Florian Kossak

Dr Florian Kossak

Senior Lecturer for Urban History, Theory and Design

MArch, PhD

T: +44 (0)114 222 0341
E: f.kossak@sheffield.ac.uk

I studied architecture at the Technical University Berlin and received my MArch (with Distinction) from the University of Strathclyde in 1997. After a seven-year-long collaboration with the Munich-based architect Otto Steidle I co-founded the workers co-operative GLAS – Glasgow Letters on Architecture and Space in 2001. In parallel, I have been teaching architecture and urbanism in the design studio and through history and theory courses since 1997, first at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, then Strathclyde University and, since 2006, at the University of Sheffield where I am currently the Director of Postgraduate Taught Masters Programmes. In 2008 I received my PhD from the Edinburgh College of Art with a thesis on ‘The Laboratory Exhibition and the Experimental Production of Architecture’.

Teaching Activities

My teaching commitments at the Sheffield School of Architecture cover both teaching in professionally accredited proprammes (BArch/MArch) as well as Postgraduate Masters programmes. The focus is hereby on the delivery of lectures, seminars and 1:1 tutorials in architectural and urban history and theory as well as lead and tutoring in the urban design studio.

I am responsible for the coordination and delivery of 2 lecture-based modules and support other staff in the delivery of their modules. I am involved in/or oversee the assessment of all modules in which I teach. Through my role as Director of Postgraduate Taught Masters Programmes I am involved in the conceptual development and strategic planning of delivery of other programmes and teaching modules throughout the Graduate School.

Teaching Modules PGT Masters

ARC6984, History and Theory of Urban Design, Module leader
ARC 6852, Urban (Hi)stories, Module leader,
ARC 6979, Urban Design Tools and Methods, Lecturer
ARC6978/ARC6981, Urban Design Project 1+2, Studio Tutor
ARC6982, Urban Design Thesis Project, Supervisor

Teaching Modules Undergraduate and MArch

ARC 303, Humanities 5, Urban (Hi-)Stories, Module Leader
ARC 204, Humanities 4, Contemporary Issues in Architecture, Lecturer
ARC 322, Special Studies/Dissertation, Supervisor
ARC 556/566, Dissertation 1+2, Supervisor

Teaching Examples

All listed teaching examples link with past and continuous research on urban and architectural history and theory.

Module ARC303 / ARC6852 Urban (Hi)Stories
Lecture course, 12 lectures plus seminars and tutorials
Core module for BArch Year 3, option module for MA and MArch Y5 students, 15 Credits
The lecture series challenges the narrow definitions of cities that continue in circulation within architectural education and practice. It presents numerous ways in which, or the tools with which, both citizens and architects might understand cities more broadly. It investigated hereby the dialectic between alleged subjective and objective, between the position of the amateur and that of the professional, testing the portrayal through the former against the orthodoxy of the latter.
Focal points are the presentation and discussion of city case studies (including Berlin, Rome, Mumbai, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Paris, Sao Paolo, Las Vagas, Istanbul, Erbil, Glasgow a.o.). The lectures also present a set of thematic issues concerning cities and their historic development, usage and perception/representation, including Power and Politics; Nature, Technology and Science, Society, Body and Gender; Culture(s); Production and Consumption; War. These city case studies and topics are explored through issues of historic and contemporary urban developments as well as different approaches of representation that go beyond the usual survey methodologies deployed by architecture and urbanism, including and combining literature, film, sociology, economics, art practice, and other culturally related disciplines.

Module ARC6984 History and Theory of Urban Design
This module aims to expose the student to the breadth, variety and complexity of the various theories and forms of urban design – intentional or incidental – that are characteristic of human urban settlements throughout the world and to examine how and why they were created and/or took the form they now have.
The lectures introduce students to thematic topics (Hygiene; Movement; Ecology; Image; Place; History; Order; Time; Agency) through which Urban Design, its divers historical development as well as its defining written theories can be understood and compared with one another. They offer a topical view on Urban Design History and Theory that is less driven by a chronological narrative (ie 19th Century, Modernism, Post-Modernism ...) or a regional or cultural contextualization (ie Anglo-Saxon, Italian, Asian ... theories). It also demonstrates that one particular theory or historical ‘piece’ of urban design can be viewed through the lens of different topics, - consequently offering different readings of the same source.

Modules ARC322/ARC556/ARC6982 Special Studies/PGT Thesis/PGR Thesis
Although distinct modules for their respective cohort I aim to create as much synergies as possible between the students and my research. This leads to a reciprocal relation of research-led teaching and teaching-led research and enables me to develop areas of research and associated publications, often also working with students, on all levels, to promote their work through publications and conferences/seminars. Thematically I am clustering the students along my key fields of research allowing for joint reading groups, seminars, and tutorials.

Urban (Hi-)Stories
‘Tempelhof – Articulating the Void: Evolving Approaches to Spatial Authenticity’ (N. Lincoln/MArch)
‘The Ghosts of Ireland’s Past’ (C. O’Sullivan/MArch)
‘Athens in Crisis – An inside look’ (M. Bellou/Year 3)
‘Page Hall: Stories of housing inequality in Sheffield’ (R.Francis/Year 3)
‘Misrata at War and After: Politics, Medicine and Memory’, (H. Shibu/Year 3)
‘Vele di Scampia - failure and possible future of a housing project’, (L. Scaletti Guglielmetti/Year 3)
‘How has Thatcherism affected Housing in the United Kingdom’, (G. Bridgewood/Year 3)
‘“They will be pulling this down soon” - Gleadless Valley, Past-Present-Future’, (T. Doughty/Year 3)
‘Contradictions of socio-spatial elements which shape urban division in Nicosia’, (S. Porfyriou/Year 3)
‘Occupying the Threshold as Antidote to the Transient City’, (H. Pether/MArch)

Radical Urbanism
‘Spatial Appropriation as a Means to ‘Citizenship’, (A. Saxeena/MArch)
‘Bogotà, from Dystopia to urban model’, (G. Torino/MArch)
‘Re-Invent’ Metaxourgeio: An Investigation on the Phenomenon of Gentrification’, (S. Tsikouni/Year 3)
‘Just Urbanism – Local and Global Perspectives’ (P. Akbari/PhD)
‘New Prospects for Low-Cost Housing in the Gaza Strip’ (A ElAstal/PhD)
‘Rehabilitation and Redevelopment of Squatter Settlements in Dharavi’, (P. Kide/PGT)
‘How to translate the co-housing methods to the old structures of Shanghai’ (Y. Fu/PGT)
‘Border Regeneration of Urban Villages in Guangzhou’s Central Area’, (B. Chen/PGT)
‘Mutha Riverfront Development, Pune, India’ (N. Katdare/PGT)
‘Designing Public Open Spaces for the Regeneration Yinxiang’, (Y. Xin/PGT)

Mediation of Architecture
‘Rodchenko – Deconstructing Constructivism’ (E.Burton’/Year 3)
‘Liubbov Popova - A journal of Russian Constructivism’, (S. Mandziuk/Year 3)
‘The political, cultural and economic icon’ (E Page/Year 3)
’Artists in Design: Experimental Practice at Senezh Studio 1964-1984’ (T. Cubbin/PhD)
‘Negotiating the Spectacle: Projecting Fact, Fantasy and Fiction in Dubai’ (A.Towel/March)

Architecture as Urban Method
‘Tactics of Urban Negotiations’ (M. Hesketh/MArch)
‘Urban Elements and Identity: A Socio-Spatial Reading of Urban Kampungs’, (R. Damayanti/PhD)
‘Hybrid Buildings of Cities in Evolution: A Crafted Diary’, (X. Ren/PhD)
‘Student Space – The inhabitation of Sheffield’s Terrace House’ (I. Simion/Year 3)
‘Urban form and design decisions in Erbil’, Iraq’(C. Sabr/PhD)
‘Adaptability of Villages within Urban Thresholds, Bengaluru, India’ (C. Shila Mohan/PGT)
‘Flexible Social Space in Urban Kampungs in Surabaya, Indonesia’ (W. Yapeter/PGT)
‘The impact of City Environments on University Campuses in Iraq’ (U. Meri/PhD)
‘Boundaries and Tactics in Public Space – Wan Chai Street Market’, (K. Lo/MArch)

Administrative Roles

Director of Postgraduate Taught Masters Programmes

PGT Masters Admissions Tutor
Chair of the SSoA PGT Committee
Member and Co-chair of SSoA PG Student/Staff Committee
Member of SSoA Learning and Teaching Committee
Member of SSoA Health and Safety Committee
Departmental UCU Union Representative
Internal Examiner for PhDs and PhD Upgrades

In the past, I have held the positions of Director of External Relations (2009-2011), Erasmus-Coordinator (2009-2011), Undergraduate Admissions Selector (2008-2011), and Programme Leader for MA in Urban Design (2007-2013), a new Masters programme that I instigated at the SSoA.

Research Interests

Research Areas

My research evolves around a critical investigation of the historical production and mediation processes of architecture and cities. Particular focus is hereby on
a) research into the perception and mediation of cities and our life within them
b) research into the experimentation with and through architectural exhibitions.
c) research into the methodologies of architecture and urbanism that can address uneven development

A predominant medium of communication and research within my academic and other professional practice concerns the production of experimental exhibition. I have designed and curated exhibitions and work shown in the public realm as well as in prestigious public institutions and private galleries including the Institut français d’architecture in Paris, the Venice Architecture Biennale, The Lighthouse in Glasgow, or the Aedes Gallery in Berlin.

Research Projects in Progress

‘Transformative Architectural Exhibitions and Urban Regeneration in Berlin 1968-1984’
The project explores a now historical process in which architectural exhibitions developed from notions of a visualized and spatialized critical theory to a type of exhibition that can be described as 'Transformative Praxis'. By analysing the specific and unique urban, socio-political setting of West-Berlin during a defined historical period, 1968-84, in relation to a developing exhibitions praxis the research projects brings together divers fields of scholarly, and professional, knowledge, thus closing an existing gap and creating synergies on topical and methodological level that shall be of relevance for academic, professionals and an engaged public alike.

‘RAUM – Researching Architecture as an Urban Method’
(with B. De Carli and T. Schneider)
RAUM brings together academics and research students from the University of Sheffield, Nanjing University, Johannesburg University and CEPT (Ahmedabad) to rethink the capacities, qualities, methodologies and tools that spatial practitioners need to develop in order to have a positive impact in the face of global challenges affecting cities, such as climate change and social inequality. Partners will take part in teaching and research collaborations and a series of symposia that will focus on distinct aspects of design education in relation to global challenges. The project aims to make explicit the diverse set of techniques, tools and actions that can be employed in these contexts. It consolidates and builds on work around tools and methods for creative engagement that were developed within the context of the MA in Urban Design Programme at Sheffield over the past 6 years.

‘Radical Urbanism’
While Radical Urbanism is a term and concept that is used in fields such as planning, human geography, sociology, or critical theory to describe a politically engaged interpretation of the built environment which seeks to achieve social and spatial justice this critical discourse is largely absent from the field of architecture and urban design. What is therefore missing is an analytical and propositional position that would give answers to the question how such social and spatial justice is manifested through built space and architecture. The project thus investigates historical, transformative experiments in architecture and urban design of the Avant-garde in the 1920s as well politically, socially and ecologically motivated positions of the 1960s and '70s; it further looks at contemporary expressions and positions in architecture and urban design concerned with informal urbanism, bottom-up approaches, collaborative production of built environments. Of particular interest are hereby tactical approaches in user-led developments in cities of the Global South.

Urban (Hi)Stories
(with S. Walker)
This is a research and publication project originating from the Urban Histories lecture series in Year 3 of the School of Architecture at the University of Sheffield. The project aims to challenge the narrow definitions of cities that continue in circulation within architectural education and practice. The project is engaged with transforming the ways in which, or the tools with which, both citizens and architects might understand cities more broadly. It investigates hereby the dialectic between alleged subjective and objective, of the position of the amateur and the professional, and tests the portrayal through former against the orthodoxy of the latter. It does this through a concrete investigation and portrayal of world-wide selection of city case studies (including Berlin, Tokyo, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Rome, Las Vegas, Lagos, or Mumbai).

PhD Students

Current Research Students:

Deniz Kesici, 'Everyday Practices in Public Space: Self-Expression and Resistance ads Creative Process', (1st Supervisor), since 2017

Yang Yang, '(Re-)evaluating public space in Japan: historical evolution, morphology and human behavior in metropolitan Tokyo', (1st Supervisor), since 2017

Basma Massoud, 'Integrated public and private spaces in the contemporary oriental city', (1st Supervisor), since 2017

Sheng Song, ‘Constructing Urban Streets with Liveability in China’, (Co-supervisor), since 2016

Ula Merie, ‘The impact of City Environments on University Campuses in Iraq’, Fully Sponsored, (1st supervisor), since 2015

Pouyan Akbari, ‘Just Urbanism – Local and Global Perspectives’, (2nd Supervisor), since 2013

Ahmed Elastal, ‘New Prospects for Low-Cost Housing in the Gaza Strip’, Fully Sponsored, (2nd Supervisor), since 2011

PhD Completions:

Xiang Ren, ‘Hybrid Buildings of Cities in Evolution: A Crafted Diary’, (2017, 1st Supervisor)

Chwas Sabr, ‘Urban Form and Regulations: A Morphological Analysis of Erbil City’ (2016, 1st Supervisor)

Tom Cubbin, ’Artists in Design: Experimental Practice at Senezh Studio 1964-1984’, (2016, 2nd Supervisor)

Rully Damayanti, ‘Urban Elements and Identity: A Socio-Spatial Reading by Young People of ‘Urban Kampungs’ in Surabaya’ (2015, 1st Supervisor)

Hassan Khalifehei, ‘A New Sustainable Future for Isfahan, Iran’ (2014, 2nd Supervisor)

PhD Supervision Interests

I am interested to receive proposals that broadly fall into the categories of Urban history, contemporary urbanism, urban design, or the experimental mediation of architecture. I favour quantitative and experimental methodologies with visual and design research methods. My regional focus is, although not exclusively, on cities of the Indian Sub-continent and China as well as Berlin.

Grants, Awards and Consultancy

Research and Project Grants

2016, ‘Researching Architecture as an Urban Method [RAUM]’
ICM/Erasmus+ 2016 Key Action 107, British Council, Grant: €190.488; Joint PI with B De Carli, and T. Schneider

2015, ‘Urban Design Methodologies and Tools for the Engaged Practitioner’, Engaged Curriculum Fund / TUOS/FSC, Grant: £2.000; Joint PI with C.Cerulli and B.De Carli

2015, ‘Archiving AGENCY’ , SURE / TUOS, Grant: £1200; Co-I (Agency)

2012, ‘Theory Forum: Urban Blind Spots’, Methodological Innovation Fund / TUOS/FSC, Grant: £2.000; Joint PI with T. Schneider and S. Walker

2012, ‘Variations on a Theme – A typo-morphological survey of the Berlin Mietskaserne’, SURE – TUOS, Grant: £1.130; Sole PI

2012, ‘E Tu Cosa Ci Vedi’, Citta di Venezia, Contract: €20.000, Contractural responsibility for AGENCY, collaboration with Fram_menti, Castelfranco

2011, ‘WAVE 11 - ‘Taking Part’, IUAV – Venice, Contract: €5.000; Joint PI with C. Cerulli, T. Schneider for AGENCY

2009, ‘ECOLOGY Theory Forum’, IBL Grant, Cilass, TUOS, grant: £3.930; Joint PI with T. Schneider, S Walker, for AGENCY

2008, ‘RHYZOM – trans local cultural production’
Culture 2007, European Union, Overall project budget: €380,000; Sheffield budget: €46,500; Joint PI for Sheffield part with C. Cerulli, D. Petrescu and T. Schneider for AGENCY

2007, ‘SHIFTS – Projections into the Future of the Central Belt’
ACCESS into Architecture, Scottish Executive / The Lighthouse, Total budget £117.500, Sole PI

2007, ‘Glasgow is Made by Us’, SIX Cities / Scottish Executive, Total budget: £52.750; Sole PI

2006, ‘PEPRAV - European Platform for Alternative Practice and Research on the City’, Culture 2000, European Union, Overall project budget: €190,000; Sheffield budget: € 22,000; Joint PI for Sheffield part with D. Petrescu and T. Schneider

2005, ‘On the Edge’, Innovation Fund , The Lighthouse / Scottish Executive, Grant: £5,000; Joint PI with A. Atlee and T. Schneider (G.L.A.S.)

2005, ‘Tales between Two Cities’, The Lighthouse/Scottish Executive, Innovation Fund, Grant: £4.700, Sole PI

2005, 'Spaces of Labour', German Federal Culture Foundation (Bundeskulturstiftung), Contract: €10,000; Joint PI with A. Atlee and T. Schneider (G.L.A.S.)

2003, ‘Unser Berlin / Our Berlin’, British Council + The Lighthouse/Scottish Executive, Innovation Fund, Grant: £8,000; Joint PI with A. Atlee and T. Schneider (G.L.A.S.)

2002, ‘Radical Architecture at Documenta X’, Scottish Arts Council, Travel Grant: £500

2002, ‘Radical Architecture at Urban Catalyst’, Scottish Arts Council, Travel Grant: £500

2001, ‘Urban Cabaret’, Scottish Arts Council, Grant: £8675, CoI with A.Atlee and T.Schneider (G.L.A.S.)

2000, ‘Perspektive Domagk’, Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Grant: DM1.000

2000, ‘Traumhaus 2000 - Agentur für Wohnwünsche’, AkademieVerein München, Grant: DM2.000

1992, ‘Wohltemperierte Architektur / Welltempered Architecture’, Architektenkammer Berlin / British Council / Commission of the EU. GD XII, Grant: DM10.000

Awards, Prizes, and Competitions

2011, ‘San Giobbe study’, winning bid against established Italian urbanism practices to conduct a study on participatory planning strategies for the San Giobbe area in Venice, AGENCY in collaboration with Fram_menti (lead)

2011, ‘Conditions’, 2nd Prize, with T. Schneider, International Competition on the 'Future of Competitions' organized by Scandinavian architecture and urbanism magazine

2004, ‘National Achievement Award in Architecture’, with G.L.A.S. (£5,000), Scottish Executive and The Lighthouse, GLAS was awarded this prestigious award for its critical work on the production and use of architecture and the urban environment within the Scottish context and beyond and its effort for find innovative ways to distribute this work to a wide ranging audience beyond the profession.

2000, ‘Future Vision Housing’, Architekturforum Oberösterreich, short-listed with T.Schneider, International Ideas Competition

1993-2000 Otto Steidle +Partner, numerous national and international design competition prizes and short-listings

Professional Standing and Distinctions

Member of Learned Societies

Architecture Humanities Research Association, AHRA [UK]
Netzwerk Architekturwissenschaft [D]
College of Art Association [USA]

External Examiner and Programme Evaluation

2016- External Examiner MArch Design; University of Nottingham
2015- External Examiner MA in Architecture, Planning & Landscape; University of Newcastle
2012 Course Evaluation, MA in Urban Design KTH Stockholm
2010 Course Evaluation, Akademie der Bildenden Künste München

Invited Guest Critic and Lecturer

Akademie der Bildenden Künste München (Germany); CEPT, Ahmedabad (India); Edinburgh College of Art (UK); Glasgow School of Art (UK); HafenCity University Hamburg (Germany); HIT, Harbin (China); KTH Stockholm (Sweden); Lund University (Sweden); Manchester University (UK); Nanjing University (China); Nottingham University (UK); Politecnico di Milano (Italy); Tianjin University (China) Technical University Berlin (Germany); Technical University München (Germany); University of Strathclyde (UK)


A list of key publications can be found below. For a full list of recent publications please click here.


  • Kossak F (2010) Agency: Working with Uncertain Architectures. Taylor & Francis. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Kossak F (2007) Shifts Projections Into the Future of the Central Belt. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Noël D & Kossak F (2002) Hambourg. Institut Français Architecture. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Kossak F (1994) Otto Steidle bewohnbare Bauten. Ellipsis London, Limited / Artemis Zurich, London. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Steidle O, von Gagern V, Kossak F & Wiesner E (1993) Architectural - Otto Steidle, Verena von Gagern. Munich: Nazraeli Press. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Kossak F (2019) Strategien Für Kreuzberg: Relocating the Urban Regeneration Debates into the Neighbourhood, The Competition Grid (pp. 181-189). RIBA Publishing RIS download Bibtex download
  • Kossak F (2016) Aktion 507: politics become theory become praxis In Stoppani T, Ponzo G & Themistokleous G (Ed.), This Thing Called Theory (pp. 137-146). London: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Kossak F (2012) Productive Exhibitions: looking backwards to go forwards In McLeod S, Hanks L & Hale J (Ed.), Museum Making - Narratives, Architectures, Exhibitions (pp. 213-222). Oxon / New York: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Kossak F, Schneider T, Cerulli C, Tyszczuk R, Butterworth C, AGENCY & Fram-menti (2012) Taking Part / transformative practices in the city In Gianni E (Ed.), Workshop 2011; Facolta di Architettura di Venezia (pp. 22-27). Venice: Marsilio Editori. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Cerulli C, Kossak F, Petrescu D & Schneider T (2010) Agencies of Live Projects In Petrescu P, Petcou C & Awan N (Ed.), Trans-local-act: Cultural practices within and across (pp. 172-210). Paris: aaa/peprav. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Kossak F (2009) Exhibiting Architecture: The installation as laboratory for emerging architecture In Chaplin S (Ed.), Curating Architecture and the City (pp. 117-128). Oxon / New York: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Kossak F (2007) Thinking about Berlin In Tyszczuk R (Ed.), Architecture & Interdependence - Mappings and Explorations of Studio Six (pp. 88-93). Cambridge: Shed. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Kossak F, Schneider T & GLAS (2007) G.L.A.S. / Glasgow Letters on Architecture and Space, Urban/act Practices, Groups, Networks, Workspaces, Organisations, Tools, Methods, Projects, Data & Texts (pp. 130-141). RIS download Bibtex download


  • Kossak F & Schneider T (2010) To Whom It May Concern. Conditions, The Future of Competitions(7), 62-63. RIS download Bibtex download

Edited books

  • Kossak F, Petrescu D, Schneider T & Tyszczuk T (Eds.) (2009) Agency: Working with Uncertain Architectures. Oxon / New York: Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download