Researcher in Focus: Dr Christina Malathouni
Posted on: 7 March 2022 by Nick Jones in 2022 Posts
Our featured researcher of the month is Dr Christina Malathouni, who is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture. Christina is an architect and architectural historian with extensive experience in the heritage sector, specialising in 20th-century architectural heritage.
Christina joined Liverpool having completed her PhD in Architectural History at The Bartlett, UCL, where she also completed her MSc in Advanced Architectural Studies and audited the MA in Architectural History.
For her postgraduate studies and doctoral research she received grants from The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, the UCL Graduate School, The Bartlett School of Architecture, the State Scholarships Foundation (Greece) and the A. S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation (Greece). Prior to her post-graduate studies, Christina qualified as an Architect in Greece, having graduated from the School of Architecture, National Technical University of Athens, and is registered with the Architects Registration Bureau (ARB, UK) and full member of the Technical Chamber of Greece (Registered Architect).
Christina's doctoral research fell within the broad field of "spatial thinking" investigations, with a particular focus on the complex cross-disciplinary origins and associations of the notion of "space", especially as an intermediary between the human subject and the external world. Her PhD thesis focused on the theoretical work of the American architect Claude Fayette Bragdon (1866-1946) and his particular interest in the “fourth dimension” of space, a concept linked to innovative mathematics, such as n-dimensional geometry, but also associations between mathematics and psychology, philosophical treatises such as Arthur Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation, as well as mystical ideas, especially Theosophy. Her thesis was nominated for the RIBA President’s Awards for Research 2011 (for Outstanding PhD Thesis).
She currently focuses on associations between health and the built environment. She is studying historical perspectives of 20th-century mental healthcare architecture, writing a book on Public Mental Health Facilities in Post-War England (1948-1973) (Routledge), a largely overlooked area of healthcare architecture that has become particularly topical in view of contemporary developments in the same field. She has already taken part in a European project on the history of post-war psychiatry funded by the German Research Foundation and French National Research Agency and has also been accepted as co-author of a major output of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship project Sensing Spaces of Healthcare – Rethinking the NHS Hospital (PI Dr Victoria Bates, University of Bristol, 2021-27). She is also collaborating on an inter-disciplinary project with Dr Jiangtao Du that aims to develop an experimental methodology for the re-assessment of historical mental healthcare buildings.
During her doctoral studies, Christina also worked as (Senior) Conservation Advisor for the Twentieth Century Society in London, England’s National Amenity Society focusing on post-1914 architecture. This professional experience led Christina to memberships of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC, UK), ICOMOS-UK, and ICOMOS’s International Scientific Committee on 20th Century (ICOMOS-ISC20C).
Through related heritage work that focused on the Brutalist Preston Bus Station and was joint winner of the Heritage Alliance Heroes Award 2014, Christina led one of the School of Architecture REF2021 Impact Case Studies on “Enhancing understanding of Brutalism and saving Preston Bus Station”. The case study has continued to grow following its submission, with the bus station winning the prestigious World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize in November 2021, a “prize [that] honors contemporary architects and preservationists whose work ensures sustainable futures for at-risk modern heritage”. The building also won a Civic Trust Award in 2022, including the Special Award for Reuse & Adaptation – “presented to a scheme that would otherwise be left to decay or be demolished to address present-day needs” She is currently also collaborating with ICOMOS-ISC20C and the Getty Conservation Institute (Los Angeles, USA) on the promotion of the Twentieth-Century Historic Thematic Framework, focusing on Theme 2 “Accelerated Scientific and Technological Development”, which also includes the particular area of “Health”.
Underlying the multiple directions in Christina’s work to date are certain strong undercurrents that connect its various components: primarily connections between the notion of “space” and psychological aspects of human nature, as well as a profound interest in the continuity across historical studies, contemporary design challenges, and the re-use of existing built structures.
Keywords: Researcher in Focus.