The Architectural and Urban History Group
The broad range of academic research by the Liverpool School of Architecture’s Architectural and Urban History Group is reflected in the diversity of the PhD dissertations currently being supervised. Topics relating to the design process, especially the understanding and use of space and nature, are investigated in the context of twentieth-century architecture in Europe, Russia and the United States, as is the process of architectural education in Britain. There is a strong interest in the colonial and post-colonial architecture and urbanism of India, Nigeria and Malaysia, and the developing architecture and urbanism of the Middle East and the Levant. Yet not all the work being done is in the twentieth-century: current and recent research has focussed on the nineteenth and earlier centuries, both in Britain and abroad. Liverpool is well-placed and served for local historical studies and within easy reach of national archives and collections, and the international outlook and experience of the academic staff supports studies in all corners of the globe.
Professor Neil Jackson
PhD Title: Institutionalization of the Avant-Garde and the new modernist language: VKhUTEMAS training.
Supervisors: Marco Iuliano, Richard Koeck
Overview: This research will be looking at how the Avant-garde became institutionalized, forming the VKhUTEMAS, the revolutionary design institute that invented VKhUTEMAS training during the 1920s. It will include a strong emphasis on the new modernist language “space” and how the “space” methods can play a role in Architecture today.
Image: Exposition of the discipline "space” - a student group on the topic - the identification and expression of mass and weight. VKHUTEIN main compartment, 1927-1928.
Emma Dent Coad
PhD Title: Constructing Modern Spain: politics and architecture under Franco 1939-1975
Supervisors: Professor Neil Jackson, Dr Rosa Urbano Gutierrez
Overview: Typically histories of architecture view buildings from the architects' perspective, as if this was the sole determinant. While this may be true in periods of plenty, in the Spanish post-civil war years there are far greater influences on architectural output than the will of the creators. This research reviews the development of architectural movements and styles around Spain in their economic, political and social context.
PhD Title: Reinvestigation of the Evolution of House Form from the Perspective of ‘Quality of Life’ in Turkish Context
Supervisor: Fei Chen
Overview: This research proposes a generic analysis of the typological process of Turkish house forms by developing multiple measures of the Quality of Life. The aim is to empirically explore the changing relationships between the physical environment, the local culture and life style patterns within five different morphological phases at building, street and neighbourhood scales in order to monitor the Quality of Life during the typological transformation of house types.
Image: Different house typologies in a residential neighbourhood (1980s-90s) in Ankara, Turkey
PhD Title: Richard Seifert and Partners: Architecture for Profit During the Post-War Compromise
Supervisors: Iain Jackson, Barnabas Calder
Overview: Richard Seifert and Partners was Britain's largest 'commercial' architects practice in the post-war period. At its height it employed several hundred architects spread over offices in London, Manchester, Glasgow and Sydney, and it is reputed to have designed over a thousand buildings. The practice's concentration on developer led projects put it firmly at odds with the post-war consensus and its reception in the contemporary press was often frosty. Consequently, it is often omitted from critical histories of the period.
Image: The Alpha Tower (formerly the ATV Centre Tower), Paradise Circus, Birmingham (1969-73) by H George Marsh of Richard Seifert and Partners
PhD Title: Interpreting Everyday Life: The Social and Spatial (Re)Production of Urban Space in Contemporary Chinese Cities and Cinemas
Supervisors: Richard Koeck, Fei Chen
Overview: After interpreting the strong relations between urban space, people and everyday scenes in both real and reel cities, this thesis will spotlight people’s everyday lives, which are barely mentioned in the discussion of many architects and urban designers in China. The aim of this research is to analyse the social and spatial (re)production of everyday spaces in contemporary Chinese cities, especially in Hong Kong, with investigating the social construction, representation and understanding of these everyday practices and urban spaces in cinemas, in order to examine the social diversity and the transformation among Lefebvre’s the three-fold spaces. Furthermore, it explores the relation between ordinary people’s everyday lives and urbanism in China, as well as the mutual support between films and urban practical works. Through interdisciplinary investigations from photography, literatures, scripts, films and documents to landscape, architecture and urban spaces, the project tries to understand Chinese cities and people’s actions or tactics at the intersection of spatial production, sociological theories and cinema studies.
PhD Title: Onshore and Offshore Fortifications on the Atlantic and Channel Coasts of France
Supervisors: Iain Jackson, Simon Pepper
Overview: An investigation into the golden age of French military architecture during the reign of Louis XIV and the superb coastal fortifications of Sébastian le Prestre de Vauban. The research will explore their sites, architecture, artillery capabilities, engagements with naval forces and review their present role in the French national landscape.
Image: Fortifications by Sébastian le Prestre de Vauban at Saint-Vaast la Hougue
Waniffah Wan Ahmad Nizar
PhD Title: Little Streets and Hidden Routes: The Use of Small Alleys in Improving and Influencing the Pedestrian Walking Behaviour in Kuala Lumpur
Supervisors: Fei Chen, Iain Jackson
Overview:This research explores the possibility of utilizing back lanes and alleys as an element of urban form that could influence and improve the pedestrians’ flow in the city of Kuala Lumpur. It is a study on how this urban form can be used to its maximum potential in planning the city and neighbourhood.
Image: A back lane near Jalan Alor, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
PhD Title: Envisioning the Indian City - Blue Gold and Colonial Calcutta
Supervisor: Iain Jackson
Overview: This research is focused on how the river Ganges has been historically represented from a foreign perspective during the mid-18th to late-19th century. Using 'imperial representations' comprising text and visual sources, it will build a cultural history of the site.
Image: Gangasagar Mela (2014) This image is part of my research archive. It documents the annual spiritual pilgrimage to the Ganges. This is the second largest gathering of humans in the world on Sagar Island at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal, the former disembarkation point for colonial ships.
PhD Title: Public Space in Piecemeal Developed Villages in Southwest China
Supervisors: Fei Chen, Christina Malathouni
Overview: This research focuses on the public space in traditional villages in such region and explores both the built environment and the socio-cultural production of public space, in particular, village gathering spaces--plaza or square and streets. This includes an investigation into the form and evolution of such settlements, and a detailed analysis of interrelationship between public spaces and local traditions, activities, migration and other economic and social factors.
Image: Qiangfeng Village
PhD Title: Shahr-e Farang: A Media Archaeology of Images in the City
Supervisors: Richard Koeck, Marco Iuliano
Overview: This research focuses on the appearance of Shahr-e Farang in the early 20th century in Iran; a mobile entertaining device, allegedly emerged as a modified Iranian adaptation of cinematic devices from Europe. This doctoral thesis will gives insight on firstly, how this modified device differs technically and conceptually from the western predecessors such as Kinetoscope and Cinematograph; secondly, how it can be situated in the wide context of contemporary theories on image and cityscapes; and thirdly, how the Shahr-e Farang – from this newly formed perspective – might be seen itself as a predecessor of contemporary mobile image-base media practices, such as Instagram®.
Image: Shahr-e Farang(1958), Source: Old Tehran Photography by Mahmoud Pakzad (1941-1975)
Ibiyemi Omotayo Salami
PhD Title: Public Works Department Architecture in Nigeria, 1900 – 1960
Supervisors: Iain Jackson, Simon Pepper
Overview: This research explores the history of government buildings in Nigeria, within the context of works done by the Public Works Department’s architectural unit, as well as the emergence of the architectural profession. The study period begins in 1900, signifying the establishment of Public Works Department, and ends in 1960, the year of Independence.
Image: 1926 Public Works Department Bungalows and Houses for Nigeria’s Northern region by Thomas Scott