Sanz Serif, a makeshift nickname earned as a result of my typographic likes, is the umbrella under which I present the diverse facets of my work: academic research on architecture and urbanism, design speculations, graphic design, curatorial and editorial work, and writings developed individually or collaborately, in institutional settings or independently.

Current focus: Workscapes.


International Conference. 20th Century New Towns: Archetypes and Uncertainties [Presentation]

Next May 23rd I will be presenting my research on Bata at the International Conference 20th Century New Towns: Archetypes and Uncertainties, organized by the School of Architecture of the Escola Superior Artistica do Porto.

More info here

Archetypes and Uncertainties

The planning and settlement of new towns were originated by different reasons. In twentieth century cities perhaps the largest reason was to determine new territorial and urban planning structures that would allow a better organization of the territory, ensuring the development of more efficient and balanced socio-economic models.

In some cases the construction of these cities was inspired by the principles of the nineteenth century English utopias, reflecting a strong concern in integrating the urban and natural components and highlighting the role of the natural landscape, understood as a city matrix on which articulates the urban structures.

In other cases the inspiration come from the rationalist ideals of the modern movement, seeking to personify the idealistic and democratic spirit of a new world order, producing rational and functional solutions and even if sometimes they do not fully overcome certain obstacles, an important contribution to the urban and architectural theory and practice advance was made.

Furthermore, other cases relate to the post-modernism and the emergence of critical views of the modern movement. These towns were born to give an answer to the problem posed by the large settlements deindustrialization and de-urbanization, assuming the role of organized urban extensions needed for controlling the sprawl of existing cities which was made through a process of unordered and peripheral urbanization.

Some focused mainly on a completely physical, economic and administrative independency in relation to major urban centres. Others, even if based partially on these principles of independence and geographical isolation, were planned as secondary structure networks dependent from a main urban conurbation. Many of these experiments have already been object of diversified studies addressing more or less specific thematic areas, seeking to define and apply critical and analytical methodologies to better understand and decode the processes and design criteria that were the basis of their urban and architectural morphologies.

Opting for an analytical prospective directed to re-contextualizing the urban and architectural contributions of these experiences, the conference 20th century new towns – archetypes and uncertainties aims to discuss their real effects in the present being especially welcome papers focusing on the following two aspects:

I. Archetypes | Spatiality, materiality and identities which persisted over time, not only because they have a high symbolism or because they are the emblematic testimony of a precise thinking about how to re-understand the city in a particular historical moment, but also and especially to continue maintaining the answering capacity to functional and practical demands of contemporary society. They are, in short, realities that did not required significant or radical changes to fulfil their function properly. The reasons for these archetypes remaining active and appropriate may contribute to recognize them as meaningful and timeless, distant from temporal gestures which respond only to contemporary needs.

II. Uncertainties | Parts or components of the urban system that remained incomplete, leading to realities that persisted “open” or that were completed through different intentions, appropriation processes or intervention criteria from those planned in their original design. The nature of these uncertainties could be a further indicator of the effects produced by these archetypes in the city development.

Additionally the conference will focus three main thematic/panels covering the post-war satellite towns (as the New Towns Programme and other European similar experiences), the modern cities (as Brasilia or Chandigarh) and a more local perspective embarking the Lusophone New Towns (mainly in Lusophone Africa, but also in Brazil). The conference peer-reviewed call for papers will cover these topics and the communications will be organized under the respective panels, not excluding the possibility of accepting other related topics if they reveal pertinent for the global aims of the conference.


MAN: Maps for the National Archeological Museum in Madrid [Mapping]


I had the chance of visiting in advance the recently renovated National Archeological Museum in Madrid, and taking a look on site at the +60 maps I designed for its exhibition rooms. Here there are some pictures. More images here.




"Founder of Harvard University’s Druker Prize: "Bata is an amazing story" "--Druker Prize presentation featured in Bata World News [presentation] 

Harvard University honored Victor M. Sanz's research on Bata company towns at a Druker Prize luncheon held at Gund Hall on October 31.

About 50 guests attended, including Sonja Bata, chairman of the Batawa Development Corporation; Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design; Ronald M. Druker, founder of the Druker Prize; and Tobias Ehrenbold, Swiss historian and Bata consultant.

Sanz received the Druker Traveling Fellowship in 2011 for an application entitled "Networked Utopia: A Global Survey of the Urban Legacy of the Bata Shoe Company's Satellite Cities." At the luncheon Sanz summarized the results of his travels to former Bata towns in Canada, the Czech Republic, France, the Netherlands, India, Poland, Slovakia and Switzerland. He described his approach as “a comparative work that has used field trips, photography, interviews, and archival material to reveal the urban and architectural typologies of each one of these Bata towns.”

Sanz’s presentation was well received by the audience. Druker, who founded the prize in 1986, enthused on the Bata subject, “This is an amazing story.”

Batawa, a town Bata established in 1939 in Canada, was a stop on Sanz’s travels. Since 2005 the Batawa Development Corporation has been cooperating with residents to transform the former Bata town into a sustainable, well-designed community. Mrs. Bata met Sanz on several occasions over the past two years and accepted the invitation to be present at the Harvard University luncheon. She was curious to see the results of Sanz’s project: “Victor did his research very cautiously. It was most interesting to see the old plans for the Bata towns in his presentation. Today, we try to follow the Bata ideal of a sustainable and well-designed community in Batawa.”

For his research Sanz was also in contact with Ehrenbold, author of a book on Bata’s history in Switzerland. Ehrenbold is currently working on the Bata Archives Project and also attended the luncheon. He pointed out the growing interest in Bata’s history: “It is no surprise to me that the world-leading Graduate School of Design at Harvard University is interested in the Bata history. Academics all over the world are starting to realize the pioneering status Bata has in 20th century corporate history. I’m sure that the company can benefit from this public interest in various ways."

See the original article here.


Druker Prize Presentation Luncheon: Networked Utopia: A Global Survey of the Urban Legacy of the Bata Shoe Company's Satellite Cities [Lecture]

From the Harvard Graduate School of Design website.

Thursday, October 31, 2013 
12:00pm - 02:00pm


Stubbins (Room 112), Gund Hall, 48 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA

Event Description

This event is no longer accepting RSVP's and is at capacity.

Presented by: Victor M. Sanz MAUD ’11
2011 Recipient of the Druker Prize

Following the spectacular growth of the Bata Shoe Company and the transformation of its home town, Zlín (Czech Republic) into a field of spatial and social experimentation, the enterprise began a strategy of decentralization and global expansion which lead to the replication of an urban and community model in a series of modern industrial towns founded between 1930 and 1945 around the globe.

‘Networked Utopia’ is an exhaustive survey of these towns and their postindustrial landscape: it is a comparative work that has used field trips, photography, interviews, and archival material to reveal the invariant and differentiating features in the urban form and architectural typologies of each one of these towns. The research has aimed to document the strategies of implementation of Bata’s urban vision to multiple contexts and geographies by constructing a comprehensive genealogy and evaluation of the urban legacy of this unparalleled undertaking. Furthermore, this project reflects on the need for re-imagining networked utopias and the role of design in achieving an integral and sustainable relationship between economy and urbanism.


PFC as case study for Research Project 'PHI Patrimonio Histórico + Cultural Iberoamericano' [Research]


My PFC (Graduation project) [2006] has been recovered as a case study for an international research group and network on Ibero-american cultural and historical heritage [PHI Patrimonio Histórico + Cultural Iberoamericano]

See the full case here or here

The PHI project, Latin-American Historic & Cultural Heritage, presents the development of an innovative global information system, based on the capabilities of the university world, permanently updated. A useful system, open and segmented according to the different foreseeable demands on the characteristics and the state of the built properties identified as heritage.

Its aim is to create a platform that serves to better understand the strategic value of Heritage and that allows for a more efficient management of this common legacy to activate its ability of planning the inhabited space.


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