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Department of Architecture



Maximilian Sternberg received his PhD in the History and Philosophy of Architecture in 2007 at the Department of Architecture in Cambridge University. Following post-doctoral scholarships in Paris and Rome, he returned to Cambridge as a Research Associate of the ESRC-funded project ‘Conflict in Cities and the Contested State’. He was appointed university lecturer at the Department of Architecture in Cambridge in 2009. Sternberg is a fellow of Pembroke College and deputy director of the Centre of Urban Conflicts Research.


Max Sternberg is part of the history and theory of architecture team. Currently he is exploring appropriations of the past in modern architecture, and specifically images of the Middle Ages in Modernism. Related to this, he is studying how modern architecture imagines the sacred. He is also pursuing a collaborative project on Alvar Aalto’s post-war church designs in Germany. Earlier research has focused on the social meanings of architecture in the Middle Ages, and the interplay of religious reform, monastic architecture and the urban environment.

Max’s work in the field of urban studies, as the Deputy Director of the Centre for Urban Conflicts Research, has covered Israel-Palestine, North Africa, and the borderlands of the EU, including Polish-German border towns and Ceuta. Here he has investigated, more specifically, how urban change, politics and heritage practices interact.


Current PhD students


Theodora Bowering (started 2015) ‘Ageing and the City’ (Gates scholarship).

Michael Huss (started in 2017) ‘Walking as an Aesthetic form of Political Resistance in post-colonial Landscapes’ (ESRC scholarship)

Toby Parsloe (started in 2017) ‘The Urban Camp: the role of the city in the Berlin-Tempelhof refugee camp’ (AHRC scholarship)

Ekaterina Mizrokhi (started in 2018) ‘Urban transformations in Moscow’ (Cambridge International Scholarship)

Mohamed Derbal (started in 2020) ‘Space,Time and Community: German architectural discourse and the search for national unity, 1890-1914’ (Wolfson Scholarship)


Jessie Fyfe (started in 2015) ‘Unsettled Landscapes: The Narrative and Material Capacities of Landscape in the Post-War Croatian Hinterlands’ (Newnham College Scholarship).

Sofia Singler (started in 2016) ‘Building Alvar Aalto’s Church of the Three Crosses, 1955–58’ (Gates Scholarship).


Key publications: 


Cistercian Architecture and Medieval Society (Leiden: Brill, 2013).

The Struggle for Jerusalem’s Holy Places (London: Routledge, 2013), co-authored with W. Pullan, C. Larkin, L. Kyriacou and M. Dumper.

Edited books

Modern Architecture and the Sacred (London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020); co-edited with R. Anderson.

Phenomenologies of the City: Studies in the History and Philosophy of Architecture (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), co edited with H. Steiner.

Journal articles

‘Modern Stagings of the Medieval at the Schnütgen Museum in Cologne (1910-1939).’ The Art Bulletin (forthcoming, March 2020). DOI 10.1080/00043079.2019.1638676.

‘The Civic and the Sacred: Alvar Aalto’s Churches and Parish Centres in Wolfsburg (1960–68).’ Architectural History 42 (2019): 205-36; co-authored with Sofia Singler. 

‘Unsettled Landscapes: Traumatic Memory in a Croatian Hinterland.’ Space and Polity (forthcoming) DOI 10.1080/13562576.2019.1695113; co-authored with Jessie Fyfe.

‘Transnational urban heritage? Constructing shared places in Polish-German border towns.’ City: Analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action (2017): 1-22

‘Arrested Conflict: Transnational place-making in Polish-German border towns.’ Space and Polity, vol. 20, no.3 (2016): 263-79; co-authored with Karol Kurnicki.

‘Monastic Paradigms in Modernism: Le Thoronet and the Romantic Legacy.’ Journal of Architecture, vol. 17, no.6 (2012): 925-49.

‘The Making of Jerusalem’s Holy Basin.’ Planning Perspectives: An International Journal of History, Planning and the Environment, vol. 27, no. 2 (2012): 219-42. co-authored with W. Pullan

Book chapters

‘Cistercian Architecture.’ In Oxford Bibliographies in Medieval Studies. Ed. Paul E. Szarmach. New York: Oxford University Press (2018)

 ‘Vorreiter der Moderne? Rezeptionen der Zisterzienserbaukunst im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert.’ In Norbert Nußbaum, Georg Mölich und Harald Wolter von dem Knesebeck (eds.), Die Zisterzienser im Mittelalter (Vienna and Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, forthcoming 2017) ISBN 978-3-412-50718-3. 

‘Medieval Moderns? Cistercians and the City’. In H. Steiner & M. Sternberg (eds.), Phenomenologies of the City: Studies in the History and Philosophy of Architecture. (Farnham: Ashgate 2015): pp. 49-66.

‘Borderlands of the EU: The Spanish Enclave of Ceuta in Morocco.’ In W. Pullan & B. Baillie (eds.), Locating Urban Conflicts: Ethnicity, Nationalism and the Everyday (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013): 57-75. co-authored with F. Hernández. 

‘Designing the Biblical Present: Jerusalem’s “City of David”.’ In A. Webber, U. Staiger & H. Steiner (eds.) Memory Culture and the Contemporary City: Building Sites. (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 106-25 [published under the name of Gwiazda]. co-authored with W. Pullan.

Associate Professor
Deputy Head (Teaching)
Director of Graduate Studies
Fellow of Pembroke College
Director of Studies for Architecture in Pembroke and St Catharine's Colleges
Dr. Maximilian  Sternberg