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Dr. R.L. (Rixt) Woudstra

Faculty of Humanities
Capaciteitsgroep Kunstgeschiedenis

Visiting address
  • Turfdraagsterpad 15
  • Room number: 2.16
Postal address
  • Postbus 94551
    1090 GN Amsterdam
  • Profile


    Rixt Woudstra is Assistant Professor of Architectural History at the University of Amsterdam and Co-Director of the Amsterdam Centre for Urban History. She is a historian of modern architecture, with a specific focus on the global circulation of architectural ideas, technologies, and building materials. Her research concentrates on the relationship between the built environment and European colonial expansion, particularly in different parts of Africa in the late nineteenth- and twentieth century. 

    Prior to coming to the UvA, she taught at New College of Humanities in London (now Northeastern University) and worked as a Leverhulme-funded postdoctoral research associate at Liverpool University. She completed her Ph.D. in History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2020. 

    She is currently working on her first book, titled Designing Stability: Modern Housing and Anti-Colonial Protest in ‘British’ Africa, 1945-1957, which explores the construction and design of large-scale British housing projects built across the African colonies during the last, violent decades of colonial rule. Another book written together with Iain Jackson, Ewan Harrison and Michele Tenzon, titled The United Africa Company: Mercantile Architecture and the West African City, will be published with Bloomsbury Press in 2024.  A recent article, co-authored with Hannah le Roux (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg), titled ' 'Build Your Own House': Betty Spence's Design Research in 1950s South Africa' was published in Architectural Theory Review

    Her research has been supported by fellowships and awards from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, Harvard University’s Center for European Studies, MIT's Aga Khan Program and the MIT Africa-Program. In May and June of 2023, she co-convened the 'Architecture Summer Series', a series of five lectures showcasing novel approaches in British architectural history at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London. 

  • Publications



    • Woudstra, R. L. (2018). Exhibiting Reform: MoMA and the Display of Public Housing (1932–1939). Architectural Histories, 6(1), 1-17.




    • Woudstra, R. L. (2019). Countering Independence: Architecture, Decolonization and the Design of Stability. In M. Yoon , & I. Chernyakova (Eds.), Architecture and Action (pp. 130-131). The MIT Press.



    • Woudstra, R. L. (2015). De Portugese Synagoge in Amsterdam. Bulletin (KNOB), 114(2), 125-126.


    • Woudstra, R. L. (2013). Mahnaz Shah, Le Corbusier's Venice Hospital Project: An Investigation into its Structural Formulation. London: Ashgate, 2013. xxv + 222pp. 133 figures. £65.00 hbk. Urban History, 42(1), 175-177.

    Prize / grant

    Journal editor

    Talk / presentation

    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (22-5-2023). 'Tropical Timber and the United Africa Company', Building West Africa: A View from the Unilever Archives .
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (17-5-2023). Respondent to Adedoyin Teriba's talk 'History Designing Architecture: Performance and Architecture in Africa & its Diaspora', Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art .
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (8-3-2023). Sapele and Samreboi: Building Company Towns in British West Africa, University of Liverpool, UK.
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (14-12-2022). "How to Build Your Own House": Betty Spence's Design-Research in 1950s South Africa, University of Liverpool, UK.
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (8-12-2022). Post-War Architecture in West Africa, Post-War Architecture in West Africa, London.
    • Woudstra, R. (invited speaker) (5-2022). Tropical Timber, Modern Interiors, and the United Africa Company in Twentieth Century Britain, Cornell University.
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (2022). Liquid Crystal Concrete: Postwar Colonialism, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art .
    • Woudstra, R. (invited speaker) (2022). Build Your Own House": Betty Spence's Design-Research in 1950s South Africa, ETH Zurich.
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (2021). Imperial Objects, Digital Scholarship Group & NULab Fall Welcome 2021.
    • Woudstra, R. (invited speaker) (2021). Architectural History and the Colonial Archive, The Oslo School of Architecture and Design .
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (11-2020). Architecture, Democracy and Decolonization, University of Toronto.
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (2020). 'Build Your Own House’: Betty Spence’s Design-Research in 1950s South Africa, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain and Institute of Historical Research Seminar, London.
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) & Le Roux, H. (speaker) (2020). 'Build Your Own House’: Betty Spence’s Design Research in 1950s South Africa, V International Congress Architecture and Gender, Lisbon .
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (2019). Inter-African Cooperation: Housing Design and Decolonization, Centring
      Africa: Postcolonial Perspectives on Architecture, Addis Ababa.
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (2019). Designing the 'Multi-Racial' City: Leonard Thornton-White’s 1948 Plan for Nairobi, Conflicted Narratives, Future Trajectories: Rewriting Critical Architectural and Urban Histories of Nationalism, Colonialism, and Modernity, Cambridge .
    • Woudstra, R. (invited speaker) (2018). Public Housing on Display: MoMA, U.S. Housing Authorities and the Debate about ‘Architectural Excellence, University of Bremen.
    • Woudstra, R. (invited speaker) (2018). ‘Culture Comes to Kampala’: Ernst May’s Designs for the African Postwar City, Vrije Universiteit.
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (2018). Minimum Standards: Housing ‘Nie-Blankes’ in South Africa, 1947-1952, Annual Conference Society of Architectural Historians, Saint Paul , Saint Paul .
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (2017). Building the Minimum House: The South African Building Research Institute and the Social Survey, 1947-1952, European Architectural History Network, Delft.
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (2017). Otto Koenigsberger and the United Nations’ ‘Housing Mission’ to the Gold Coast, 1954, Design and Displacement, Twenty-Sixth Cooper Hewitt/ Parsons Annual Graduate Student Design Symposium, New York .
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (2017). Minimal Standards: The South African Building Research Institute at the NE51/6 House, 1947-1952, Standard Architecture: From Jean-Nicolas Louis
      Durand to BIM, Frankfurt .
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (2016). Categorizing Architecture: Exhibiting Housing at MoMA, On the Role of Twentieth Century Exhibitions in Shaping Housing Discourses, Milan.
    • Woudstra, R. (invited speaker) (2015). Een Globale Architectuurgeschiedenis?, KNOB Studiemiddag , Amsterdam.
    • Woudstra, R. (speaker) (2014). The City of the Future: Le Corbusier and Addis Ababa, Fourth Conference of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies, Helsinki.


    • Woudstra, R. (organiser) & Chatterjee, S. (organiser) (17-5-2023 - 14-6-2023). Architecture Summer Series, London . Co-organiser, with Dr. Sria Chatterjee, of the Architecture Summer Series, a series of five talks and discussions held at the Paul Mellon Centre for (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Woudstra, R. (organiser) & Faciejew , M. (organiser) (14-3-2023). Transactional Spaces: Currency in the Imperial Built Environment (Panel Organised at the Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians). Recent scholarship on the relationship of architecture and capitalism has taken an affirmative turn to systems of extraction and circulation that (…) (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
    • Woudstra, R. (organiser), Rifkind, D. (organiser) & Strozek, P. (organiser) (2014). Imagining an Avant-Garde Utopia in Italian-occupied Ethiopia (Panel at Fourth Conference of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies), Helsinki (organising a conference, workshop, ...).


    • Woudstra, R. L. (2020). Planning the "Multiracial City" : architecture, decolonization and the design of stability in British Africa (1945-1957). [Thesis, fully internal, Massachusetts Institute of Technology].
    This list of publications is extracted from the UvA-Current Research Information System. Questions? Ask the library or the Pure staff of your faculty / institute. Log in to Pure to edit your publications. Log in to Personal Page Publication Selection tool to manage the visibility of your publications on this list.
  • Ancillary activities
    • Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie
      Lid Adviescommissie Architectuur