The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett Research Conversations: Stephannie Fell Contreras

04 May 2021, 4:00 pm–5:30 pm

Anon., ‘Gas Works’, Engraving, London, Published by Thomas Kelly, 1819.

MPhil/PhD student Stephannie Fell Contreras discusses her research into a geographical history of gas light in nineteenth century London.

This event is free.

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The Bartlett School of Architecture

The City of Gas Light: Lighting Technology, Vision and Urban Spectatorship in Early Nineteenth-Century London

Speaker: Stephannie Fell Contreras
Supervisors: Prof Mario Carpo and Robin Wilson
Guest panellist: Dr Ben Campkin


This research addresses a moment of change in urban technologies of illumination, following the introduction and expansion of gas light in London from 1804. It reconstructs a geography of gas light, highlighting the sites and practices that — alongside industrial infrastructure — provided visibility and allowed the public to experience a new technology in the city. The research will provide a sited historical study that will specifically address the links between the introduction of a new urban technology of light, public space, urban images and early nineteenth-century visuality. This preoccupation is largely absent from conventional histories of the development and industrialization of gas lighting technologies, as well as from narratives of the “radical reconfiguration of vision” (Crary, 1990) that dominate the historiography of visual culture in the early nineteenth century.

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: Anon., ‘Gas Works’, Engraving, London, Published by Thomas Kelly, 1819. Science Museum Group Collection © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum
Image reproduced under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence