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Prof Ben Campkin

Prof Ben Campkin

Professor of History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
7th Sep 1998

Research summary

My research focuses on the processes, discourses, and impacts of urban change. It examines how decline and renewal are articulated and enacted through shifting terminologies and aesthetic tropes, and the involvement or exclusion of different publics. My work spans from early twentieth-century slum clearances, to the large-scale government and property-led regeneration campaigns of the 1990s and early 2000s, to contemporary activism and policy innovations to protect social and cultural infrastructure. These investigations are transdisciplinary, drawing from my background in archaeology, art history, architectural history, geography and urban studies, and informed by my interest in queer studies. With a strong focus on London, my research has also prioritised international comparison. It is driven by a commitment to methodological innovation, crosscutting different media and forms of evidence, and the use of history to positively inform contemporary and future cities.

My monograph, Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture (I.B. Tauris, 2013), won the 2015 Urban Communication Foundation Jane Jacobs Award (USA) and was commended in the 2014 Royal Institute of British Architects President’s Award for Outstanding University-Located Research. I am co-editor of Sexuality and Gender at Home: Experience, Politics, Transgression (Bloomsbury, 2017), Dirt: New Geographies of Cleanliness and Contamination (I.B. Tauris, 2007) and Engaged Urbanism: Cities and Methodologies (I.B. Tauris, 2016). These collections feature emerging and established scholars from across the arts and humanities and social sciences, as well as built environment practitioners and artists.

My current research focuses on queer space and night-time urbanism. I am lead author on two reports – LGBTQ+ Cultural Infrastructure in London: Night Venues, 2006-present (2017) and LGBTQ+ Nightlife in London – that have directly impacted on the Mayor of London’s Draft London Plan (2017), Cultural Infrastructure Strategy (2017), Culture and Night Time Economy Supplementary Planning Guidance (2017). This research has been widely reported in the local, national and international media, in over 40 articles and broadcasts, including BBC London News, ITV News, The Architects’ Journal, The Telegraph, The Economist, The Guardian and Time Out.

I have a strong track record of leading collaborative transdisciplinary research through funded projects, events and outputs. This includes leading the cross-faculty UCL Urban Laboratory as Director (2011-18) and Co-Director (2007-11, 2018-) and large multi-institution grant applications, e.g. being UCL Co-Principle Investigator for the EU-funded Urban Lab+ International Network of Urban Laboratories. I have been awarded £30,000 Leverhulme Trust funding to host 2 artist residencies. I am a member of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College (2012-) and regularly conduct reviews for other agencies internationally. I serve on two London Arts and Humanities Partnership Doctoral Training Centre panels. 

Teaching summary

Over two decades of teaching in the Bartlett, Ben has contributed to a wide range of degree programmes, from undergraduate to graduate. His educational practice has focused on nurturing innovative transdisciplinary, interdisciplinary and inclusive pedagogies and cross-faculty research-led teaching. Working across professional silos is a major challenge in the built environment sector, noted in recurrent government and professional reports, and this is something that Ben’s teaching has aimed to improve. His educational practice is also driven by concerns to address inequalities through attention to gender, sexuality and the decolonisation of curricular, and through local and international collaboration. Recent activities in this area include participation in the Erasmus Mundus EU-funded project Urban Lab+ Network of International Urban Laboratories and co-editing publications such as ’Global Education for Urban Futures’, Urban Pamphleteer #5 (with Alfaro d’Alençon et al) and Engaged Urbanism (with Duijzings, 2016). For two years Ben co-organised the UCL-wide Queer Space reading group which has subsequently been formalised as a series of public seminars under the title ‘Queer Space Forum’, run through qUCL LGBTQ+ Research Network, a network he helped to establish with colleagues from UCL’s LGBT Equalities Advisory Group in 2014.

At postgraduate level, with Dr Clare Melhuish Ben coordinates ‘Histories of Global London: 1900 to the present 1 and 2’ (Term 2 options) under the MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments. These two interlinked 15-credit modules assess urban heritage as a social, cultural and economic asset in complex multicultural/postcolonial cities. They position the capital’s global histories and population flows as central to a critical understanding of its urban heritage and futures. UCL students interested in participating in this module are welcome to contact Ben by email.

Ben also contributes to the MA Architectural History, including seminar sessions for Critical Methodologies of Architectural History, Research and Dissemination, and Representation of Cities.

At graduate level, Ben is MPhil/PhD Director and Departmental Graduate Tutor for the MPhil/PhD Architectural and Urban History and Theory. 

Education

University College London
PhD, Architecture and Urbanism | 2009
University College London
MSc, Architecture History and Theory | 2001
University College London
BA, Archaeology and History of Art | 1997

Biography

Ben Campkin is Professor of History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism. He is currently Co-Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory and Academic Lead for UCL East for the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. Ben is Departmental Graduate Tutor and Director of the Bartlett School of Architecture’s MPhil/PhD Architectural and Urban History and Theory. He also teaches on the MA Architectural History and Theory and MSc Urban Studies.

Ben is the author of Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture (I.B. Tauris, 2013), which won the 2015 Urban Communication Foundation Jane Jacobs Award (USA) and was commended in the 2014 Royal Institute of British Architects President’s Award for Outstanding University-Located Research. He is co-editor of the series Urban Pamphleteer (2013-) and three anthologies: Sexuality and Gender at Home: Experience, Politics, Transgression (Bloomsbury, 2017), Dirt: New Geographies of Cleanliness and Contamination (I.B. Tauris, 2007) and Engaged Urbanism: Cities and Methodologies (I.B. Tauris, 2016). Recent publications include lead authorship of the reports LGBTQ+ Cultural Infrastructure in London: Night Venues, 2006-present (2017) and LGBTQ+ Nightlife in London (2016), and essays in The Routledge Companion to Urban Imaginaries, Urban Omnibus, Mobilising Housing Histories: Learning from London's Past, Architectural Theory Review, 3:AM Magazine, Forty Ways to Think About Architecture and Camera Constructs: Photography, Architecture and the Modern City.

Since September 2012, Ben has given over 40 invited talks external to UCL, as well as regularly participating in roundtables, workshops and public panels. Recent talks at London cultural institutions have included:  HTA Design, London (2017); Science Museum Lates (2017); Oval House Theatre (2016); Royal Academy of Arts (2016); Peckham Festival (2016); British Film Institute, National Film Theatre (2015). Recent invited talks at academic institutions include: TU Delft (2018); New York University in London (2017); Chelsea College of Art (2017); Plymouth University (2017); Goldsmith’s College (2016); Queen Mary, University of London (2015); Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture, Mumbai (2015); University of Westminster (2015). Recent conference contributions (keynotes and refereed papers) include: Urbanization Processes and Natural Morphologies, University of the Basque Country (2017, keynote); Going Underground, Birkbeck, University of London (2018); Doing Architectural Research, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge  (2017, keynote); Vanishing LGBTQ spaces, National Trust, Sutton House (2017); Writing Buildings, University of Kent School of Architecture (2016, keynote).

Publications