Dr Ben Campkin

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I am an urbanist, an architectural historian and critic. My cross-disciplinary methods, and the diverse objects of my research enquiries, reflect my background in a number of disciplines that have distinct but overlapping interests in architecture, cities and urban culture - archaeology, art history, architectural history and geography. I am Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory  - a cross-disciplinary centre for research, teaching and public engagement on cities and urbanisation - and was previously Co-Director (2008-11). I am Senior Lecturer in Architectural History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture. I chair the Executive Group coordinating UCL's Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities initiative (2012-) and I co-chair the UCL East Academic Challenge Panel.

I am the author of Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture (IB Tauris, 2013); and I am co-editor of Dirt: New Geographies of Cleanliness and Contamination (IB Tauris, 2007, paperback 2012) and ‘Architecture and dirt’, special issue of the Journal of Architecture (2007), two anthologies that explore how knowledge about hygiene, and beliefs about dirt, have influenced the production of cities, architecture and space.

I am co-editor of Urban Pamphleteer (2013-), a peer-reviewed pamphlet publication. I previously served as Deputy Editor on the editorial board of CITY: analysis of urban trends, theory, policy, action (2001-2006). I am a member of the Urban Lab+ International Network of Urban Laboratories, Erasmus Mundus Action 3 Programme Steering Committee (2013-). I am Principal Investigator on two Leverhulme Trust Artist Residencies with the photographic artists Max Colson (2014-) and Rab Harling (2013-14). In 2004 I was co-recipient of an RIBA Research Trust Modern Architecture and Town Planning award. I previously acted as an advisor to the Centre for Education in the Built Environment’s Special Interest Group on Diversity in Architectural Education (2004-2006). 

I have given talks and conference papers at a wide range of UK and international institutions. Recent examples include Central European University, Budapest; Architekturforum Aedes, Berlin; La Casa Encendida, Madrid; TU Berlin, Urban Lab+ programme; the International Forum on Doctoral Education in Europe, ENHSA, Riga, Latvia; University of Nicosia, Cyprus; Penn State University, USA; Harvard Graduate School of Design, USA; the Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, USA; the Society of Architectural Historians, Pittsburgh, USA; and the University of Cape Town, Republic of South Africa, School of Architecture. I regularly give talks at London universities and in public venues such as the Folkestone Triennial (2014); Zabludowicz Collection (2012); Camden Arts Centre (2012); Freeword Centre (2012); Future of London (2012); the Building Centre (2009); the Architecture Foundation (2009); and the Royal Academy of Arts London (2007).

Research Summary

My research interests are wide-ranging and I have recently published essays, for example, on the theoretical work of the anthropologist Mary Douglas, the photography of Stephen Gill, the architecture of David Adjaye, Google Street View and its place in the history of urban survey photography and the history of bedbug infestation and control. I have been researching urban change since 2001 and have studied a wide range of architectural and spatial forms and conditions associated with decline: from slums, sink estates and ghettoes, to industrial ruins, wastelands, red-light-zones, and infested dwellings. In my work I use cross-disciplinary methods to attend to the imaginaries of decline and regeneration, and the relationships between them. My book Remaking London (IB Tauris, 2013) spans from early twentieth century slum clearances to the large-scale government and business-led regeneration campaigns of the 1990s and early 2000s. 

Collaborative research projects I am involved with include:

Urban Pamphleteer, a series of pamphlets on key contemporary urban questions which I co-founded and co-edit with Dr Rebecca Ross, Central Saint Martins, funded by UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities and UCL Urban Laboratory: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/urbanlab/research/urban-pamphleteer 

Picturing Place (with graphic designer Rebecca Ross and architectural historian Mariana Mogilevich), a project to  develop a methodology for the critical examination of the agency of images and image-production in processes of urban change: http://picturingplace.net/ 

Cities Methodologies, an annual peer-reviewed exhibition and events programme exploring innovative methodologies in urban research which I have curated since 2010, and which will lead to an edited anthology in 2015 (under contract, IB Tauris): http://www.ucl.ac.uk/urbanlab/research/cities-methodologies

qUCL, UCL's LGBTQ Research Network, a pilot cross-disciplinary network focused on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans* and Queer identities, histories and equalities, including a pan-UCL 'Queer Space' reading group (2012-): http://www.ucl.ac.uk/lgbtq-research

I have published in a wide-range of journals, including Architectural Theory Review (2013), The Journal of Architecture (2007), Architectural Design (2010) and the Centre for Education of the Built Environment: Transactions (2009), and anthologies such as Urban Constellations (2011), Camera Constructs: Photography, Architecture and the Modern City (2012), The Art of Dissent: Adventures in London's Olympic State (2012), Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender (2007). 

I have acted as a reviewer of research articles and proposals for journals, public bodies and publishers such as Architectural Theory Review (2007); Architectural Research Quarterly (2007); Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) (2009), AHRC Peer Review College (2012-); Ashgate (2011, 2012); CEBE Transactions (2007); City: Analysis of Urban Trends, Theory, Culture, Policy, Action (2001-2006); Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (2012); Journal of Architecture (2007, 2013); Journal of Historical Geography (2010); Progress in Human Geography (2010); Routledge (2006, 2014).

Research outputs

Out-of-sync estates 2017 Campkin B
Letters home 2017 Campkin B,Hunt RJ
LGBTQI Nightlife in London 2016 Campkin B,Marshall L
Change by design: reimagining regeneration through participatory design in Cape Town 2016 Architecture Sans Frontière ,Apsan Frediani A,Campkin B,Bainbridge E,Bennett J,De Carli B,French M,Macedo C,Walker J
Picturing place: the agency of images in urban change 2016 Campkin B,Mogilevich M,Ross R
Engaged urbanism: experimental and situated methodologies for fairer cities 2016 Campkin B,Duijzings G
Heritage and Renewal in Doha 2014 Campkin B
Derek Jarman's King's Cross 2014 Campkin B
Forty Ways to Think about Architecture: Architectural History and Theory Today 2014 Campkin B
The 'Postmodern Mindset' or Critical Pluralism? Architectural Doctoral Research Today 2014 Campkin B
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Research activities

Insect City
Mapping beyond the palimpsest
Picturing Place