Symposium: Beyond 'By': Towards an inclusive architectural history

Jonathan Kewley's picture
June 3, 2017
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Historic Preservation, Research and Methodology

This is a reminder (with apologies for any cross-posting) about the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB) Symposium in London on Saturday 3rd June, ‘Beyond “By”: Towards an inclusive architectural history’.

There are still a few FREE PLACES available for anyone who is currently registered as a student or who finished their most recent degree less than five years ago. There is also a reduced rate for Early Career architectural historians.

Andrew Saint has argued persuasively that concentration on attributions of buildings to particular architects could be a hindrance to architectural history. But has ‘by’ been the main thing continuing to divide polite and vernacular? If it is rejected as the primary way of making sense of the built environment, where does this leave traditional architectural history? Have we been preoccupied by questions of the authorship of structures, and are there better and more valid ways of making sense of the built environment? Is the way forward the notion of how a building has been inhabited and lived in (like the archaeological concept of artefact biography), or should we be looking at space (within buildings or around and between them)?

The programme is:

9.30 Registration and coffee

10.00 Welcome and Introduction – Jonathan Kewley (symposium organiser)

Session 1: A methodological basis (Chair: Peter Guillery, Survey of London)

10.10 David Clark (independent scholar), ‘It isn’t going to be what we expected’: the importance of the structure

10.30 Dr Catherine Kent (Durham University), Towards a ‘buildings history’: the case of Doddington Bastle

10.50 Nicholas Cooper (independent scholar) Honour and Credit: Two Themes in Jacobean Architecture

11.10 Discussion

11.20 Coffee

Session 2: A more nuanced approach to attribution? (Chair: David Adshead, Attingham Trust)

11.50 Jiat-Hwee Chang (Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore), Inventing the Colonial Polite: Agency and Legitimacy in the Architectural Historiography of Singapore.

12.10 Elizabeth M. Merrill (Postdoctoral research fellow, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin), Without attributions: finding new meaning in the history of Italian Renaissance fortification architecture.

12.30 Amy Smith (Survey of London), Architecture and Collaboration at the London Hospital.

12.50 Discussion

13.00 – 14.00 Lunch

Session 3: Vernacular and Modernism (Chair: Dr Danielle Willkens, Auburn University)

14.00 Dr Vittoria Capresi (Senior Researcher, Technische Universität, Berlin) and Dr Axel Fisher (Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Architecture, Université libre de Bruxelles), The “polite vernacular” in modernist rural landscapes and its challenge to architectural history

14.20 Michele Tenzon (Research fellow / PhD candidate, Université libre de Bruxelles, Faculty of Architecture), Beyond Écochard: the works of the Service de l'urbanisme of Morocco in the Gharb.

14.40 Richard Brook (Principal Lecturer, Manchester School of Architecture), ‘Regionality: agency and authorship in architecture’.

15.00 Discussion

15.10 Tea

Session 4: Global Vernacular (Chair: Jonathan Kewley, Historic England)

15.30 Alvaro Velasco (Architectural Association), The quest for Atlantis and other vernacular myths: Reyner Banham’s understanding of history through the vernacular.

15.50 Dr Ole W Fischer (Assistant Professor, History and Theory of Architecture, School of Architecture, University of Utah), Grey matter(s) – the birth of a new vernacular out of the generic?

16.10 Discussion

16.20 General discussion and conclusion

17.00 Close

Full details at

Jonathan Kewley, Historic England.

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To book or for more details, see

For any queries, contact the organiser, Jonathan Kewley

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