The Bartlett School of Architecture

Dr Jacob Paskins

Dr Jacob Paskins

Lecturer (Teaching) and Head of Education

Dept of History of Art

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
27th Sep 2010

Research summary

My research interests centre on European architecture, urban design and planning from the second half of the twentieth century to the present day. My recent research has focused on the social, political and cultural processes of urban development in France and the United Kingdom. The main subjects of my research are:

Paris Under Construction

My book, Paris Under Construction: Building Sites and Urban Transformation (Routledge, 2016), is a historical analysis of urban development and construction work that took place in the Paris region during the post-war years. The research examines the extensive programme of construction that would transform the city and suburbs, and pieces together the social, political and cultural responses to urban change. Building sites became the centre of political debates as French technological and design innovation faced growing international competition. Widespread construction, meanwhile, relied heavily on migrant workers, whose living and working conditions were often far from satisfactory. Construction workers’ unions campaigned for improved rights and highlighted the social injustices of rapid economic and urban expansion. Building sites had a considerable impact on existing inhabitants: some residents organised community action to defend the interests of people displaced by infrastructure development. A presentation about construction workers in Paris is available here: http://sms.cam.ac.uk/media/1336994

Hoverport: Architecture, Planning and Politics for the Cross-Channel Hovercraft

This research proposes a critical study of the development, operation and ultimate decline of hoverports in Britain and France, from 1960 to the present day. The project interprets hovercraft transport and infrastructure in terms of nationalist discourses that attempted to reinforce national identities rooted in perceived prowess in design and technology. Moreover, the research offers a comparative assessment of the social consequences of the hovercraft on the coastal regions it served in Kent and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais. It investigates the role of hoverport development in the urban restructuring of port towns, processes which revealed contrasting responses to major infrastructure projects and the ensuing urban expansion. The sensitive coastal locations of hoverports, meanwhile, raised debates about environmental protection. Set against the backdrop of urbanisation and infrastructure expansion, hoverport development lay at the centre of confrontations between ecological concerns and economic pressures, which resonated among local communities and national governments.

This historical research ultimately seeks to reflect on the present-day plight of regions once home to and connected by the cross-channel hovercraft. Tracing the afterlives of the ruined Ramsgate International Hoverport, and mapping the migrant camps that developed around Calais’ abandoned hoverport, this research asks why the hovercraft failed to maintain the urban future of open borders and international cultural exchange that it promised.

Senses and the City

Multi-sensory approaches to architecture inform my research and teaching. Experiencing urban space is a complex operation of vision, hearing, touch, smell, and even taste. Efficient and safe movement through cities depends on an interaction of sensory perception. Smells and sounds create the historical and cultural identities of places and evoke memories as much as any built structure of monument. A presentation of my Aural Journey on the London Underground is available here: http://bit.ly/2gN9fou

Teaching summary

BA History of Art

HART0005 History of European Art (2): Renaissance to Contemporary.

HART0106 Architecture and the Modern City.

MArch Architecture

BARC009 Advanced Architectural Studies.


Jacob Paskins is an architectural and urban historian. Jacob graduated from UCL with a BA in French and History of Art. He completed an MSc in Architectural History and a PhD in Architectural History and Theory at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture. His master’s and doctoral studies were funded by studentships from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. He was the Eugenie Strong Research Fellow in Architectural History and Director of Studies in Architecture at Girton College, University of Cambridge from 2012 to 2015. At UCL Jacob has held teaching fellowships in Urban Studies (Department of Geography), and Architectural History and Theory (Bartlett School of Architecture). Jacob is currently Lecturer (Teaching), Connected Learning Lead and (from January 2021) Director of Studies in the UCL Department of History of Art.