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Mr Paul Smoothy
Rm.B10, Wates House
Bartlett School of Architecture
22 Gordon Street
Mr Paul Smoothy profile picture
  • Lecturer (Teaching)
  • The Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Faculty of the Built Environment

Paul Smoothy’s approach to Architectural Photography comes with a clear understanding of the subject. His ability to appropriately translate an architectural experience photographically is primarily based on an architectural training, a high visual aptitude and persuasive passion for our urban environment.

After a Degree in Architecture at the University of Greenwich, Paul completed his Diploma in Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, with Dissertations on ‘Architectural Photography and Representation’ from a historical perspective and the studied ‘Effects of Light and Colour Rendering on Spatial Vision’. Qualifying as an Architect from the Bartlett School in 1997, Paul began to follow his true enthusiasm in promoting good architectural design through the medium of photography. He proceeded quickly in establishing himself as an insightful and dedicated Photographer, not only able to visually convey a completed building or an interior with a balanced composition and an acute attention to detail, but to do so from a position which clearly enhances the perception of a project. He is also particularly apt at capturing a decisive moment in time during the construction phase or later life of a building.

Working extensively across London and the south of England over the last fifteen years, Paul has built up a wide client base of both young and internationally established Architects, Structural Engineers and Interior Designers, including Simon Conder Associates, Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, Stanton Williams, Richards Partington Architects, Johnson Naylor, Studio Octopi and Fluid Structures. His work has been published widely in the international architectural press, including The Architectural Review, The Architects’ Journal, RIBA Journal, Architecture Today, Architectural Research Quarterly, Architectural Design, Domus, Blueprint, Elle Decoration and Vanity Fair. Recent collaborations with two long-standing clients have resulted in monograph book publications.

Paul’s work has been exhibited at the RIBA Gallery in London, the Association of Photographers Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. He is a past winner of the London Photographic Awards, Architectural and Environmental Categories, and a number of his monochrome prints have been purchased by the British Architectural Library Photographs Collection. He is a registered Architect and has been a member of the Association of Photographers since 1998.

Research Summary

In parallel development with his own personal work, Paul continues to be informed by his teaching at the Bartlett School of Architecture and has collaborated with both post-graduate students and practicing staff on a number of research and consultancy projects.

An early collaboration with Jeremy Till and Sarah Wigglesworth which involved a photographic exploration and documentation of the construction, completion and later life of their home and practice in Stock Orchard Street, Islington has resulted in a Bartlett exhibition, guidebook and the publication; ‘Around & About Stock Orchard Street’ Routledge 2011, an illustrative collection of essays and narratives edited by Sarah Wigglesworth. Photographs from this experimental project have been published and exhibited worldwide and the building has won numerous awards, including the RIBA Sustainability Award in 2004.

Another long-standing partnership with Fluid Structures, a pioneering structural engineering practice, has seen the promotion and publication of many innovative projects. A ten year collaboration in the enquiring photography of projects, which have stretched the boundaries in design process, construction material and fabrication, has resulted in the monograph; ‘Fluid Structures, Adventures in Engineering’ Watermark Publications, 2011. The El Ray beach house project in Dungeness by Simon Conder Associates and Fluid Structures received the RIBA Stephen Lawrence Prize in 2009.

Teaching Summary

Digital organisation in the visual language of communication; the gathering, processing and presentation of information derived from the physical world has to a certain extent aided development and advanced our understanding. Such technology in visual communication however, does not necessarily help to shape our personal experience, imagination or perception.

Artistic practice in the medium of photography is aimed to establish the scope and limitations of our subject and provide an understanding of the territory we are exploring. These approaches to the medium play an important role in visual communication and ultimately to the architectural education we are progressing. In traditional photographic practice there is more concern for artistic interpretation and the capacity and characteristics of the medium, than in the rigid mechanistic approach seen in the more commercial application of digital photography. The word ‘photography’ was derived from the analogy of ‘drawing with light’. In the darkroom the chemical process of fixing a camera-produced image and the techniques of producing a direct representation of our subject, the exploration of spatial form and material composition under light, provide us with an immediate physical understanding.

Digital image capture and computer manipulation may advance the medium of communication, but it is only through analogue photography that a true indication of the experience of spatial perception and an authentic representation of our subject will be seen, appreciated and developed.

1997 Teaching Fellow Bartlett School of Architecture University College London, United Kingdom
1997 Architectural Photographer Free Lance London, United Kingdom
1996 – 1997 Artist in Residence Bartlett School of Architecture University College London, United Kingdom
1994 – 1996 Architectural Assistant Shepheard Epstein & Hunter Architects, United Kingdom
Academic Background
1997   Professional Practice University College London
1994   Diploma of Architecture University College London
1991   Bachelor of Arts (Honours) University of Greenwich
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