Photo of Professor Iain Jackson

Professor Iain Jackson B.A BArch PhD ARB FHEA

Professor Architecture


"Tropical Architecture" and British Architects Abroad

George Padmore Library in Accra
George Padmore Library in Accra

My research interests are concerned with the history of architecture in colonial/postcolonial nations, especially in India and West Africa. I've also conducted some research into British architects working in the West Indies, Iraq, and Kuwait.
I'm interested in how nations and states use architecture to express ideas, how architects and planners respond to political ambitions, and how the transition from the colonial to the post-colonial impacts the type of buildings being created/used/deployed.
I've very much enjoyed researching to lives and work of Edwin Maxwell Fry and Jane B Drew, and their fascinating story from the UK, to West Africa and India (working in both colonial and post-colonial settings). In addition to Fry and Drew, I've researched the work of Wilson Mason (operating in the Middle East), Robert Gardner-Medwin (working in the West Indies), and I'm about to embark on a study of James Cubitt (working in Ghana, and Libya). Most of the architects had some connection to the Liverpool School of Architecture and Professor Charles Herbert Reilly.
I'm researching the architecture of Ghana from 1880-1960, with a particular focus on the cities of Accra, Takoradi-Sekondi, and Kumasi. This research has been funded by the British Academy, and it has been a privilege to collaborate with colleagues at the Manchester School of Architecture, KNUST, University of Ghana.

We've also been working on the history of the United Africa Company across Western Africa, in collaboration with Unilever Archives.

This research has resulted in the formation of a Transnational Architecture Group, based at the School of Architecture.

Please see Transnational Architecture Groupfor regular updates and for our latest animation on the artist Erhabor Emokpae have a look here

Visionary Environments and Nek Chand's Rock Garden

Nek Chand's Rock Garden
Nek Chand's Rock Garden

My PhD research investigated and documented the work of Nek Chand, a self taught artist and architect working in Chandigarh. As a result of this work I also have an interest in 'outsider art', 'visionary environments' as well as follies and landscapes/topography.

After a short break from this work, I'm delighted that my drawings and photographs of Nek Chand's Rock Garden are to be exhibited at the John Michael Kohler Arts Centre .

Nek Chand's Rock Garden in Chandigarh, India, is an extraordinary collection of sculpture, landscape and building. Spread over 17 acres it contains over 3,000 sculptures as well as waterfalls, castles, chattris, and peculiar concrete formations.
Together with students from the Liverpool School of Architecture I surveyed the garden and catalogued the sculptures. We were able to live within the Rock Garden (in a secret apartment hidden behind one of the waterfalls) whilst conducting this research.
We exhibited some of this work in Liverpool and together with Soumyen Bandyopadhyay write a monograph on the Garden.

It was such a pleasure to meet Nek Chand, and I'm indebted to his generosity in allowing me to live amongst, and study his life's work.

Herbert J. Rowse and Your PhD Research?

Martins Bank by H. J. Rowse
Martins Bank by H. J. Rowse

I'm currently interested in receiving applications for PhD or MPhil studies in the following research areas:
-Indian Architecture, post-colonial architecture
-Ghanaian and West African Architecture and Planning
-The Architecture of the Middle East, and The Architecture of Oil
-Modernism within India and the Indian subcontinent
-British Modernist Architects [especially those working in the 'tropics'/overseas]
-Overseas architects who trained in the UK
-Outsider Art / Visionary environments
-Follies and Garden Buildings
-Issues of Identity, territory and alienation within the built environment

Previous PhD students have investigated the following:
-The design and planning of Model Town, Lahore
-The Public Works Department of Colonial Nigeria
-The River Hooghly and its influence on the growth and development of Calcutta

Together with Peter Richmond and Simon Pepper, I've written the first monograph to be published on architect Herbert J. Rowse. The extraordinary architect responsible for the Philharmonic Hall, India Buildings, Martins Bank, Mersey Tunnel Entrances, and an array of other works including the Woodchurch Housing Estate, Wirral.
If you'd like to pursue research on Liverpool's architecture, or the inter-war architecture scene of Britain, please do get in touch and I'd be delighted to discuss this with you.

Research Grants

AHRC IAA 22-25


April 2022 - December 2025

Architectures of Disaster Reconstruction in Mauritius, 1945-82


October 2022 - September 2025

Afterlives of colonial incarceration: African prisons architecture and politics


October 2022 - September 2025

The Architecture of The United Africa Company: Building Mercantile West Africa


June 2021 - July 2024

Virtual Sandpits, 'What is a good city?'


April 2021 - March 2022

The Hugli River of Cultures Pilot Project, from Bandel to Barrackpore


February 2018 - January 2020

Architecture and Planning in the Tropics: From Imperial Gold Coast to Tropical Ghana


November 2015 - December 2018

Envisioning the Indian City: Spaces of Encounter (ETIC)


March 2013 - February 2016

Investigating the Architecture of Edwin Maxwell Fry & Jane Drew


November 2011 - November 2013

Research Collaborations

Dr Peter Richmond

Project: The architecture of James Lomax-Simpson

We're working on a biography of Lord Lever's architect, James Lomax-Simpson

Claire Tunstall

Project: Architecture of the United Africa Company
External: Unilever

Leverhulme Trust funded project to investigate the architecture of the United Africa Company in West Africa.

Claire Tunstall, Helen Unsworth, Pete Bailey

Project: Erhabor Emokpae: A carved timber screen in the UAC collection
External: Unilever, Stone and Glow

We conducted a research project into the art, life, and works of Erhabor Emokpae and one of his vast timber carved screens produced for the Unilever headquarters in 1979.
As part of the project we wrote a short biography on Emokpae, produced a measured drawing of his carving, and developed an animation based on the work.

Paul Robinson

Project: The Architecture of Freetown and Environs

Developing a gazetteer of on the Architecture of Freetown, Sierra Leone

Ewan Harrison, Michele Tenzon, Rixt Woudstra

Project: The Architecture of the United Africa Company

Leverhulme Trust two-year project to research the architecture of the United Africa Company in West Africa.

Roberto Fabbri

Project: Impatient Cities of the Gulf: Post-oil Architecture in Flux
External: Zayed University, United Arab EmiratesAbu

Editing a special edition of Histories of Postwar Architecture Journal

Clara Kim

External: TATE Modern

Tate Modern’s Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational and the University of Liverpool’s School of Architecture are pleased to announce Crucibles, Vectors, Catalysts: Envisioning the Modern City. This online event will include three sessions which will bring together scholars, researchers and curators to explore the architectural production in the blurred era of independence to the post-colonial period of the mid-20th century, focussing on cities in Africa, Middle East and South Asia.

Juliette Desplat

Project: 'Development in Postcolonial West Africa: Building the Nation'
External: The National Archives, Kew.

AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership award to utilise the National Archives collection on West Africa

Peter Richmond, Simon Pepper

Project: The Architecture of Herbert J Rowse

Following funding from the RIBA we wrote a short monograph on the architecture of Herbert J Rowse. The book was published as part of the 20th Century Society and Historic England series.

Amy Chaloupka

Project: The World in a Garden: Nek Chand
External: John Michael Kohler Arts Center

Exhibition design and responder: this exhibition presented the important connection between the terrain of the garden and the rich variety and multiplicity of the sculptures therein.

Dr Irene Appeaning Addo, Dr Dan Nukpezah, Dr Haniyeh Mohammadpourkarbasi, Prof. Rexford Assasie Oppong

Project: Keeping Your Cool: Climatic Comfort and Tropical Modernism in Ghana
External: University of Ghana and KNUST

We are investigating how well tropical modernist buildings mitigate against heat and humidity in Ghana. Looking initially at two large University library buildings we are measuring how the buildings perform, as well as surveying the comfort levels of the library visitors and employees.

Nandini Das, Ian Magedera

Project: Envisioning the Indian City

Research project in collaboration with Jadavpur University, Kolkata to investigate the foreign perceptions and experiences of four Indian cities.