Mr Thomas Charles Dyckhoff
The Bartlett School of Architecture
Faculty of the Built Environment
- Joined UCL
- 1st Dec 2016
I work mostly between the disciplines of urban and architectural history, cultural geography and visual culture.
I'm particular interested in how forms of mass media and visual culture help construct ways of seeing, thinking about and living within built landscapes.
I'm currently researching a PhD on television, architecture and the city, looking at how British TV from the late 50s to the 90s became a new kind of “public space” where ideas and opinions about the nation and its built landscapes were debated and fought over.
My other work and research to date has concentrated on the many ways in which human landscapes, architecture, cities and towns are experienced and created by their users; how architecture and urbanism exists in the public imagination and in public culture; and in public engagement with landscapes, architecture and urbanism.
For instance, "The Market", the 2009 documentary for my BBC2 television series, Saving Britain's Past, chronicled the impact and history of gentrification through one London neighbourhood, Covent Garden, and the community resistance to it during the 1960s and 1970s. Mixing archive footage and contemporary interviews with some of the key players, such as Brian Anson and Countess Spencer, we created a detailed portrait of urban change contested by different publics. Other episodes in this series about histories of heritage looked at topics ranging from attitudes to ethnic identity in our relationships with heritage, to power struggles over land ownership in defining nationhood through the representation of landscape.
By contrast, for my 20122 Channel 4/Netflix three-part series, The Secret Life of Buildings, I connected contemporary architecture with the latest research in neuroscience and medicine to examine what spaces do to the body and brain of their users. Each episode examined a different type of environment – workspaces, home spaces and spaces of leisure – combining experiments done in cooperation with the Universities of Oxford and California (San Diego) with interviews with experts such as Lord Foster and neuroscientist and architect Dr Eve Edelstein. From the effects of natural light on users to the ways in which shopping mall owners use neuro-marketing to control the behaviour of shoppers, the series demonstrated to an audience of millions the vital importance good design – and, conversely, the malign influence of bad design – in architecture to the physical and mental health of its users.
My work in writing, journalism and broadcasting means that I am also fascinated by the ways in which we talk about and represent landscapes, architecture and urbanism in various media; how they exist outside the discipline and profession in the popular imagination; and how mass media of different types mediates them.
My book, The Age of Spectacle: the rise and fall of iconic architecture (Windmill, 2017) is a history of the past 40 years in western architecture and cities, looking at how the shift from postwar political economies to more recent, market-led neoliberalism has altered cities and architecture around the world.
From 2013 to 2016 I was honorary senior research associate at the Bartlett working as an editorial consultant for the University of London, the RIBA and the publishers Bloomsbury to create a new template for the 21st edition of Sir Banister Fletcher's Global History of Architecture, rethinking its content, tone, structure, purpose and digital future. The 21st edition has been edited by Professor Murray Fraser.
I have taught urban and architectural history for a wide range of degree programmes, undergraduate and postgraduate.
Since 2017, I've been senior teaching fellow in the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London, teaching on the history and theory of architecture course for second-year architecture undergraduates (ENVS2034), and the Making Cities course for all Faculty first-year undergraduates (ENVS1019).
I also teach in the Spatial Practices department at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, where I devised and now lead the history and theory module for postgraduate MArch architecture students, which focuses on the links between architecture, urbanism and politics.I've also taught at various times on degrees at other institutions, including Eindhoven Design Academy, the Netherlands, the Architectural Association, London, the University of Westminster, London, and London Metropolitan University.
BiographyTom is a historian, teacher, writer and broadcaster about cities, geographies, architecture and visual culture.
He is Senior Teaching Fellow in the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London, teaching on the Making Cities course for all first-year faculty undergraduates, and the history and theory of architecture and cities course for second-year architecture undergraduates. He also teaches in the Spatial Practices department at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts, where he leads the history and theory module for postgraduate MArch architecture students, which focuses on the the links between architecture, urbanism and politics.
As a writer, critic and broadcaster about architecture, cities, landscapes and design, Tom has worked for 25 years writing short- and long-form journalism and books, and writing and presenting television, radio and podcast documentaries, series and programmes on topics from Buckminster Fuller and Oscar Niemeyer to a history of attitudes to heritage.
Tom was for a decade architecture and design critic for The Times newspaper and, before that, deputy homes and design editor at The Guardian, associate editor of Design magazine and assistant editor of Perspectives on Architecture magazine. He wrote a weekly column for The Guardian newspaper's Weekend magazine for more than 20 years, and has long written extensively for a wide range of international publications, both mass market and specialist, including Esquire, GQ, Wallpaper, New Statesman, Domus, Icon and Blueprint.
Television and radio/podcast series and one-off documentaries include: two seasons as design judge on Channel 4's Handmade (2022-ongoing); four seasons as main presenter of Netflix/BBC2's prime-time television series The Great Interior Design Challenge; two seasons as writer and presenter of BBC Radio 4's radio series The Design Dimension; Channel 4/Netflix's three-part television series The Secret Life of Buildings, as writer and presenter, in which Tom looked at the effects of architecture and spaces on the brains and bodies of their users; and BBC2's seven-part television series, Saving Britain's Past, in which, as writer and presenter, he examined national attitudes to heritage. He also wrote and presented many short- and full-length documentaries on architecture, cities and design for BBC television's long-running weekly arts programme, The Culture Show.
Tom is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and has been: honorary senior research associate at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London; a trustee on the board of the Architecture Foundation and on the Arts Council's architecture committee and that of the Twentieth Century Society; and head of exhibitions at the Royal Institute of British Architects. He has sat on the juries for many architecture and design prizes and competitions, such as, from 2008 to 2011, the national shortlisting jury for the Stirling Prize and the RIBA's awards committee, the selection jury for the 2006 British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale and, in 2013, the Stirling Prize finalists.
Tom is author of among other books and essays, The Age of Spectacle: the rise and fall of iconic architecture (Windmill, 2017), a history of recent architecture and cities; and co-author of the official guide to the architecture of 2012's Olympic Games, The Architecture of London 2012: Vision, Design, Legacy (John Wiley & Sons, 2012).