Copyright: Urban Language

(Re)search and Design:


Learning from China

Spring 2013
We are currently working on a study of Good Practices in Chinese new towns.

Urban Design Workshop in India

November-December 2012
Urban Language was invited to participate in a 10-day cross-disciplinairy urban design workshop on the development of a new town in central India.

Research for Moscow Urban Forum 2012

Autumn 2012
Urban Language was asked as Chinese representative by the organizing committee of the Moscow International Urban Forum «Emerging World Cities» to do preliminary research on the quality of life as experienced by residents of Beijing and Shanghai.

Moment of reflection in Moscow's new town development

Shanghai, Autumn 2012
Urban Language was invited as critical independent expert to contribute a chapter to a book on conurbations, commissioned by the Moscow Urban Planning Institute. This book serves as a moment of reflection in the development of a new city near Moscow.

Dutch New Worlds

Scenarios in Physical Planning and Design in the Netherlands, 1970-2000
Shanghai - Zurich - Rotterdam, June 2012
"Our decisions shape our future, but we know little about how. To find out, planners and designers construct vivid images of what could be."
Urban Language translated Christian Salewski's fascinating book on the use of scenarios in physical planning and design in the Netherlands into Dutch.

Edge of Public

Exhibition + book + forum in Hong Kong's Kowloon Park, curated by Liu Yuyang, Li Xiangning, and Harry den Hartog
Hong Kong, 16 February - 23 April, 2012
In the countless new town developments in China, we witnessed an increasingly privatized domain both spatially and socially. What is the real shape of the public domain and how can architects respond to this phenomenon?

History and Design Studio Shanghai

Workshop and lecture
Turin, 2012
Politecnico di Torino asked Urban Language for inspiration, assistance, and critique regarding an in-depth investigation into the drastic morphological changes in and around Shanghai.

Critical advice on developing a new town (2)

Liaoning, 2011
Urban Language was asked to give an independent critical reflection on existing plans for a new town near Shenyang supplemented by suggestions for further development.

Redevelopment plan for an island

Vladivostok / Shanghai, 2011
Urban Language consulted with the international communications and strategy to be followed, and made a master plan, in a design competition regarding the redevelopment of a Russian island near Vladivostok.

Critical advice on developing a new town (1)

Beijing, 2011
Urban Language was asked to give an independent critical reflection on existing plans for a new town near Beijing supplemented by suggestions for further development.

Advice on various international projects

Shanghai, 2011
In the autumn of 2011, Urban Language worked on several studies and consultations commissioned by professionals related with Tongji University.

Urban China magazine

Shanghai, 2011 - 2012
Urban Language consults regularly with the urban research center of Urban China magazine. Harry den Hartog was member of the editorial board of #51 and #52.

Area development in rural Henan

Zhengzhou, 2011
Urban Language has been consulted by a local developer for independent critical advice in an area development in rural Henan.


Shanghai New Towns

Searching for community and identity in a sprawling metropolis
Shanghai, 2010
Research on the rapid urbanization and decentralization in the direct controlled municipality Shanghai, resulting in the book Shanghai New Towns - Searching for community and identity in a sprawling metropolis, published by 010 Publishers.

From Almere to Qingpu

Shanghai, 13-19 May 2010
Urban Language coordinated an excursion for the International New Town Institute (INTI) with as central theme the new towns and new cities around Shanghai.

Rural Kitchen

Chongming Island, Fall 2009
Harry den Hartog gave a lecture and was jury member during the Rural Kitchen workshop, which was organized by the Tongji University Shanghai and Bern University.

Urban Flux

Beijing, Summer 2009
The Chinese magazine Urban Flux invited Harry den Hartog as a guest-editor to make this special issue on Dutch Architects and China. The magazine also discusses the state of architecture in the Netherlands.

BNSP workshop discussion

Amsterdam, 22 October 2009
Urban Language organized a workshop discussion on the urbanization of the Dutch countryside during a BNSP Congress.

Shanghai Dialogues

Shanghai, 17 October 2009
Urban Language mediated the Chinese contacts during a Sino-Dutch conference, as part of the Shanghai International Creative Industry Week.

Shanghai Globalism

Shanghai, 2009
Organisation of a study tour to the 'One City - Nine Towns' development around Shanghai commissioned by New York University.

Urban Galleries

Nanjing - Rotterdam, 2009
Organization of a study trip through Germany and the Netherlands for a group of young Chinese designers and critics with a special interest in museums

Are cities more important than countries?

Rotterdam, 2008-2009
Publication commissioned by the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) on the occasion of its 50th anniversary

Urban Meetings

Rotterdam, October 2008
Urban Language made a series of reports and an essay, commissioned by the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), meant to explore the outlines of an 'Urban Agenda' for the 21st century.

A Wider View

Apeldoorn, summer and spring 2008
Urban Language was embedded as reporter during the conference A Wider View on Cultural Landscape Challenges in Europe, which makes part of the Apeldoorn International Triennial. The report formed a basis for the 'Radio Kootwijk Frequency', a call to strengthen the quality of all landscapes in Europe.


Rotterdam, 2008
Design study on urban renewal and restructuring of a monumental neighbourhood

PowerNotes IABR

Rotterdam, 2007
Urban Language wrote and edited PowerNotes, the weblog of the 3rd International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam. The log gives background information, interviews, impressions, photography, video's, quotes from visitors and special guests, and critical reviews.

The power of small scale

Rotterdam - Almere, 2007
Design study for urban renewal in the Dutch newtown Almere.


Executive-editor of Huig#8 and Huig#9
Rotterdam, 2007
Harry den Hartog was executive-editor of Huig#8 and Huig#9, the biannual magazine of the Rotterdam Academy of Architecture and Urban Design.

NL2040 - Hints for later

The Hague - Rotterdam, 2007
Harry den Hartog wrote a number of columns, reports and an extensive essay as input for a series of meetings and debates with the aim to give an 'alternative' vision on future spatial tasks for The Netherlands.

Living farmyards

Overijssel, 2006
The Dutch Province of Overijssel counts thousands of farmyards. Yearly several hundreds of them loose their agricultural function. The province asked us to do a research on the possibilities for transformation of abandoned and old farmyards.


Living outside the city
Rotterdam, 2006
The book Exurbia - living outside the city, made by Harry den Hartog, criticizes the fast changing Dutch countryside. The new spatial policy in the Netherlands seems to be a threat for the countryside and the edges between urban and rural. This book gives some critical comment on the new policy, supplemented with appropriate suggestions.

Private Territory

Study on the rise of private controlled outdoor spaces in the Netherlands
Rotterdam, 2005-2006
Following his graduation project at the Academy of Architecture and Urban Design in Rotterdam Harry den Hartog researched the rise of private controlled territories in The Netherlands.

Correspondent for ArchiNed

Rotterdam, since 2004
Harry den Hartog regularly contributes articles to ArchiNed and made part of the editorial team.

Forbidden Cities?

Rotterdam, 2004
'There is no such thing as society anymore, only families and individuals.' (Margaret Thatcher)
The graduation project 'Forbidden Cities?' by Harry den Hartog, at the Academy of Architecture and Urban Design in Rotterdam, gives a critical vision on the rise of exclusive domains (a kind of gated communities) in the Netherlands.



Attempts to Control Urbanization

Published in: Volume #39
April 2014
Article on China’s Hukou System: Attempts to Control Urbanization by Strictly Separating Urban and Rural

Urban Tensions in the Yangtze River Delta

Published in: IOSPress
April 2014
Essay contribution in the book 'New Urban Configurations'.

Eastern Promises

Contemporary Architecture and Spatial Practices in East Asia
Published in: Hantje Catz Verlag
Vienna, June 2013
We were invited by MAK (Austrian Museum of Applied Arts / Contemporary Art) to contribute a series of critical articles on pioneering architectural projects for an exhibit and accompanying catalog.

Shopping for History

Published in: Mark #43
Zhujiajiao, April/May 2013
Article on an urban renewal project in an ancient Chinese water town west of Shanghai.

Made in China

Published in: MARK #45
Dalian, Aug/Sept 2013
Article written at the request of MARK about the Dalian Conference Center, designed by Coop Himmelb(l)au: a prime example of thoroughness and precision work.


Published in: Society and Public Welfare
March 2013
Urban Language contributed an article at the request of a renowned Chinese magazine

Quality towers over quantity in building cities

China Should Learn From Europe and Lead the Way in Urban Planning
Published in: China Daily
Shanghai, 22 June 2012
Opinion piece for the newspaper China Daily, by Harry den Hartog. The inducement for writing this article was the Joint Declaration on the EU-China Partnership on Urbanization, signed by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and China's Vice-Premier Li Keqiang on 3 May 2012.

From central control towards laissez faire

Dutch title: Van staatsplanning naar wildgroei
Published in: S+RO
Shanghai, June 2012
Article about the similarities and differences between the Netherlands and China in the field of urban and regional planning.

Everyday Theme Parks 日常主题公园

The mall as escape from reality 商场桃花源
Published in: Urban China magazine #52
Shanghai, May 2012
Essay about the role of malls in contemporary China, with references to worldwide experiences, the decay of existing cities, an urban renaissance, and of course Michael Sorkin's 'Variations on a theme park: the new American city and the end of public space'.

From Qingpu to Jiading

Advanced planning within a sprawling metropolis
Published in: T+A magazine
Shanghai, January 2012
Essay on the urbanization of the countryside around Shanghai and the role of architects in creating new cities.

Nanjing Perspectives

Urban Language interviewed Steven Holl
Published in: MARK magazine #32
Nanjing, June/July 2011
Conversation on the design and building process of the Art & Architecture Museum in Nanjing.

Horticultural Exposition Xi'an

Published in: de Architect
Xi'an, May 2011
Report on the International Horticultural Exposition 2011 Xi'an.

Haphazard growth in a land of plenty

Published in: DAMn°28
Shanghai, April 2011
Essay on extremely fast and uncoordinated urban developments in Shanghai.

Creación de comunidad e identidad en los pueblos nuevos de Shanghai

Published in: Materia Arquitectura #2
Shanghai, November 2010
Essay on the creation of new communities and new identities in Shanghai for a Chilean magazine.

World Expo Shanghai

A confrontation with urbanization
Published in: de Architect
Shanghai, May 2010
Report on the World Expo in Shanghai for the Dutch magazine 'the Architect'.

Bubbles in Shanghai

Decentralization, speculation and the housing shortage
Published in: SR+O
Shanghai, April 2010
Essay on the effects of spatial and administrative decentralization, increasing speculation and huge housing shortage.


Letter from Sichuan
Published in: MARK magazine #23
Chengdu, December 2009 - January 2010
Report about reconstruction activities in the earthquake devastated area.

Reading the American Landscape

Green Fields, Orange Clouds
Chicago, September 2009
Essay on urban - rural relations in American cities, notably Chicago

Museum as billboard

Integrate Art and Living
Published in: MARK magazine #21
Guangzhou, August-September 2009
Visiting 'Times Museum' in Guangzhou.

Greener City, Better Life

Public Park as medicine
Published in: Urban China #37
Shanghai, August 2009
Essay for the magazine Urban China on the meaning of parks as public spaces, in east and west

Urbanus reinvents the wheel

Hakka Tulou in the 21st century
Published in: MARK magazine #20
Guangzhou, June-July 2009
An experiment with social housing by Urbanus.

City in a city

Linked Hybrid in Beijing
Published in: de Architect
Beijing, May 2009
That it is possible to combine climatic, economic and social sustainability in an overall concept has been demonstrated by Steven Holl Architects with Linked Hybrid.

Dutch architects building global architecture in China?

Works and experiences of Dutch architects in China
Published in: Urban Flux #7
Shanghai, May 2009
Essay on the works and experiences of Dutch architects in China.
Urban Language was also invited as a guest-editor for a special edition about 'Dutch architecure'. (circa 60 pages). The magazine also discusses recent projects and developments in the Netherlands.

Architecture as afterimage

Conversation with Ben van Berkel
Published in: id+c
Nanjing, May 2009
Urban Language interviewed Ben van Berkel on his design philosophy.

Sidewalk versus Mall

Public spaces under threat
Published in: Urban Flux #6
Shanghai, April 2009
Essay on the similarities and differences between the Netherlands and China, regarding the use and meaning of public spaces.

Building your own house

Published in: id+c
Nanjing, April 2009
Column on private commissioned housing in the Netherlands for the Chinese-language magazine id+c

Crystal Island

Symbol of Economic Growth and Socio-Cultural Development
Published in: 'Scape 02/2009
Shenzhen, February 2009
Report on a new project by OMA.

Architecture in the Netherlands

Published in: id+c
Nanjing, January 2009
Essay on recent developments in the field of architecture in the Netherlands. This essay is also an introduction for an extended special on Dutch Design.

Architecture without Building?

Published in: ArchiNed
Venice, 29 September 2008
Entitled 'Out There: Architecture Beyond Building', the 11th Venice Architecture Biennale aims to give new meaning to what we call architecture. "Architecture is not building," writes director Aaron Betsky in an essay, "Buildings are objects and the act of building leads to such objects, but architecture is something else."

Greenery & Community

Community gardens in New York
Published in: Club Donny #1
Rotterdam, Spring/Summer 2008
Essay for Club Donny, a new biennial magazine on the personal experience of nature in the urban environment.

Beijing 080808

The meaning of the Olympic Games for Beijing
Published in: de Architect
Beijing, August 2008
Host country China intends to use the Olympic Games that will take place this year in Beijing to show off what it has achieved. What is the impact of the Olympic Games on this city?

The Limits to Growth?

How Beijing is preparing for the future
Published in: de Architect
Beijing, August 2008
Beijing, like Shanghai, wants to present itself as a model city for the future. How will Beijing continue to develop itself after the Games?

Olympic Games, a motor for urban renewal

Conversation with Kees Christiaanse
Published in: NAi Publishers
Rotterdam, May 2008
Urban Language interviewed Kees Christiaanse on the about the usefulness of Olympic Games in the Netherlands. This conversation, along with several other interviews, is included in a collection, published by NAI Publishers and edited by Winy Maas.

How to build a good architecture school?

Urban Language interviewed Herman Hertzberger
Published in: Huig magazine
Amsterdam, February 2008
Conversation on the question "How to build a good architecture school?"

Tamed 'wild living'

Municipal management versus freedom of building
Published in: de Architect
Almere, June 2007
Over the coming years the municipality of Almere will make 30,000 sites available to private individuals so that they can build homes as they want to. A new balance has to be found between municipal management and this new freedom.

Urban pretentions of a smalltown

New plans for Ridderkerk Center
Published in: de Architect
Ridderkerk, March 2007
To create a new identity and to retain its inhabitants, smalltown Ridderkerk is tackling the restructuring of its districts and center step by step. The municipality now has to decide whether or not to maintain its village character.

City and Countryside

Physical planning and design in contemporary China
Published in: de Architect
Shanghai/Beijing, May 2006
The relation between the rural and urban economy have been changing ever since China became a World Trade Organization member in 2001. To overcome the dichotomy between city and countryside, farmers must find a way to join the world economy.

Rice with gravy

Holland Village in Shanghai
Published in: ArchiNed
Shanghai, 31 January 2005
Article on a 'Dutch' new town in Shanghai.




28 October 2015
TEDx talk in Caohejing High-Tec Park, Shanghai


Shenzhen, 7 December 2013
We where invited by Urbanus as panel-member in a discussion about the outside-in development tendency of Shenzhen, defined by Urbanus as 'implosive booming'. The talk amongst local residents, architects, critics, politicians and developers was hold in the context of an exhibit on Baishizhou Village Regeneration.

Lecture on the concept HOPSCA

Shanghai, 11 October 2013
We where invited by EPFL to give a critical reading on the concept 'HOPSCA' and to participate in a debate on contemporary urban developments in China.

Urban Interiors in contemporary China

Invited speaker at World Interiors Event
Amsterdam,7 September 2013
China's extreme rapid economic, and societal changes are perhaps best illustrated by the changing use of outdoor spaces, the 'urban interior'. Urbanization can be seen as a means to improve the general quality of life, but in China it has been official policy for more than a decade now to use urbanization as a main driver to stimulate the economic growth. Design and construction are money-driven activities here. How can a designer respond?

Lecturing in Italy

Milano/Pavia, May 2013
Invited by the University of Pavia and the Politecnico di Milano to give a series of lectures on contemporary urban developments in China.

Creating liveable cities in China

Lausanne, 23 October 2012
Debate led by Harry den Hartog at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. How to balance the seemingly uncontrolled development of China's cities? What are the new challenges and what is the position of architects and urban designers?

Utopia or Dystopia 乌托邦,反乌托邦?

Rotterdam, 3 November 2012
Urban Language spoke with Joep van Lieshout: Do we choose F1 or a Volkswagen Santana?

Awarded by Shanghai Culture Fund for reprint Shanghai New Towns

Shanghai, August 2012
We are proud to announce that the Shanghai Culture Fund awarded our book 'Shanghai New Towns - Searching for community and identity in a sprawling metropolis' with a grant for a reprint. This is the first time that a foreign book is awarded by this fund.

Study session on high-rise in Asia

Shanghai, 19 September 2012
Urban Language organized an office visit and discussion meeting about Gensler's "Shanghai Center" and several other projects, at the request of the Dutch Council on Tall Buildings.

Day trip for Stylos to Songjiang and Jiading

Shanghai, 18 July 2012
Urban Language arranged a day trip to Songjiang and Jiading for the Delft student association Stylos.

Debate in Rockbund Art Museum: Disappearing Rural Shanghai

Shanghai, 29 June 2012
Night @ RAM invited Dutch artist/architectural photographer Rubén Dario Kleimeer and Dutch critic on architecture and urban design Harry den Hartog, in a presentation and discussion on 'Disappearing Rural Shanghai' moderated by Professor Gu Zheng

Interviewed by South China Morning Post: 'A space in the crowd'

Hong Kong, 23 March 2012
Annie Gotterson interviewed us for an article in the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's leading quality newspaper.

Shanghai New Towns to see on the Shenzhen architecture biennial

Shenzhen, 8 December 2011 - 10 February 2012
During the fourth edition of the of the Shenzhen architecture biennial, our book Shanghai New Towns - Searching for community and identity was exposed as part of NAi's exhibition Housing with a Mission.

Lecture at the Sun Yat-sen University

Guangzhou, December 2012
Public lecture by Harry den Hartog on the changing public spaces in the new Chinese city.

Needed: Architecture with Chinese characteristics

Interviewed by Shanghai Daily
Shanghai, 25&26 October 2011
Two-piece interview with Harry den Hartog, by Ni Tao, for the regional newspaper Shanghai Daily.

Presentation by Urban Language in Wuhan

Wuhan, 27 October 2011
We were invited to give a presentation during an international conference on livable cities.

Sanghay ile Istanbul

September 11, 2011
Turkish-language review of our book Shanghai New Towns - Searching for community and identity in a sprawling metropolis in the professional journal Arredemento Magazine.

Beijing International Book Fair 2011

Beijing, 30 August - 5 September 2011
During this book fair, our book Shanghai New Towns - Searching for community and identity in a sprawling metropolis was exposed in the Dutch Pavilion, as part of the Best Dutch Book Designs 2010.

Shanghai New Towns rewarded by 'Best Dutch Book Designs 2010'

Amsterdam, 11 June to 17 July 2011
Our book Shanghai New Towns. Searching for community and identity in a sprawling metropolis is awarded with Best Dutch Book Designs 2010. The winning books are shown from 11 June to 17 July 2011 in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Book review by Time + Architecture magazine

Shanghai, May/June 2011
Chinese-language review of our book 'Shanghai New Towns'

Interviewed by Urban China magazine

Shanghai, June 2011
...on sprawling cities and the edge between urban and rural.


Ontwerpen aan China

Rotterdam, May 2011
Interviewed by Arjen Oosterman

Public lecture and debate in the Shanghai Study Center of the Hong Kong University

Shanghai, 7 March 2011
Presentation of the main findings of our recently published book "Shanghai New Towns - Searching for community and identity in a sprawling metropolis".

Exported to China

Shanghai, February 2011
'Shanghai New Towns. Searching for community and identity in a sprawling metropolis' is also available now in Chinese bookstores.

Book Launch and debate in Trouw Amsterdam / De Verdieping

Amsterdam, 30 November 2010
Presentation of our book Shanghai New Towns - Searching for community and identity in a sprawling metropolis followed by a debate.

Presentation in Tai Wu

Rotterdam, 20 September 2010
Presentation in Tai Wu for an association of architects on recent architectural developments in China.

Local wisdom and globalization

Shanghai, 20 July 2010
Urban Language was member of the jury during the CUMULUS Shanghai Conference 2010 at the College of Design & Innovation.

First copy Shanghai New Towns

Shanghai, 14 May 2010
Today a first (preliminary) copy of our book 'Shanghai New Towns - Searching for community and identity in a sprawling metropolis' was handed over to Sun Jiwei, the District Governor of Shanghai's Jiading district, during a conference organized in cooperation with INTI, in the VIP lounge of the Dutch Pavilion 'Happy Street' during the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

Presentation on urban developments in Shanghai

Delft, 28 November 2009
Presentation on the turbulent urban developments in Shanghai during the international conference 'The New Urban Question - Urbanism beyond Neo-Liberalism' that took place from November 26th to 28th, 2009 at Zuiderkerk in Amsterdam and Delft University of Technology (TU Delft).

Interviewed by the Chinese-language newsmagazine Modern Weekly

Shanghai, 3 October 2009
This well-read newsmagazine, which has a wide circulation, interviewed Harry den Hartog on the changing urban-rural relations in China.

Interviewed by Urban China magazine

Shanghai, March 2009
We were interviewed by Chinese-language Urban China magazine on 'the ideal city'.

Looking for green

The Hague (Nl.), 29 September 2008
Lecture on community gardens during the debate 'Greenspotting Haaglanden' in Stroom The Hague

Book launch Exurbia - Living outside the city

Amsterdam, 5 January 2007
Today a first copy of our book was handed over to Government Advisor on Landscape Dirk Sijmons in Architectura & Natura.