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Roemer van Toorn

Works at

Arkitekthögskolan, Östra Strandgatan 30c Umeå universitet, Arkitekthögskolan, SE-90187 Umeå

Roemer van Toorn is professor of Architectural Theory at the School of Architecture, Umeå University.

Dr. Ir. Roemer van Toorn’s research and education is broadly interdisciplinary, with architecture, urbanism, landscape architecture, at its core. As architect, and as expert in architectural theory and history he has a particular interest in architecture’s relation with emancipation, polity, migration, ecology, civil imagination, the environment, technology and its aesthetic regime. In other words, how architecture as cultural endeavor, through its own zone of competence can contribute to a fullfilling, enriching and liberative life for both the human and non-human; dares to create lives of sustained optimal well-being (justice) and joy for all, is the driving force of his own research.

His current research is about a becoming, an architecture of hospitality, one that breaks open the conventional way space is thought and used, one that displaces the binary dialectics of colonizer and colonized, the human against the non-human, the one against the other by introducing a third that belongs to both the one and the other, opening potential alternative and enjoyable horizons. Such a place of radical openness is about a margin; a profound edge, what has been called a “Thirdspace” where forms of emancipation can potentailly blossom. Locating oneself there is difficult yet necessary according to Van Toorn. Such a site of radical possibility, concerns a multiplicity of folds and gaps in the fabric of the common experience that change the cartography of the perceptible, the thinkable and the feasible. As such, it allows for new modes of political construction of common objects and new possibilities of collective and individual enunciation. Instead of slipping into paternalism or control, the idea of such a radical openness is characterized by indeterminacy, nuance, openness, and the multitude of encounters it could generate. It is concerned with a cosmopolitical outlook, one that reimagines civilisation anew, welcoming co-existence, otherness, nature, the city and the countryside.

In 2019 two research volumes, funded by the Swedish Research fund Formas, published by Actar Publishers (New York, Barcelona) were co-edited by Van Toorn on ”Rethinking the Social in Architecture: Making Effects,” and ”After Effects Theories and Methodologies in Architectural Research.” In the same year Van Toorn wrote and co-edited with Sangram Shirke "Celebrating Diversity, Radical Swedes. Towards a Cosmo-political Outlook." In 2022 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy for his PhD thesis “Making Architecture Politically. From Fresh Conservatism to Aesthetics as a Form of Politics,” from the Estonian Academy of the Arts, Tallinn. https://www.artun.ee/en/roemer-van-toorn-defended/. Recently he started a new research entitled “The Power of Gentleness in Architecture. The Aesthetics of Hospitality,” which received initial funding from the new research centre UmArts, of Umeå University. https://www.umarts.se/visionary_projects/the-power-of-gentleness/.

Together with rector Peter Kjaer, and professors Thomas Oloffson, Per Nilsson, Oren Lieberman, and Jüri Soolep he co-initiated and did run together with the scientific committee the PhD Research school at the newly established school of architecture at Umeå University with PhD students Sepedih Karami, Hannes Frykholm, Katja Hogenboom and Janek Ozmin. Furthermore he initiated and did run, among other programs, the public lecture series and roundtable conversations at UMA entitled "Relational Architecture," "Making Architecture Politically," and "Staging the Message." Together with the Swedish Research School in Architecture (ResArc) he organized the PhD Communication course for PhD students in Sweden "Staging the Message. The Architecture of Communication," https://communicationsresarc.net/.

Van Toorn is trained as an architect, and engineer at the TU Delft, The Netherlands. He was head of the history and theory program and of publications of the Berlage Institute, Postgraduate Laboratory of Architecture, Amsterdam, and co-founded the Berlage Institute PhD research school with the Delft School of Design (DSD) at the TU Delft, The Netherlands. Van Toorn taught at the Universität der Künste Berlin, St Lucas Brussels, and Ghent, while at the same time pursuing a career as an international lecturer, researcher, writer, curator, photographer, and regularly serving as an examiner and critic of architecture and urban design internationally.
His work as researcher, writer, curator and photographer has been widely published internationaly, while his photographic work has been exhibited in London, (Great Britain), Orleans (France), Winnepeg (Canada), Amsterdam, Rotterdam (Netherlands), and Los Angeles (USA).

Agonistic assemblies: on the spatial politics of horizontality, Berlin: Sternberg Press 2024 : 242-252
Bouman, Ole; De Carlo, Giancarlo; van Toorn, Roemer
Proceedings 11-12 / 2023: Part one: i COST action: writing urban places. new narratives of the european city. Part two: Innovation and digital reality: ideas, representations/applications and fabrication, Talllinn: Estonian Academy of Arts 2023 : 96-105
van Toorn, Roemer
Dissertationes Academiae Artium Estoniae, 37
Van Toorn, Roemer
Transformations 2022 in artistic research: Swedish Research council (Vetenskapsradet) symposium on artistic research in a time of change in cooperation with Luleå University, November 17-18, 2022, Luleå University; Swedish Research council 2022 : 24-25
van Toorn, Roemer
The Power of Gentleness Seminars, 1
van Toorn, Roemer
The Power of gentleness, 2
van Toorn, Roemer
UMA Works 20/21, Umeå: Umeå University 2021 : 40-41
Carless, Tonia; Barquero Campana, Esperanza; Conway, Richard; et al.
UMA Works 2020, Umeå: Umeå University 2020 : 32-33
Collevecchio, Carla; Conway, Richard; Van Toorn, Roemer; et al.
Tallinn Art University. Publications., 2020:10
Van Toorn, Roemer
OMA/Rem Koolhaas: A critical reader from 'Delirious New York' to 's,M,l,XL', Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag 2019 : 214-216
Bouman, Ole; Van Toorn, Roemer
Minerva (Madrid), Madrid: Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid 2019, (33) : 13-20
Van Toorn, Roemer
Radical Swedes*: Studio: Celebrating Diversity. Towards a Cosmo-Political Outlook, Umeå: Umeå University 2019 : 10-39
Van Toorn, Roemer; Shirke, Sangram
Umeå: Umeå University 2019
Van Toorn, Roemer; Shirke, Sangram
Architecture in effect: Vol. 1. Rethinking the social in architecture: Making effects, Barcelona, New York: ACTAR 2018 : 19-35
Gromark, Sten; Mack, Jennifer; Van Toorn, Roemer
New York: ACTAR 2018
Gromark, Sten; Mack, Jennifer; van Toorn, Roemer
Umeå: Umeå University 2018
Shirke, Sangram; Van Toorn, Roemer; Davallou, Aida; et al.
Architecture in effect: Vol 1. Rethinking the social in architecture: Making effects, New York, Barcelona: ACTAR 2018 : 424-460
Van Toorn, Roemer
Architecture in effect: Vol 1. Rethinking the social in architecture: Making effects, Barcelona, New York: ACTAR 2018 : 442-459
Van Toorn, Roemer
Flat Out, Chicago: Flat Out Inc. 2018, (3) : 34-43
Van Toorn, Roemer; Dean, Penelope
Stockholm: Strong Research Environment Architecture in Effect 2017
Van Toorn, Roemer
This thing called theory, New York, London: Routledge 2017 : 252-258
Van Toorn, Roemer
Reality bytes: Ausgewählte Schriften 1995-2015, Basel: Birkhäuser Verlag 2016 : 18-27
Van Toorn, Roemer
Umeå: 2016
Van Toorn, Roemer
Malmö: SLU university 2016
Van Toorn, Roemer
Rzut. Kwartalnik Architektoniiczny, Warszawa: www.kwartalnikrzut.pl 2016, (11) : 2-5
van Toorn, Roemer; Bouman, Ole
Luxembourg: 2015
Van Toorn, Roemer
“This Thing Called Theory T: Theory as a Form of Architectural Practice 19th – 21th of November 2015, Leeds Beckett University
Van Toorn, Roemer
Interspace: essays on the digital and the public, Tallinn: Architecture Centre of Estonia and Lugemik 2014 : 126-145
Jõekalda, Johanna
Making Knowledge Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, December 11-12, 2014
Van Toorn, Roemer
Rethinking the social in architecture: The Reader, Stockholm: Umeå School of Architecture 2013 : 163-165
Van Toorn, Roemer
Intravention, durations, effects: notes of expansive sites and relational architectures, Baunach: Spurbuch Verlag 2013 : 67-72
Van Toorn, Roemer
UMA lecture series and roundtable conversations
Van Toorn, Roemer
Tracés : bulletin technique de la Suisse romande, Verlag der Akademischen Technischen Vereine 2012, (10)
Van Toorn, Roemer
Society of the And
Van Toorn, Roemer
Open! key texts 2004/2012: art, culture & the public domain, Rotterdam: Nai010 publishers 2012 : 54-62
van Toorn, Roemer
The Berlage Survey of the Culture, Education, and Practice of Architecture and Urbanism
Van Toorn, Roemer
Rotterdam: 010 Publishers 2010
Van Toorn, Roemer
Manifold, Houston: Manifold Publishing Group 2010, (4) : 128-132
Van Toorn, Roemer
The specific and the singular: architecture in Flanders : 2008-2009 yearbook - 2010 edition, Antwerpen: Vlaams Architectuurinstituut 2010 : 119-126
Van Toorn, Roemer
The specific and the singular: architecture in Flanders : 2008-2009 yearbook - 2010 edition, Antwerpen: Vlaams Architectuurinstituut 2010 : 79-86
Van Toorn, Roemer

Research groups

Research projects

1 January 2022

Enclosed a list of educational programs. For more information on the contents of the different programs course students can go to Canvas to get detailed information. Of course Roemer van Toorn can also send you more detailed information on request.

"What is Architecture?" Architecture Theory (5AR134). First year Bachelor, UMA 1

"Comparative Critical Analysis," Architecture Theory (5AR138). First year Bachelor, UMA 1

"The idea and practice of Futurity. From critique to construction. Architecture and Utopia in the historical and contemporary city (1900 – 2023)." Architecture Theory (5AR201). Second year Bachelor, UMA 2.
"The status of humanity and its objects." Architecture Theory (5AR208). Second year Bachelor, UMA 2.
"Architecture urban complex system." Architecture Theory (5AR313). Third year Bachelor, UMA 3.
"Approaches of worldmaking and its manifestoes." Architecture Theory (5AR305), Third year Bachelor, UMA 3, 
"Master Thesis." Architecture Theory (5AR527), Final year Masters, UMA 5.
Architecture and the City. Towards Another Future (5AR017), (inter)national online course on architecture.

"Radical Swedes. Towards a cosmo-political outlook, Celebrating Diversity." Bachelar Studio second and thirs year, UMA 2 (5AR210 & 5AR211) & UMA 3 (5AR300 & 5AR314).

"Summer courses," UMA School of Architecture 2023. Examiner.
"Bachelor and Master Thesis 2010 – 2023 (5AR522)," Examiner.