Architecture Cultures

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Architecture Cultures

Research Cluster

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wooden building blocks showing spacial configurations

Spatial modelling of The Courtauld’s premises in Somerset House, 2014. Photo: Witherford Watson Mann

This cluster includes a vibrant scholarly community working on architecture and its visual culture, understood in its broadest sense. Our range of research interests spans vast periods and geographies. From modern and contemporary architecture and design to the gardens and landscapes of the Qing court; from urban development and architecture in Renaissance Rome to early modern Isfahan and Paris; from medieval Jewish, Christian and Islamic Toledo to the architecture of seventeenth-century London; from Byzantine and Georgian churches to the architecture of the British empire. We recognise the distinctive nature of architecture cultures, but see these as part of visual and material culture more broadly. Our intersecting areas of enquiry in architecture, urban experience and landscape are both global and local, and concern issues of design, ornament, sense perception, patronage, empire, postcoloniality, transmission, materiality, building technologies, digital modelling, restoration and historiography, among others.

Muqarnas dome from the tomb-shrine of ‘Abd al-Samad, d. 1299, Natanz (Iran). Photo: Sussan Babaie

The Courtauld has a long history of teaching and research in architectural history, and with a lively community of visiting scholars and students at every level it now has one of the largest concentrations of historians of urbanism, interior design, ephemera and architectural theory and practice in the world. We also enjoy scholarly connections with major local collections and institutions, including the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Warburg Institute, Sir John Soane’s Museum, the Royal Academy, and a number of architectural practices. We also benefit from access to the Conway Library (a vast photographic archive of architecture, sculpture and design) and The Courtauld Gallery’s important collection of architectural drawings.

Convenors: Dr Tom Nickson, Dr Sussan Babaie

copperplate engraving of a landscape

Matteo Ripa (attr.), “Morning Mist by the Western Ridge,” 1713, from Kangxi et al., Imperial Poems, scene 11. Copperplate engraving. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.

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