UCL Urban Laboratory

Dr Clare Melhuish

Dr Clare Melhuish

Principal Research Fellow

UCL Urban Laboratory

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Jul 2013

Research summary

My research focuses on the processes and impacts of large-scale urban developments in the UK and abroad, and conceptualisations of urban heritage within transformative processes of change in multicultural cities.  I lead the Urban Laboratory's participation in the Curating the City research cluster in the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies at UCL (a partnership with the University of Gothenburg, Sweden).  My background is transdisciplinary, in architectural history and criticism, anthropology, and human geography, drawing on ethnographic and visual research methods and writing to analyse architecture and the built environment as social and cultural setting. My particular areas of interest and expertise include Modern Movement and contemporary architecture, postcolonial urban aesthetics and heritage, and urban regeneration policy and practice, with specific area specialisations in the architecture and planning of the UK, France, Gulf and Caribbean.

Teaching summary

I offer PhD supervision in the anthropology of architecture, the built environment and urban processes; ethnography of architectural practice; urban and architectural visual and material culture; postcolonial urbanism; critical urban heritage; modern(ist) architecture and planning in London; French modern(ist) architecture and planning; Arab cities; Caribbean urbanism; universities and urban regeneration; education spaces and the city;  participatory and community-led planning; anthropology of home and domestic space; ethnographic methodologies.

I am a co-convenor on the MSc Urban Studies programme in UCL Geography, and I also contribute dissertation supervision on that programme and on the MA in Architectural History and Theory in the Bartlett School of Architecture. 

From 2019 I will co-convene a pair of new modules, Histories of Global London 1900 to the present 1 & 2, on the MA Architecture and Historic Urban Environments course in the Bartlett School of Architecture, with Prof Ben Campkin. These two interlinked 15-credit modules assess urban heritage as a social, cultural and economic asset in complex multicultural/postcolonial cities. They position the capital’s global histories and population flows as central to a critical understanding of its urban heritage and futures. 

I have taught for a number of years on the Ethnographic Ways of Knowing module in the MArch at University of Westminster, and prior to that have contributed to the PhD programme at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and offered a course on Architecture and Anthropology at the Architectural Association, London.


Brunel University
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2008
University College London
Other higher degree, Master of Arts | 2001
University of Cambridge
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 1985


I am Director and Principal Research Fellow in the UCL Urban Laboratory, having joined UCL in 2013 to undertake research on university-led urban regeneration linked to the early planning of the UCL East campus development project in east London.

From 2008 to 2013 I was a Visiting Research Fellow in Anthropology at Brunel University, and worked on a series of research projects in the Geography departments of the Open University (Architectural atmospheres, branding and the social: the role of digital visualizing technologies in contemporary architectural practice, led by Prof Gillian Rose and Dr Monica Degen, funded by the ESRC); Kings College London (Arts-led Regeneration, with Prof Loretta Lees, as part of an AHRC Connected Communities bid); and Queen Mary University of London (Gender and the Built Environment, led by Prof Alison Blunt and funded by Urban Buzz); as well as the Centre for Teaching and Learning in Design (CETLD) at Brighton University and Centre for Teaching and Learning in Creativity (CETLC) at Sussex University (joint project implementing ethnographic approaches to evaluating impact of learning space design, led by Dr Jos Boys).I completed my PhD in Social Anthropology at Brunel University in 2008 ('Inhabiting the image: architecture and social identity in the post-industrial city. The case of the Brunswick, London', funded by AHRB), and obtained an MA in Material Culture with Distinction in the Department of Anthropology at UCL in 2001, following a career as an architectural journalist, critic, author and curator.

My undergraduate degree was in History (pt 1) and History of Art (pt 2) at Christ’s College Cambridge.