network partners

In Thailand

Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok)

Kasetsart University (Bangkok)

Chiang Mai University

In Cambodia

APSARA: Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor

and the Region of Siem Reap

Center for Khmer Studies (Siem Reap)

The Royal University of Fine Arts (Phnom Penh)

In Indonesia

Gadjah Mada University (Yogyakarta)

Diponegoro University(Semarang)

Udayana University (Denpasar)

In Laos

The Ministry of Public Works and Transport

The National University of Laos

In Vietnam

Cooperation Center for Urban Development

University of Architecture

National Institute of Social Sciences

School of Civil Engineering

HCMV School of Architecture

University of Danang

Hué Monuments Conservation Center

In Singapore

National University of Singapore

Nanyang Technological University

In China

Tongji University, Shanghai

Wuhan University

Xi'an University of Architecture and Technology

TianJin University (Hong Kong)


Created in November 2005, this network is devoted to the 12 major fortifications designed by the Marquis de Vauban that appear on the UNESCO World Heritage List (

The network has three aims:

  • in association with the relevant government agencies, to coordinate measures for the preservation, management and enhancement of this remarkable architectural, urban and landscape heritage, and in particular the projects carried out by the cities in charge of the sites.
  • to assist in the development of a high-quality exchange network covering maintenance, restoration, preservation and enhancement of the Vauban sites, as well as related tourist and cultural activities.
  • to establish an internationally functioning resource centre based on management of the Vauban fortifications heritage.

In 2009 the National School of Architecture at Paris-Belleville entered a multiannual partnership with the Vauban Network that enabled the creation of an 'Architecture Hub' directed by the architect-urbanist Philippe Prost, who coordinates its research and teaching activities. The partnership notably involves the organisation of an annual architecture studio on one of the network's sites: each studio's work is brought together in a booklet and a public exhibition.  

The Vauban Network sites so far studied by Philippe Prost's architecture studio are:

  • 2009: the citadel at Besançon
  • 2010: the Fort des Têtes at Briançon
  • 2011: the citadel at Arras
  • 2012: the fortified city of Neuf-Brisach
  • 2013: the tower at Saint-Vaast la Hougue
  • 2014: the fortified city of Longwy

In 2007, Philippe Prost published Vauban: le style de l’intelligence (Archibooks), which was awarded the Academy of Architecture's  Architecture Book Prize.

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