Photo of Suzanne  Harris-Brandts

Suzanne Harris-Brandts

Assistant Professor - Contemporary Politics of the Built Environment and City Building

Degrees:HBAS (Waterloo), M. Arch (Waterloo), Ph.D. (MIT)

Faculty Appointment

School of Architecture and Urbanism

Faculty Affiliation

Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies

Suzanne Harris-Brandts is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at Carleton University and founding partner of Collective Domain, a practice for spatial analysis, urban activism, architecture, and media in the public interest. She teaches in the graduate and undergraduate programs, including graduate thesis supervising. Her research brings together design and the social sciences to explore issues of power, equity, and collective identity in the built environment. Harris-Brandts’s current book project, entitled Constructing the Capital, draws from her dissertation uncovering the politics of urban development and image-making in Eurasian capital cities. It foregrounds city building campaigns in “hybrid regimes” (part-democratic/ part-authoritarian), demonstrating how architecture and urban design are manipulated for power, also highlighting bottom-up, community-based strategies to resist such actions.

Research Interests

  • contemporary South Caucasus and Balkans
  • iconic city building, including mega-projects, mega-events, and incentivized urbanism
  • politics of urban development and image-making, particularly in capital cities
  • contested place meanings and reflections of identity in the built environment
  • design’s relationship to conflict-induced displacement
  • design and designer socio-political agency


Honours and Awards

2019 The Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation of Georgia, State Research Grant

2019 Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), Dissertation Grant

2019 SSHRC Doctoral Award

2018 Open Society Foundation Georgia, Collective Initiative Grant

2017 Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Grants to Individuals

2015 MIT Presidential Fellowship

2013 Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) Student Medal


Select Publications

Harris-Brandts, S. (forthcoming). The ‘White Palace’ Party Headquarters: Architecture, Urban Design, and Power in North Macedonia. In Koch, N. (Ed.) Spatializing Authoritarianism. 1-26. Syracuse University Press.

Harris-Brandts, S., & Sichinava, D. (forthcoming). The Politics of Urban Recovery in a Soviet-era Resort Town: Heritage Tourism and Displaced Communities in Tskaltubo, Georgia. In Al-Harithy, H. (Ed.), Urban Recovery at the Intersection of Displacement and Reconstruction. London: Routledge.

Gogishvili, D., & Harris-Brandts, S. (forthcoming). The Urban Impacts of Second-tier Mega-Events in the Global East: The European Youth Olympic Festival in the South Caucasus. In Bignami, F., & Cuppini, N. (Eds.) Mega-Events, Urban Transformations and Social Citizenship: A Multi-Disciplinary Analysis for Epistemological Foresight. 1-26. London: Routledge.

Harris-Brandts, S., & Polese, A. (2020). Urbanization and Rural-Urban Dynamics in Central Asia. In De Cordier, B.,Fauve, A. & Van den Bosch, J. (Eds.), European Handbook of Central Asian Studies: History, Politics and Societies. EISCAS.

Harris-Brandts, S., & Gogishvili, D. (2020). Lofty Ideals in Aerial Connectivity: Ideology in the Urban Cable Car Network of Tbilisi, Georgia. Eurasian Geography & Economics, Taylor & Francis, 1-18. 

Harris-Brandts, S. (2020). [Book Review] Iconic Planned Communities and the Challenge of Change. Corbin Sies, M., Gournay, I, and Freestone, R. (Eds.). University of Pennsylvania Press. Journal of Historical Geography.

Gogishvili, D., & Harris-Brandts, S. (2019). Coinciding Practices of Exception in Urban Development: Sports Events and Special Economic Zones. European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis.

Gogishvili, D., & Harris-Brandts, S. (2019). The Social and Spatial Insularity of Internally Displaced Persons: “Neighbourhood Effects” in Georgia’s Collective Centres. Caucasus Survey, 7(2), Taylor & Francis, 134-156.

Harris-Brandts, S. (2019). Revisiting State Spectacle Through the New Capitals of Asia [Author-Critic Forum for: The Geopolitics of Spectacle: Space, Synecdoche, and the New Capitals of Asia by N. Koch]. Central Asian Affairs. Vol. 6, No. 6.4.

Harris-Brandts, S., & Gogishvili, D. (2018). Architectural Rumors: Unrealized Megaprojects in Baku, Azerbaijan and their Politico-Economic Uses. Eurasian Geography & Economics, 59 (1), Taylor & Francis, 73-97.

Harris-Brandts, S. (2018). The Role of Architecture in the Republic of Georgia’s European Aspirations. Nationalities Papers. 46 (6), Taylor & Francis, 1118-1135.

Harris-Brandts, S. (2018). “Could UNESCO World Heritage Status Help Refugee Camps? How to handle ‘refugee heritage’ from an architectural perspective.” Frieze, November/December 2018, Special Issue on Decolonizing Culture.

Harris-Brandts, S., & Gogishvili, D. (2018). Up in the Air: Traces of Aerial Connectivity in Tbilisi. In Neuburg, K., Pranz,, S., Tseretelli, W., et al. (eds.), Archive of Transition. Niggli Verlag Publishers. Salenstein, Switzerland.

Harris-Brandts, S., Wheeler, A. & Shioshvili, V. (2018). Wooden Mosques: Islamic Architectural Heritage in Adjara, Georgia. Tbilisi, Georgia: National Research Centre for Georgian Art History & Heritage Preservation.

Harris-Brandts, S. (2017). Georgia and the South Caucasus. In S. Piesik (Ed.), HABITAT: Vernacular Architecture for a Changing Planet. London, UK: Thames & Hudson.

Harris-Brandts, S. (2016). Decentralize, Desecularize, and Deregulate! The transformation of Kutaisi, Georgia. In MONU Journal, 25 Independent Urbanism, 86-91. Bruil & van de Staaij.

Harris-Brandts, S. (2018). Building Vacancies: Tourism and Empty Real Estate in Batumi. Urbanistica Tre Journal, 15, Special Issue: Cities of the South Caucasus. Roma Tre Press, 45-56.