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Architecture & Historic Urban Environments MA

This programme pioneers a fresh and critical approach to architecture and historic urban environments at a world-leading architecture school.

Student work, Architecture & Historic Urban Environments MA, at The Bartlett B-Pro Show 2019. Photography by Ash Knotek.
About

We are living in a time of planetary crisis. Last century's 'great acceleration' and rapid urbanisation have placed enormous pressures on cities and their built heritage. For architects and other built environment professionals, this presents unique challenges in a world that has already largely been constructed. Rising to these challenges, this programme promotes a fresh and critical approach to creative interventions at all scales, aimed at reinterpreting, rejuvenating and rethinking historic urban environments in the 21st century.

Students examine cities from around the world, using London as an outstanding laboratory for learning. Working alongside historians and researchers from The Survey of London team, students learn the processes of urban surveying, recording, mapping and analysis alongside urban strategies and key issues concerning urban and cultural heritage. 

In tandem with developing a robust theoretical and practical understanding of different sites and critical methods, students have the opportunity to develop their own design practice, thinking creatively about how historic urban environments might thrive sustainably in an uncertain future.  

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Highlights

  • Work with a team of outstanding designers, researchers and historians to develop creative approaches to historic urban environments 
  • Learning from London’s multi-layered history, develop transferable skills for historical research and design practice
  • Develop a detailed understanding of urban surveying, recording and mapping, informed by field trips to world-renowned sites
  • Exhibit your dissertation or major project as part of the programme's annual exhibition

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Whilst studying this Master’s, I advanced my creativity and learnt new ways of thinking about and practicing architecture. The teaching was exceptional and allowed me to explore the interdisciplinary nature of architecture, exploring urbanism, conservation and heritage, ethnography, site writing, philosophy and art all in one degree.

Androniki Pappa, 2019 graduate and Architectural Assistant at Alexandra Steed Urban

I learnt to think about architecture as a diverse discipline, to break the boundaries of design and research, and to explore my career potential at a world-renowned institution.

Longhua Gu, 2019 graduate and architect at Benoy Ltd. London studio
 


Modules

Core modules

Issues in Historic Urban Environments (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Eva Branscome

In this module students are introduced to the issues, approaches and questions related to historical research. They consider how architectural disciplines express concepts and theories regarding urban environments in case studies ranging from rapidly growing economies to developing nations. 

Design Research for Historic Environments (15 credits)

Module coordinator: Hannah Corlett

Students learn about the different design-based research methods they will need throughout the programme, including elements of design, architectural history and theory, cultural studies and urban theory. Students investigate contemporary architectural solutions, urban conditions and social, economic and cultural practices, and propose creative interventions that challenge, reinterpret, reuse and enhance the historic environment. 

Design Practice for Historic Environments (30 credits)

Module coordinator: Hannah Corlett

The work undertaken on this module builds upon the knowledge and skills gained in Design Research for Historic Environments. Students develop their own design proposals for either reusing and reshaping a chosen site or producing a broader design strategy for an urban environment. Students develop their skills in digital design and fabrication and can present their project in the form of a portfolio, or physical or digital models, a series of photographs or drawings, or an animation or film. 

Surveying and Recording of Cities (30 credits)

Module coordinator: Colin Thom

Through a series of lectures, seminars, practical workshops and walking tours of London, this module teaches students how to document urban historic environments in social contexts.

Using London as a case study, students also explore methods for the surveying, researching and recording of architectural heritage in cities, keeping in mind that urban fabric is an expression of social history. Students build a robust knowledge of how to read the city, its architecture and its topography with a view to understanding historic context, as well as techniques for assessing and investigating architectural heritage, such as fabric analysis and archival research, including the use of online resources. 

Dissertation/Major Project (60 credits)

Module coordinators: Dr Edward Denison and Hannah Corlett

Guided by their specialist supervisors, students draw upon the work carried out over the course of the year to produce an original research project in the form of a dissertation, design proposal, film, artwork, gallery installation or digital scripting. Students’ research projects can be sited anywhere in the world and examine how the historic architectural and urban contexts, or the role of design, theorisation implementation and management, can help to reinterpret and reinvigorate the existing urban fabric.  


Optional modules

Students complete 30 credits from modules either on this programme or other programmes at The Bartlett School of Architecture. Options include, but are not limited to:

Histories of Global London, 1900 to the Present: Part I (15 credits) & Histories of Global London, 1900 to the Present: Part II (30 credits)

Module coordinators: Professor Ben Campkin and Dr Clare Melhuish

Using London as a primary case study, students develop an understanding of how the built environment is shaped by its global connections and population flows, from 1900 to the present. Drawing on the work of the UCL Urban Laboratory, students engage with key debates in the history and theory of urban change to theories of identity, critical heritage and equalities, and examine how this is crucial in understanding urban heritage and futures. They then undertake archival and/or visual research and/or fieldwork about a London site of their choosing, producing an essay (15/30 credit version) and proposal for public engagement with their findings (30 credit version only). 

Representations of Cities (30 credits) 

Module coordinator: Professor Iain Borden

This module is part of Architectural History MA. 

Multiple Modernities Architecture (30 credits)

Module coordinator: Dr Edward Denison

This module is part of Architectural History MA. 

Critical Spatial Practice: Site Writing (30 credits)

Module coordinators: Polly Gould and Professor Jane Rendell

This module is part of Situated Practice MA.



Key information

Modes/duration

Full-time: one year
Flexible: two to five years. 

Entry requirements

A minimum of a second-class UK degree in an appropriate subject or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Candidates who hold either a professional or other qualification, obtained by written examinations and approved by UCL, together with at least three years of appropriate professional experience may also be admitted.

A design/creative portfolio is also expected. Applicants will be asked to submit a portfolio of their design work once their completed application has been received, and should not send or upload work until it has been requested.

Application deadline

This programme is now full for 2020 entry and we are not accepting any more applications.

Fees and funding

  • Tuition fee information can be found on the UCL Graduate Prospectus.
  • For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding section of the UCL website.

Staff

Dr Edward Denison, Programme Director

Dr Edward Denison has been Programme Director since 2016 and has taught at The Bartlett School of Architecture since 2010. His wide-ranging research, combining academia and professional practice, is motivated by the notion of ‘otherness’. He explores the role, practice and imperative of, and resistance to, non-canonical architectural histories, especially outside the West and in relation to modernity.

He has worked extensively on heritage projects in different global contexts, including Asia, Africa and Europe. He was awarded the RIBA President’s Medal for Research in two consecutive years: in 2016 for his work on the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination of Asmara, the modernist capital of Eritrea; and in 2017 for his work on ultra-modernism in Manchuria. He was shortlisted in 2018 for his research on modernism in China.

His publications include: Architecture and the Landscape of Modernity in China before 1949 (Routledge, 2017); Ultra-Modernism – Architecture and Modernity in Manchuria (HKUP, 2017); Luke Him Sau, Architect: China’s Missing Modern (Wiley, 2014); The Life of the British Home – An Architectural History (Wiley, 2012); McMorran & Whitby (RIBA, 2009); Modernism in China: Architectural Visions and Revolutions (Wiley, 2008); Building Shanghai: The Story of China’s Gateway (Wiley, 2006); and Asmara – Africa’s Secret Modernist City (Merrell, 2003).

Bill Hodgson, Departmental Tutor

Bill Hodgson

Afra Van't Land 

Afra Van't Land 

Dr Eva Branscome

Eva Branscome is an Austrian-American architectural historian and writer based in London. Her research and teaching work has two main strands. The first engages with the links between built heritage and cultural practices in contemporary Western cities, and the second focusses on the 19th and 20th century architectural history of Central Europe. Here, she concentrates particularly on the intersections of architecture and media, such as exhibitions, publications and photography, as well as on museum architecture as a cultural and urban hinge and driver for regeneration.

Eva’s extensive knowledge of and experience in British architectural heritage, places her at the forefront of determining the future preservation of the ‘modern historic’ environment in Britain, with around 50 buildings (including the Barbican and Lloyd’s Building) now under historic protection following her successful applications for statutory listing.

Previously, Eva taught Architectural History and Theory at Queen Mary University, Oxford Brookes University and the University of Westminster. She has also been involved in exhibitions at the MAK Gallery in Vienna, the ICA in London and the Museum Abteiberg in Germany as a researcher and co-curator.
 

Hannah Corlett

Hannah Corlett is the founding Director of HNNA (formerly Assemblage), a studio of urban designers and architects who combine practice and research to reconsider how we design cities. Key projects by the studio include winning schemes in the international competitions for the $1billion Iraqi parliament complex and 50-hectare masterplan, and the UN-HABITAT (United Nations Agency for Human Settlements) fully integrated, economic housing settlements in Iraq. Currently HNNA is leading the new Design District at the heart of the Greenwich Peninsula Masterplan.  

Prior to leading design at MA-AHUE, Hannah led a Master's Unit in Urban Design at The Bartlett, undertaking long-term research of the challenges of global urbanisation. Prior to HNNA, Hannah worked with Niall McLaughlin and Will Alsop and studied at The Bartlett. Hannah also lectures and debates internationally, including being a keynote speaker discussing cultural heritage at the recent RIBA International Conference, a programme of events exploring the United Nation’s New Urban Agenda. In 2014 Hannah was highly commended at the Architects Journal’s International Awards for Women in Architecture.  

Sarah Milne, the Survey of London Team

Dr Sarah Ann Milne is an architectural historian at the Survey of London. She trained as an architect before completing a PhD in Architectural History at the University of Westminster, where she became Lecturer in the History and Theory of Architecture. In recent years, she has also taught at New York University (London), the Sapienza University of Rome, and with the Attingham Trust on their London House summer course. 

Sarah takes a micro-historical and interdisciplinary approach to buildings in order to contribute to broader conversations about how cities change in the long term. She has published articles on London as a global city of exchange in the late sixteenth century, and as a divided city where the ‘colour bar’ was in operation in the mid twentieth century. Since 2016, she has worked on the Survey of London’s experimental Histories of Whitechapel project, which brings ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ stories of place into dialogue online.

Sarah is a council member of the London Records Society, and is a Project Manager at the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain. She is currently producing a series of short films on London’s Black History for young men involved in the RISE Leadership Academy.

Professor Ben Campkin

Professor Ben Campkin

Dr Clare Melhuish

Dr Clare Melhuish


Careers

The Bartlett School of Architecture is one of the world's top-ranked architecture schools and our graduates enjoy excellent employment opportunities.


Contact 

Programme Director: Edward Denison
Postgraduate Admissions: Thea Heintz
Programme Administrator: Thomas Abbs

architecture history urbanism