Anthony Sutcliffe Dissertation Award

The best dissertation in the field of planning history written in English and completed during the two years preceding the IPHS international conference. There is no restriction on topic, but submissions that most directly and innovatively address the internationalism of the modern planning movement, in line with much of Sutcliffe’s work, are especially welcome.

Doctoral dissertations completed during the two years before the IPHS international conference are eligible. Self-nominations or nominations from dissertation advisors/supervisors (on behalf of their students) are welcome.

The award recipient will receive free conference registration for the IPHS international conference, a $300US prize and a certificate.

All submissions must include:

  1. the dissertation in single file PDF format
  2. a brief biography of the student with full contact details
  3. the name of the main academic advisor/supervisor(s) also with contact details
  4. a letter of affirmation by the dissertation advisor (or other official university documentation) that the dissertation was completed and successfully passed/defended in the eligibility period.

Anthony Sutcliffe Dissertation Award Committee

  • Chair: Professor Karl Friedhelm Fischer, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and University of Kassel, Germany
  • Associate Prof Naoto Nakajima, University of Tokyo
  • Giorgio Piccinato, Roma Tre University

Nominations for the Anthony Sutcliffe Dissertation Award should be sent to the committee chair Professor Karl Friedhelm Fischer (e:

Awarded dissertations


Joint awardees

Divya Subramanian: ‘Global Townscape: The Rediscovery of Urban Life in the Late Twentieth Century’, (Columbia University, New York, 2021)

Gabriel Schwake: ‘The Privatisation of a National Project: The settlements along the Trans-Israel Highway since 1977’, (Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, 2020)

Both dissertations are brilliant in their own way – thoroughly researched from completely unknown archival sources and convincingly argued. While both are exceptionally well-written, Divya Subramanian’s thesis stands out for its literary quality.
The two dissertations can be considered, in a way, as complementary in their outlook. The first thesis unfolds a far-reaching global perspective of the origins and legacies of its study object, the Townscape movement between London, Kolkata, Glasgow and the London Docklands. By contrast, the second dissertation drills deep into the local case study of the Trans-Israel Highway and the individual settlements produced in 30 different localities along the route.
Gabriel Schwake’s analysis of the trajectory between state monopoly and a neoliberal planning approach that has culminated in the formation of market-dominating private cartels provides a fascinating element in the mosaic of neoliberalism as a global phenomenon. As a local implementation set within a powerful hegemonic geopolitical agenda since its inception, the Trans-Israel Highway project is exceptional in the manner it has been executed over several decades. Schwake’s dissertation is a unique case study contribution to planning history.
In quite a different way, Divya Subramanian’s thesis is an important contribution to planning history, in the sense that it sheds new light on the Townscape movement and its major protagonist, Gordon Cullen. It reveals that, as an alternative to the anti-urban modernist practice as epitomised by planners like Robert Moses, the movement was important yet underrated in many respects – not only in relation to the attention planning history has devoted to first-line protagonists such as Jane Jacobs.
The dissertation opens new windows upon what seemed to be a well-known story. While the literature on Townscape has largely focused on the visual language and formal influences of the approach as a design strategy with provincial character, the view from these windows reveal the wider political significance and the internationalism of the Townscape movement.
The thesis thus manages to present a trajectory that has its roots in the design tradition of the colonial picturesque and the debates on colonialism and post-colonialism (in India and elsewhere) and extends to the recent past in the application of an impoverished Townscape aesthetic in the parks and promenades of Canary Wharf, “bringing the movement’s imperial ties full circle.” A tour de force.


Chen, Yongming. From the Cold War Front Line to the Global City: Everyday Politics in Urbanization of Boat People’s Settlement, Xiamen, Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The research work that Yongming Chen has developed in his thesis is of great interest for several reasons. He summarizes the purpose of the thesis as looking “Through the lens of urbanization to understand Socialist China’s transformation: how institutions think”. The thesis incorporates a research methodology that connects the reality of urban development with the complexities of Chinese society, and reveals how spaces have been gradually produced and transformed over time. Starting from a specific example, the Xiamen Harbor, as a case study he develops a vision that begins with the fishing port and which, without losing sight of the political transformations in the region, evolves through the social transformations of China. The thesis describes how the population of a small fishing village is transformed into an urban population, showing how the urbanization process of a fishing settlement in Xiamen Harbor in different periods is articulated in parallel with changes that take place in the political organization. The Xiamen Harbor study reveals the multiple relationships between culture, economy and society. At the same time, the analysis and vision of contemporary China is enriching for the reader and helps them to better understand today’s China.


Muñoz, Victor Muñoz. (2016) Networked Utopia. Architecture and Urbanism in the Bata Shoe Company Sattellite Cities. Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain. (1stprize).

There are many reasons to highlight the great value of this work: first because of the way in which the thesis provides a fascinating transect of the history of universal, early modern and modern approaches to urbanism and their manifestation in the urbanistic conceptions of the Bata Shoe Company Satellite Cities, including their transformation right through to their ‘post-industrial existence; secondly, the way in which it traces the transformation of the classic models from Howard, Garnier, and Le Corbusier linking them to the emerging concepts associated with Fordism; and thirdly, the way in which it provides an original account of the different shape the developments took in different climates. Furthermore, and more importantly, because of the highly original way in which it traces Harvey’s and Scott’s notions of ‘universal’ or ‘high modernism’, as well as of ‘ideals, types, myths and models’, through the development history of almost a century of this bundle of case studies in different parts of the world and right through to the cutting-edge developments of the technologies of the 21st century. Among the additional reasons that make this work, the favourite is its design and graphic presentation. (From the committee’s report)

Crawford, Christina E. (2016) The Socialist Settlement Experiment: Soviet Urban Praxis. 1917-1932. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. (Runner-up prize).

This dissertation is a very detailed and deeply researched submission, opening up fields seldom explored by the academy so far. The focus on non-official Soviet planning and design experimentation is surprising and provocative, and the work on Ernst May and other actors of the time is magnificent. There is also an incredible work of compiling documents from archives in Azerbaijan, Canada, Russia, and the US, and a deep reflection on the role of architecture and city planning in the USSR. The number of new windows opened up is absolutely impressive. (From the committee’s report)


Gonick, Sophie (2015) At the Margins Of Europe: Homeownership, Inclusion, and Protest in Contemporary Madrid. University of California, Berkeley.


Ammon, Francesca Russello (2012) Culture of Clearance: Waging War on the Landscape in Post-war America. Yale University.