The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett Research Conversations: Clemency Gibbs

18 May 2021, 4:00 pm–5:30 pm

Clemency Gibbs. The retained façade of the Grade II listed Whiteley’s Shopping Centre, Queensway, London. February 2020.

MPhil/PhD student Clemency Gibbs discusses her research into façadism in London since the 1970s.

This event is free.

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The Bartlett School of Architecture

Façadism in London: 1970-present

Speaker: Clemency Gibbs
Supervisors: Dr Clare Melhuish (UCL Urban Laboratory) and Prof Ben Campkin (Chair)
Guest Panellist: Assoc. Prof Dean Sully (UCL Archaeology)


This research examines the architectural practices encompassed by the term ‘façadism’ as relate to historic buildings, focusing on London examples since 1970. 
Façadism is a wide-reaching term that is used to describe a variety of urban development projects that privilege the façade of a building above other elements. This research uses façadism case studies to explore the hypothesis that there currently exists a gap between critical heritage theory and conservation practice. Whereas the former conceives of heritage as a discursive process of production rather than a physical entity to be consumed, façadism practices reduce historic buildings to visual and material stimuli, suggesting a continued preoccupation with these structures’ aesthetic qualities. 
This research looks to identify the reasons behind the introduction and ongoing evolution of modern façadism practices, examining the principles that inform the decision-making process at a policy level and their impact on the discursive potential of built urban heritage. 

About The Bartlett Research Conversations

The Bartlett School of Architecture’s Research Conversations seminars comprise work-in-progress and upgrade presentations by students undertaking the MPhil/PhD Architectural Design and MPhil/PhD Architectural and Urban History and Theory. All current UCL staff and students are welcome to attend.

Held regularly throughout the academic year, the seminars are attended by the programme directors, Professor Jonathan Hill and Professor Sophia Psarra, PhD Coordinators, Dr. Nina Vollenbröker and Dr Sophie Read, and other PhD supervisors.

Image: Clemency Gibbs. The retained façade of the Grade II listed Whiteley’s Shopping Centre, Queensway, London. February 2020.