The Bartlett School of Architecture

Dr Sarah Dowding

Dr Sarah Dowding

Senior Research Fellow

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Jun 2016

Research summary

At the Survey of London, Sarah writes about buildings of all types through the centuries. She is particularly interested in how microhistories can contribute to broad conversations about how cities change in the long term. 


From 2016-2020, she was historian and website editor on the Histories of Whitechapel project and saw the publication arising from this work through to completion (June 2022). This research deepened her concern for the ways in which trade and migration shaped city development and architecture over centuries. Her research is currently centred on Bermondsey and Rotherhithe with a focus on twentieth-century social housing in the area.


Complementing her work at the Survey, Sarah's research explores diverse stories of the built environment utilising evidence less familiar to architectural historians. She has published articles on a sixteenth-century city block characterised by increasingly international mercantile activity, and a hostel for British seamen from the Caribbean and West Africa set-up in the mid-twentieth century. Aiming to document how the discipline itself has developed (and therefore the stories it has tended to tell), she was Project Manager for 'An Oral History of Architectural Historians' run by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain from 2019-2022. She is an affiliate member of the UCL Migration Research Unit and the UCL Centre for Early Modern Exchanges. Sarah also participates in the Global Urban History Project.


Sarah began her architectural history research by looking at early modern London and its companies. Her thesis examined the acquisition and development of the estate of one large mercantile guild, the London Drapers’ Company, in the post-reformation period (c.1540-1640). Examining how urban and economic change unsettled civic culture, she published an edition of The Dinner Book of the London Drapers' Company in 2019.

Teaching summary

Sarah leads a module on the Bartlett's MA in Architecture and Historic Urban Environments. She has taught at NYU London, the University of Sapienza, Rome, and on the Attingham Trust's 'Twentieth-Century London House' day.


University of Westminster
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2016
University of Westminster
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Postgraduate Diploma | 2010
Glasgow School of Art
First Degree, Bachelor of Architecture | 2007


Sarah Ann Dowding (née Milne) is an architectural historian at the Survey of London. She trained as an architect at the Glasgow School of Art and at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. Prior to joining the Survey in 2016, she was Lecturer in the History and Theory of Architecture at the University of Westminster, having completed her doctorate in Architectural History at the same university.