Rixt Woudstra

Rixt Woudstra is a PhD candidate in the History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture program in the Department of Architecture at MIT and a 2018-2019 Dissertation Fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University. Her research explores the history of modern architecture and planning, with a specific interest in the circulation of architectural and urban knowledge between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa during the twentieth century. Her research focuses on the intersections between architecture, colonialism, and decolonization. Her dissertation, titled “Countering Independence: Architecture, Decolonization, and the Design of Stability in British Africa (1945-1968)” examines how British architects, planners, and anthropologists radically transformed cities such as Kampala and Nairobi during the postwar period through the design of large-scale housing estates for African laborers. During a moment of great political instability, housing offered an instrument to counter—or postpone—the looming prospect of independence.

She is the recipient of the International Dissertation Research Fellowship of the Social Science Research Council and a Junior Fellowship from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London. In 2018, her dissertation research received a Citation of Special Recognition for the Carter Manny Award from the Graham Foundation. Her research has also been generously sponsored by the MIT Presidential Fellowship, the MIT Hyzen Travel Fellowship, the MIT-Africa Initiative, and the MIT International Studies Summer Study Grant. She has presented her work at various conferences, such as the Society of Architectural Historians, the Parsons/Cooper Hewitt Symposium, and the European Architectural History Network. She is currently a contributor to the Systems and the South: Architecture in Development project of the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative, and will participate in the CCA Mellon Seminar “Centring Africa: Postcolonial Perspectives on Architecture.” She has published her work in journals such as Architectural Histories and Thresholds.

She received a BA and MA in art and architectural history from the University of Amsterdam (cum laude). Prior to coming to MIT, she worked for Studio Lukas Feireiss in Berlin and the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam on publications and exhibitions. She contributed to OfficeUS, the American pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennial in 2014.