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The Bartlett School of Architecture

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Mr Edward Denison

Mr Edward Denison

Lecturer in Architecture

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
27th Sep 2010

Research summary

Dr Edward Denison's wide-ranging research is motivated by the notion of ‘otherness’, exploring the resistance to and the role, practice and imperative of non-canonical architectural histories, especially outside the west and in relation to modernity. His work concentrates on presenting new subjects and new ways of seeing established subjects to academic and public audiences internationally through lectures, tours, articles, books and exhibitions.

I have recently been responsible for writing the Nomination Dossier for the inscription of Eritrea’s capital city, Asmara, on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 2016, this research received the RIBA President's Award for Research in History and Theory and won the President's Medal for Research. Asmara was successfully inscribed as Eritrea's first World Heritage Site and Africa’s first modernist World Heritage Site on 8th July, 2017.

My most recent book, Architecture and the Landscape of Modernity in China before 1949 (Routledge, 2017), examines architecture and modernity in the turbulent era in China before the advent of Communism. The book is a development of my PhD thesis, which was awarded a Commendation in the RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis in 2012. My PhD was sponsored by the AHRC and was completed between 2007-2011, during which time I published Modernism in China – Architectural Visions and Revolutions (Wiley, 2008) and curated an accompanying 3-month exhibition in the main gallery at the RIBA to coincide with the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

My previous publication, Ultra-Modernism: Architecture and Modernity in Manchuria (Hong Kong University Press, 2017), co-authored with Guang Yu Ren, explores Japan's ambitious urban planning and architecture in the annexed northeast region of China formerly known as Manchuria before 1945. In 2017, the research won the RIBA President's Award for Research in History and Theory and the President's Medal for Research. 

In 2014, I published Luke Him Sau: Architect - China's Missing Modern (Wiley), which focuses on the life and work of Chinese architect and AA graduate, Luke Him Sau (Lu Qianshou 1904-1991) and was supported by the Luke Him Sau Charitable Trust in Hong Kong. Other research outputs include Building Shanghai – The Story of China’s Gateway (Wiley, 2006); The Life of the British Home – An Architectural History (Wiley, 2012); McMorran & Whitby (RIBA, 2009); and Asmara – Africa’s Secret Modernist City (Merrell, 2003).

Teaching summary

Dr Edward Denison is a Lecturer in Architectural History and Theory at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL and has been invited to give lectures all over the world on subjects related to his pioneering research in Africa, Asia and Europe. 

09.16 – present: Director and Module Coordinator on a relatively new and innovative MA course: Architecture and Historic Urban Environments. Established two years ago, this new Masters programme pioneers the development of a more innovative and creative approach to the reinterpretation and reuse of historical environments in cities around the world. I have been Director for just over one year and teach two modules on the programme: ‘Urban Regeneration and Cultural Heritage’ and ‘Dissertation/Major Project’. Last year our field trip was to Tel Aviv/Jaffa and this year will be to Asmara, Eritrea.

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/programmes/postgraduate/ma-architecture-and-historic-urban-environments

01.16 – present: Module Coordinator, MA Architectural History. My module is titled ‘Multiple Modernities Architecture’, which encourages students to question conventional modernist historiography by exploring architectural encounters with modernity outside its dominant geographical, theoretical and professional territories.

09.15 - present: PhD Supervision. I am currently supervising two PhD students and welcome proposals from any applicant interested in researching subjects outside established canons or that challenge established conventions.

10.14 – present: Co-coordinator, Year 5 Thesis. Since 2014, I have helped coordinate the thesis programme for Year 5 students in the final year of their Part 2. With responsibility for over 100 students, the joint role involves coordinating a Research Methods exercise, assigning supervisors, conducting thesis reviews, and second marking c.30 10,000-word theses.

09.10 – 03.17: Teaching Fellow, Year 4 History & Theory. In 2010, I started my teaching career with a seminar series on the Year 4 History & Theory programme titled ‘Hidden Histories and Multiple Modernities’, based on my research on modernism outside the west. I taught on the course for seven years until 2017.

Biography

Dr Edward Denison is a Lecturer at The Bartlett School of Architecture and an independent architectural, urban and cultural specialist. He is Director of the MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments, Co-coordinator of Year5 Thesis, Module Coordinator of Multiple Modernities Architecture on the MA Architectural History, and a PhD Supervisor. 

My work is sited at the nexus between architecture, urbanism and cultural studies. I am particularly interested in studying cultural and institutional prejudice in the historiography of the built environment and liberating the architectural history curriculum from its inherent Eurocentricism. I am interested in the notion of ‘otherness’, exploring the resistance to and the role, practice and imperative of non-canonical architectural histories, especially outside the west and in relation to modernity. 


I have lived and worked as an independent researcher and consultant for nearly two decades in Asia, Africa and Europe, and now combine this experience with teaching. I have written and photographed over 17 books and published numerous articles on architecture and design for a variety of international publishers.


For the last four years, I have worked with Eritrean colleagues to write, prepare and present the 1,300-page UNESCO Nomination Dossier for Eritrea’s capital city, Asmara. In July 2017, Asmara was successfully inscribed as Eritrea’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site and Africa’s first Modernist World Heritage Site. In 2016, the research received the RIBA President's Award for Research in History and Theory and won the President's Medal for Research. 


My most recent book, Architecture and the Landscape of Modernity in China before 1949 (Routledge, 2017), was broadly the subject of my AHRC-funded PhD, which was awarded a Commendation in the RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis in 2012. The research for my previous book, Ultra-Modernism: Architecture and Modernity in Manchuria (Hong Kong University Press, 2017) won the RIBA President's Award for Research in History and Theory and the President's Medal for Research. Other books include: Luke Him Sau: Architect – China’s Missing Modern (Wiley, 2014), The Life of the British Home – An Architectural History (Wiley, 2012) and McMorran & Whitby (RIBA Publishers and English Heritage, 2009).

Publications