Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Laughter: Laughing at Architecture - Architectural Histories of Humour, Satire and Wit

23 May 2019, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm


We are deligthed to welcome Michela Rosso (Architecture and Design, Politecnico di Torino), Angela Becher (Chinese Film Studies, U. of Liverpool), Alan Powers (Historical Studies, The London School of Architecture), and Christoph Lueder (Architecture and Urbanism, Kingston School of Art) for this book launch. Discussant: Adrian Forty (The Bartlett, UCL). Chaired by Albert Brenchat (IAS)

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Albert Brenchat


IAS Common Ground
Ground floor, South Wing, UCL
United Kingdom

In a media-saturated world, humour stands out as a form of social communication that is especially effective in re-appropriating and questioning architectural and urban culture. Whether illuminating the ambivalences of metropolitan life or exposing the shock of modernisation, cartoons, caricature, and parody have long been potent agents of architectural criticism, protest and opposition.

In a novel contribution to the field of architectural history, this book outlines a survey of visual and textual humour as applied to architecture, its artefacts and leading professionals. Employing a wide variety of visual and literary sources (prints, the illustrated press, advertisements, theatrical representations, cinema and TV), thirteen essays explore an array of historical subjects concerning the critical reception of projects, buildings and cities through the means of caricature and parody. Subjects range from 1750 to the present, and from Europe and the USA to contemporary China. From William Hogarth and George Cruikshank to Osbert Lancaster, Adolf Loos' satire, and Saul Steinberg's celebrated cartoons of New York City, graphic and descriptive humour is shown to be an enormously fruitful, yet largely unexplored terrain of investigation for the architectural and urban historian.


All welcome. Please note that there may be photography and/or audio recording at some events and that admission is on a first come first served basis. Please follow this FAQ link for more information.

Image: Saul Steinberg, 'Untitled', 1954.  By permission of The Saul Steinberg Foundation/Artists Right Society, New York.

About the Speaker

at Institute of Advanced Studies