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Transformative Teaching

Focus on Pedagogy 2022
The Thick Timeline as Method for Design-oriented Education
M. Moors et al.
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


In a time where students in design-oriented education are confronted with images and (digital) information in a fragmented and unstructured way, the need for tools to process this data in a coherent and structured way is prominent. Furthermore, to understand architecture as a cultural signifier, it is necessary to have sufficient knowledge of architectural history and a broad cultural background. However, it is noticed that students lack a certain maturity to interpret events, edifices, movements, … in all their completeness. Therefore, this article explores the method of the ‘thick timeline’: a tool to develop an interactive combination of various (chosen) topics expressed in the form of different (overlapping) timelines; shown simultaneously, separately or compared by choice. Next to the capacity of a timeline to generate an objective consistency and help a student to clearly classify information (orientation in time and space) in a graphic manner; the implemented interactivity (showing and hiding the specific timelines), stimulates the exploration of new connections between topics (e.g. political, cultural and social happenings). As this article is written in the light of an ongoing PhD research called ‘Belgian MoMo heritage on the radar, re-reading modernist housing estates’, the examined timeline is presented as a work in progress, open for feedback and substantive additions. The article firstly addresses the text ‘Radical Though’ by Vittoria Di Palma, in which the capacity of ‘history’ to form (critical) architectural thought is used as the base for our argument to design this timeline. Secondly, the development and usage of the ‘thick timeline’ method is explained through the lens of the PhD topic. In conclusion, we share our experiences of its first application in architectural education.


Marie Moors is doing a PhD entitled Belgian momo heritage on the radar, re-reading modernist housing estates in the research group TRACE of the Faculty of Architecture and Arts at Hasselt University (BE) (funded by the Flemish Research Institute, 1116421N). Her master project Citadel of Tides was awarded by several institutions such as the Young Talent Architecture Award by the Fundació Mies van der Rohe (finalist). Marie finished the first year of her internship at the – restoration and heritage-oriented – office TeamvanMeer! (BE). In 2022, she was elected as secretary of Docomomo Belgium.

Bie Plevoets is assistant professor in the research group TRACE of the Faculty of Architecture and Arts at Hasselt University (BE). As a postdoctoral fellow of the Flemish Research Institute, she works on a project ‘Reusing the Ruin: Building on the Fragmentary Fabric’. She is the author of the book ‘Adaptive Reuse of the Built Heritage: Concepts and Cases of an Emerging Discipline’ (with K. Van Cleempoel, Routledge, 2019).;

Koenraad Van Cleempoel is professor in art history in the research group TRACE of the Faculty of Architecture and Arts at Hasselt University (BE). He has a strong interest in the theory of adaptive reuse, more in particular: the notion of memory and ‘built-up meanings’ in the long life of heritage sites. Previously he was the holder of the PP Rubens chair at UCBerkeley. He is co-author with Bie Plevoets of ‘Adaptive Reuse of the Built Heritage: Concepts and Cases of an Emerging Discipline’ (Routledge, 2019).