Nelson Mota

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment.

Delft, The Netherlands

Nelson Mota is Associate Professor of Architecture at the TU Delft. He graduated in Architecture and received his Master from the University of Coimbra. His PhD was awarded by the TU Delft with the dissertation “An Archaeology of the Ordinary: Rethinking the Architecture of Dwelling from CIAM to Siza”. His dissertation discusses the contribution of critical surveys on vernacular social and spatial practices to the reconceptualization of housing design from the 1950s until the 1980s. Nelson is the author of the book «A Arquitectura do Quotidiano» (The Architecture of the Everyday, e|d|arq) published in 2010, co-editor of “The ‘Bread & Butter’ of Architecture: Investigating Everyday Practices” published in 2015 (JapSam Books), co-editor of “Ideas and Practices for the European City” published in 2017 (e|d|arq), and co-editor of “Housing after the Neoliberal Turn”, published in 2019 (JapSam Books). He is production editor and member of the editorial board of the academic journal Footprint and the book series DASH – Delft Architectural Studies on Housing.


Main Research Activities:

Since 2013, Nelson has been researching with Master and PhD students the impact of vernacular social and spatial practices in design decision-making of affordable housing. This research is mainly focused on the global urban South, especially in India, Brazil, and Ethiopia. This research has been presented in important housing forums: the “Wohnungsfrage Academy: The Housing System” (Berlin, 2015), the «Urban Thinkers Campus» (Stockholm, 2015), the International Congress on Collective Sustainable Housing (São Paulo, 2016), and the “No-Cost Housing Conference” (Zurich, 2016). Nelson has also explored the topic of citizens’ participation, incremental housing and self-reliance in chaired sessions in major international conferences. The most recent cases were the session “Second Life: Modern Housing and the Aesthetics of Growth and Change”, 14th International Docomomo Conference, (Lisbon, 2016) co-chaired with Dirk van den Heuvel, and the session “Housing and the Grassroots. Rethinking Production and Agency in the Architecture of Dwelling”, 4th International Meeting EAHN (Dublin, 2016) co-chaired with Tom Avermaete. Nelson is currently one of the researchers in the NWO-Wotro Project “Addis Ababa Living Lab” (2019-2022) and Erasmus+ “PBL South Asia” (2019-2021).


Top Publications:
– Nelson Mota, 2020, “Álvaro Siza’s Negotiated Code: Meaningful Communication and Citizens’ Participation in the Urban Renewal of The Hague (Netherlands) in the 1980s”, Urban Planning 4-3, 250-264
– Nelson Mota, 2019, “From House to Home: Social Control and Emancipation in Portuguese Public Housing, 1926–76”, The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 78-2, 208-226
– Nelson Mota and Dick Van Gameren, 2018, “Dwelling with the Other Half: Architectural Education for the Design of Affordable Housing in the Global South”, Charrette 5-1, 33–49.
– Nelson Mota, 2017, “Dwelling in the Middle Landscape: Rethinking the Architecture of Rural Communities at CIAM 10” in Re-Humanizing Architecture: New Forms of Community, 1950-1970, Ákos Moravánszky and Judith Hopfengärtner, eds (Zürich: Birkhäuser), 311-324.
– Nelson Mota and Dick van Gameren, 2016, “Affordable housing and sustainable development: a tale of two systems”, in “World Architecture Festival 2016”, supplement of The Architectural Review (Issue 1430, April 2016)
– Nelson Mota, 2015, “SAAL, Sweat and Tears”, Volume 43: 82-91.
– Nelson Mota, 2015, “To Be Continued… Housing, Design and Self-Determination”, DASH – Delft Architectural Studies on Housing 12-13: 52-69.
– Nelson Mota, 2014, “A Progressive Attachment. Accommodating Growth and Change in Álvaro Siza’s Malagueira Neighbourhood.” in Consuming Architecture. On the occupation, appropriation and interpretation of buildings, Marcel Vellinga, Daniel Maudlin, eds (London: Routledge), 89-107.

Nelson Mota is part of the Experts Committee of the BAM’s Annual Ranking of International Master’s in Architecture. We invite you to learn more about his professional work by visiting the following links. 

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KTH Royal Institute of Technology. School of Architecture and the Built Environment. Stockholm, Sweden

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