Exterior of Charter House building in Portsmouth

Architectural and urban history and theory research

Explore our work in architectural and urban history and theory, one of our areas of expertise in Architecture, interiors and urbanism

From its origins, architecture has always blended technology with art. It's combined subjective and objective knowledge and balanced cultural implications with the need for practicality. There's a near-endless reservoir of knowledge and creativity formed by experiences, history and theory, and abstract and transferable knowledge that goes far beyond the boundaries of specific buildings.

Our research in Architectural and Urban History and Theory works to understand this complex nature by bridging the gap between the technical and humanistic aspects of architectural and urban history and theory. Our work helps us to understand the history and theory behind how we conceptualise and produce architecture and urban spaces on different scales.

Architecture was created as a profession the moment it became an intellectual activity, focused on thinking and designing constructions to be built by other professions. Since the renaissance, theory and history have been crucial for developing architecture — it cannot be explained or understood without them.

This includes all the many discourses and accounts from academicism and eclecticism to architectural constructivism, expressionism, modernism, postmodernism, deconstruction and parametricism. The discipline has also been enriched with ideas coming from other fields of knowledge, such as philosophy, linguistics, sociology, anthropology or cultural studies.

Research topics

Our research covers:

  • Architectural history
  • Architectural theory
  • Urban history
  • Urban theory
  • Architecture and politics
  • Architecture and cultural studies
  • 1960s and 1970s neo avant-gardes

We use qualitative research methods, such as archival research, interpretive-historical techniques, textual criticism, synoptic method, logical argumentation, case studies and research by design.


We have produced research outputs in several categories, including contributions to specialist publications (articles), books, journals, chapters of books, contributions to conferences, non-textual research (research through design), and commissioned reports.

Discover our areas of expertise

Architectural and urban history and theory is one of 8 areas of expertise within our Architecture, interiors and urbanism research. Explore the others below.

Green infrastructures

We're planning cities that can be both liveable for humans, while not resulting in further decline to the planet's ecological vitality.

A view of Portsmouth from Catherine House looking towards Spinnaker Tower
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Historic environments and conservation

We're looking at how architecture, community and creative technologies can play a role in enhancing historic environments.

Exterior of a historic building with statues and Corinthian columns
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Interior design theory and practice

We're investigating how architects and designers might rethink the way they approach interior spaces, by exploring how buildings are used by people.

Retro Chair, Bike and Cabinet
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Sustainable urbanism

We're exploring the models, technology and policies that can guide governments and planners to develop sustainable cities.

Sustainable housing at Priddy's Hard, Gosport
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Design education

We're researching issues related to teaching and learning within creative and design disciplines, focusing on pedagogy, curriculum, student engagement, and learning theories.

Close-up design alphabet
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Digital design and new technologies

We're studying the integration of digital technology and new technologies in architectural planning, urban planning, and sustainability – and how they can impact future design processes.

3d printer model of a new building and city
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Environmental analysis and design

Through our research, we're re-thinking the way we build cities, to better react to environmental issues and challenges, such as climate change.

Skyscraper with plants growing up the facade, Sydney
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Research groups

Interested in a PhD in Architecture, Interiors and Urbanism?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Architecture, Interiors and Urbanism postgraduate research degrees page.

Browse research degrees