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Dr Ben Campkin
22 Gordon Street
  • Senior Lecturer
  • The Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Faculty of the Built Environment

I am an urbanist, an architectural historian and critic. My cross-disciplinary methods, and the diverse objects of my research enquiries, reflect my background in a number of disciplines that have distinct but overlapping interests in architecture, cities and urban culture - archaeology, art history, architectural history and geography. I am Director of the UCL Urban Laboratory  - a cross-disciplinary centre for research, teaching and public engagement on cities and urbanisation - and was previously Co-Director (2008-11). I am Senior Lecturer in Architectural History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture. I chair the Executive Group coordinating UCL's Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities initiative (2012-) and I co-chair the UCL East Academic Challenge Panel.

I am the author of Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture (IB Tauris, 2013); and I am co-editor of Dirt: New Geographies of Cleanliness and Contamination (IB Tauris, 2007, paperback 2012) and ‘Architecture and dirt’, special issue of the Journal of Architecture (2007), two anthologies that explore how knowledge about hygiene, and beliefs about dirt, have influenced the production of cities, architecture and space.

I am co-editor of Urban Pamphleteer (2013-), a peer-reviewed pamphlet publication. I previously served as Deputy Editor on the editorial board of CITY: analysis of urban trends, theory, policy, action (2001-2006). I am a member of the Urban Lab+ International Network of Urban Laboratories, Erasmus Mundus Action 3 Programme Steering Committee (2013-). I am Principal Investigator on two Leverhulme Trust Artist Residencies with the photographic artists Max Colson (2014-) and Rab Harling (2013-14). In 2004 I was co-recipient of an RIBA Research Trust Modern Architecture and Town Planning award. I previously acted as an advisor to the Centre for Education in the Built Environment’s Special Interest Group on Diversity in Architectural Education (2004-2006). 

I have given talks and conference papers at a wide range of UK and international institutions. Recent examples include Central European University, Budapest; Architekturforum Aedes, Berlin; La Casa Encendida, Madrid; TU Berlin, Urban Lab+ programme; the International Forum on Doctoral Education in Europe, ENHSA, Riga, Latvia; University of Nicosia, Cyprus; Penn State University, USA; Harvard Graduate School of Design, USA; the Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, USA; the Society of Architectural Historians, Pittsburgh, USA; and the University of Cape Town, Republic of South Africa, School of Architecture. I regularly give talks at London universities and in public venues such as the Folkestone Triennial (2014); Zabludowicz Collection (2012); Camden Arts Centre (2012); Freeword Centre (2012); Future of London (2012); the Building Centre (2009); the Architecture Foundation (2009); and the Royal Academy of Arts London (2007).

Research Summary

My research interests are wide-ranging and I have recently published essays, for example, on the theoretical work of the anthropologist Mary Douglas, the photography of Stephen Gill, the architecture of David Adjaye, Google Street View and its place in the history of urban survey photography and the history of bedbug infestation and control.

In 2013, I published a well-received history of regeneration,  Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture (I.B. Tauris). This book was commended in the Royal Institute of British Architects President’s Awards for Research (2013) and won the Urban Communication Foundation’s Jane Jacobs Award (2014).

Remaking London was noted for being a ‘thoughtful and timely… and invaluable text’, a ‘romp through time and space’ (Building Design), ‘lucid and stimulating’, ‘well-researched and important’ (David Madden, LSE Review of Books), ‘engaging and powerful…a beautifully crafted book’ (Geographical), ‘fascinating’, ‘meticulous’ and written in a style that ‘echoes Walter Benjamin’s flaneur wandering through the city’ (Paul Watt, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research); ‘beautifully written… a powerful critique’ and ‘refreshingly ‘un-academic’ in tone’ (Urban Times); a challenge to 'crude mischaracterisations of so-called “sink” estates and neighbourhoods and the people who live in them’ which ‘takes a hard look at the counterproductive, top-down, plain bad attitudes that often lurk beneath the “regeneration” banner' (Guardian); '...a must-read for anyone interested in London's urban development' (Londonist); ‘enjoyable’ and with a ‘style that has much in common with the genre of writing found in books on London by authors like Anna Minton and  Patrick Wright’, and ‘an impelling and fertile account of the idiosyncrasies, contradictions and perversions of decline and urban regeneration in London (Professor Loretta Lees, Progress in Human Geography); and as 'One of the most readable and accessible accounts of urban change I have ever encountered, offering a stimulating and richly-illustrated account which deserves to be read by those studying contemporary urban gentrification and regeneration as much as by planning and architectural historians' (Professor Phil Hubbard, Journal of Historical Geography).

Collaborative research projects include:

Urban Pamphleteer, a series of pamphlets co-founded and co-edited with Dr Rebecca Ross, Central Saint Martins, funded by UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities and UCL Urban Laboratory: http://www.urbanpamphleteer.org

Picturing Place (with graphic designer Rebecca Ross and architectural historian Mariana Mogilevich), a project to  develop a methodology for the critical examination of the agency of images and image-production in processes of urban change: http://picturingplace.net/ 

qUCL, UCL's LGBTQ Research Network http://www.ucl.ac.uk/lgbtq-research

Teaching Summary

I was appointed as Lecturer in Architectural History and Theory in the Bartlett School of Architecture in 2005 (part-time), made full-time in 2008 and promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2012.

In the Bartlett I currently teach architectural history and theory on the BSc Architecture, MArch Architecture (thesis), MA Architectural History, MPhil/PhD Architecture (History & Theory) and the MPhil/PhD Architecture (Design) programmes, and I regularly contribute to design modules as an invited critic. I coordinate the BSc Year 3 course, History and Theory of Architecture. I am also co-convener of the inter-faculty UCL Urban Laboratory MSc Urban Studies programme. In 2010-11 I was Acting Director of the BSc Architectural Studies programme and course coordinator for the module ‘Dissertation in Architectural Studies’.

I mentor funded RIBA, Leverhulme, UCL and Bartlett postdoctoral researchers and artists working on urban visual culture, regeneration, housing. My PhD students - many of whom are sponsored by government and other scholarships - conduct research into a wide range of areas, including queer space and domesticity in London, the visual representation of former socialist public spaces in Berlin, the history of London Fashion Week as an urban event, the history and theorization of architectural heritage, place identity and public participation in processes of urban change in London and Lisbon, urban voids and wastelands in Santiago and London, capoeira and Invisible Theatre as spatial practices in Brazil, and the ways that new mobile digital technologies influence the city and participation in public space in Puerto Rico and London.

My students have regularly won the BSc Architecture History and Theory prize: Bethany Wells, 2007; Luke Jones, 2008; Joel Cady, 2009; Nick Blomstrand, 2010; Arub Saqib, 2011; Jonathan Holmes, 2011. Many have also gone on to publish their dissertations in publications such as Critical Cities, Opticon 1826, and Bartlett Designs.

Modules I have recently taught or contributed to include:

MA Architectural History:

BENVGAH Report (2008-)

BENVGAH5 Critical Methodologies of Architectural History (2009-)

BENVGAH1 Architecture in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Britain (2008/9)

ENVSGH04 The Representation of Cities (2006-)

MSc Urban Studies, UCL Urban Laboratory

URBNGO02: Urban Imaginations (2008-)

London: Aspects of Change (2012-)

BSc Architectural Studies:

ENVS 2011/3020 Dissertation in Architectural Studies (2010-11)

ENVS 2037/ENVS 3020 Dissertation in Architectural Studies (2010-11)

BSc Architecture:

ENVS3021 Architectural History & Theory, Module coordinator (2013-)

ENVS2034 Architectural History & Theory, Architexts, Seminar Leader (2002-)

ENVS1000 The Cultural and Historical Development of Cities & Their Architecture, Course Tutor (2002-)

ENVS3021 Architectural History & Theory, Ruins and Recyclings, Seminar Leader (2002-2011)

Between 2002 and 2005 I was a Teaching Fellow in Architectural History and Theory. 

Between 2001 and 2006 I held part-time visiting lecturer/tutor positions at UCL Department of Geography, Birkbeck Faculty of Continuing Education London Studies Programme, University of Brighton School of Architecture, University of Cape Town School of Architecture and Planning, and Middlesex University, Visual Culture.

2017 MPhil/PhD Architectural History and Theory Director Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, United Kingdom
2012 Senior Lecturer Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, United Kingdom
2011 – 2012 Associate Director, Architectural Research Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, United Kingdom
2011 Director Urban Laboratory UCL, United Kingdom
2009 – 2011 Co-Director Urban Laboratory UCL, United Kingdom
2008 – 2012 Lecturer in Architectural History and Theory Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, United Kingdom
2005 – 2007 Architectural Research Associate Bartlett School of Architecture Bartlett School of Architecture, United Kingdom
2004 – 2005 Personal Tutor Geography UCL, United Kingdom
2003 – 2005 Visiting Lecturer School of Architecture and Design University of Brighton, United Kingdom
2003 – 2005 Guest Lecturer School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics University of Cape Town, South Africa
2002 – 2005 College Teacher (Teaching Fellow) Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, United Kingdom
2001 – 2004 Visiting Lecturer Visual Culture and Media Middlesex University, United Kingdom
1999 – 2001 Postgraduate Teaching Assitant Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, United Kingdom
Academic Background
2009 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Architecture and Urbanism University College London
2001 MSc Master of Science – Architecture History and Theory University College London
1997 BA Bachelor of Arts – Archaeology and History of Art University College London
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