The Architectural and Urban History Group

St Georges Hall

The Liverpool School of Architecture has long been a centre of historical research, with a lineage stretching back to Colin Rowe and others. A particular feature of the work of the Architectural and Urban History Group today is the emphasis on empirical research, making extensive use of archives and other primary published and unpublished sources. The majority of the Group’s work is focused on the twentieth century, whether that be the history of architecture, of cities or of theory. It is largely, but not exclusively in these areas that we encourage and welcome PhD applications.

The Liverpool School of Architecture has an outstanding record for the quality of its research. The recent REF 2014, which assessed the research produced by all the UK’s universities, placed us top of all the schools of architecture for the quality of research output, with a GPA of 3.19. In this nationwide assessment of the quality of University research, 40% of our output was given the highest ranking of 4* (world leading) with a further 40% at 3* (internationally excellent), putting us at the head of the table.

Current and recent research topics developed in the School range from Britain and America to West Africa, India, China and Japan, from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, and from Brutalism to the architecture of popular music performance. Prestigious research awards to support this work have been won from among others the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Getty Conservation and Research Institutes, the UK and India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI), the Graham Foundation, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the RIBA Research Trust. Current research projects range from Camden’s post-war housing to the architecture of Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, the drawings of Denys Lasdun, and the archive of the California architect Pierre Koenig. Outputs include books (both sole-authored and edited) and book chapters as well as articles in the leading international peer-reviewed journals. Recent and imminent titles include Mark Swenarton’s edited book on Architecture and the Welfare State (Abingdon: Routledge, 2015); Neil Jackson’s essay, 'Case Study House 21: The (Re)making of a Collector’s Item' (Getty Research Journal, 7, 2015); Barnabas Calder’s paean to British Brutalism, Raw Concrete (London: William Heinemann, 2015); and Christina Malathouni’s 'Preston Bus Station: Architectural History, Politics and Democracy in a Post-World War II Designation Saga (Fabrications: JSAHANZ, 28:2, 2018).

Central to the School’s ethos is the belief that research informs teaching and the wide range of research pursued in the School provides a rich body of knowledge from which both undergraduate and postgraduate students – especially PhD students — benefit. Recent PhD topics include the California modernist Richard Neutra, the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, the Architectural Association in the 1950s and 1960s, and Arab walled cities. Applications to pursue similar or, indeed, divergent research topics at the School are welcome.