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Architectural Theory and History

Developing architectural theory and understanding history

We are a group of emerging and established scholars in the architectural humanities that explores a wide range of topics and problems in contemporary architectural theory and architectural history. 

The academic activities of this large group are focused around four broad areas:

  • architectural theory, and the consideration of the the nature and functions of knowledge in architecture
  • Asian architecture and urbanism, with an emphasis on the flows of architectural forms and ideas across Asia
  • the architectural consequences of postmodern culture
  • the characteristics of modern (especially 20th century) architecture. 

We use methods drawn from both the humanities and design. Through regular seminars, workshops and discussions we provide opportunities for scholarly exchange, development and doctoral training in these fields.

Distance Looks Back

In July 2019 Professor Andrew Leach and Associate Professor Lee Stickells will convene a joint meeting of the European Architectural History Network (EAHN) and the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ) at the University of Sydney. This will be the first time these two organisations have cooperated in staging an academic meeting, and it promises to be a lively and illuminating event. Find out more.


Current funded projects

Funding source: 2018, Harvard/Villa I Tatti

Researcher: Professor Andrew Leach

This project concerns the literature and sources for the mid-20th century construction of architectural mannerism and mannerism’s part in the mid-century emergence of architectural history as a distinct field of inquiry. The research will investigate writing on architectural mannerism up to 1950, including Colin Rowe’s influential essay, Mannerism and Modern Architecture, on which later works, such as Bruno Zevi’s treatment of Michelangiolo architetto (1964) and Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (1966), rely. The project aims to consider how mannerism has been understood within the history of modern architectural culture and will reflect on the disciplinary implications of the study of mannerism for architectural history.

Funding source: 2017–18, Social Science Research Council

Researcher: Dr Jennifer Ferng

This project poses the question: how can we understand offshore detention centres against the context of humanitarian ethics and the architect’s mandate of building humane shelter, which has been compromised by border politics? The global detention industrial complex, with its prefabricated buildings, conflicts with the architect’s duties of creating accessible shelter, and demonstrates how offshore processing sites are problematic for humanitarian ethics. The research aims to answer this question, using the history of architecture and the built environment to shed light on contemporary political situations in Oceania and Southeast Asia; specifically the Pacific Solution and Operation Sovereign Borders. It also aims to offer commentary about the interventions of Western countries, such as Australia, in the economic and political regimes of poorer countries like Papua New Guinea, Nauru, and Cambodia.

Funding source: 2016–19, Australian Research Council

Researchers: Dr Andrew Saniga, Professor Philip Goad, Associate Professor Hannah Lewi (University of Melbourne), Professor Robert Freestone (UNSW), Dr Cameron Logan, Dr Susan Holden (UQ) and Associate Professor Christine Garnaut (UniSA)

This interdisciplinary project aims to examine the post-World War Two evolution of the modern university campus and its application for innovative solutions in urban planning, architecture and landscape.

Researchers have identified campuses as important catalysts for urban thinking in the 20th century. We are working on developing strategies for the conservation and adaptation of campuses to meet future needs in the tertiary sector. This includes digital visualisation and detailed case studies to reveal both the physical impacts and the political, institutional, social and cultural resonance of educational expansion.

Funding source: 2017, State Library of New South Wales

Researcher: Associate Professor Lee Stickells

This project aims to explore interactions between architecture and the counterculture of the 1960s and 70s, which proposed revolutionary and alternative ways to live, work and love. It will highlight the ways in which alternative communities in Northern New South Wales forged sustainable living during the 70s, where, beyond shelter, building was a means to materialise ideals of communal living, ecological harmony, independence from the state, individual creative expression and alternative economies. The project will extend and enrich historical understanding of the Australian counterculture and will reflect on experiments in sustainable design and living for self-sufficiency and low environmental impact; ideas that still resonate today.  

Funding source: 2013–16, Australian Research Council

Researchers: Professor Sandra Kaji-O'Grady (UQ) and Associate Professor Chris L. Smith

This project aims to explore the role of architecture in configuring, influencing and expressing the ideas and ideals of contemporary experimental science. The project has established a novel methodology that combines critical and theoretical tools with analysis of three-dimensional graphics to enable exploration of the architecture of biomedical sciences.

The project has thus far produced the journal article Exaptive Translations between Biology and Architecture in ARQ: Architectural Research Quarterly, 18(2), as well as two book chapters, 'Amorphous Continua' in Andrej Radman and Heidi Sohn’s edited volume Critical and Clinical Cartographies: Architecture, Robotics, Medicine, Philosophy published by Edinburgh University Press and 'Laboratory architecture and the deep membrane of science' in Katie Lloyd Thomas, Tilo Amhoff and Nick Beech’s edited volume Industries of Architecture, published by Routledge.

Funding source: 2012–16, Australian Research Council

Researcher: Professor Andrew Leach

This recently completed project reviewed the rapid growth of the Gold Coast since the 1960s, the forces that shaped it, the diminishing status of architectural ideas in the city, and the absence of architectural theory within that rapid growth. Two major books will result from this research: an architectural history of a city that appears to set architecture aside, and an intellectual history of architectural theory since the 1960s. It has resulted in a number of new publications on the subject, including the report GC30+, the edited volume Off the Plan (CSIRO, 2016) and the forthcoming volume Gold Coast: City and Architecture (Lund Humphries, 2018).

Our researchers


  • Weir, S. (2018). Salvador Dali's Interiors with Heraclitus's Concealment. In Gregory Marinic (Eds.), The Interior Architecture Theory Reader, (pp. 195-201). New York: Routledge.
  • Ross Anderson, 'The Appian Way', AA Files 75 (December 2017): 63-82.
  • Smith, C. (2017). Bodies without Organs and Cities without Architecture. In Constantin V. Boundas and Vana Tentokali (Eds.), Architectural and Urban Reflecitons After Deleuze and Guattari, (pp. 83-102). London and New York: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Logan, C. (2017). Historic Capital: Preservation, Race, and Real Estate in Washington D.C. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Leach, A (2017). Crisis on Crisis or Tafuri on Mannerism. Basel: Standpunkte.
  • Chris L. Smith, Bare Architecture: a schizoanalysis, (London: Bloomsbury, 2017)
  • Anderson, R. (2017). Raised on the Dark Grounds of Tradition: Albert Speer's Atelierhaus at Berchtesgaden, 1938. Scroope: Cambridge architecture journal, 26(July 2017), 10-18.
  • Tawa, M. (2017). Consilient Discrepancy: Porosity and Atmosphere in Cinema and Architecture. Architecture_MPS, 11(3)
  • Andrew Leach, Rome (Cambridge: Polity, 2016).
  • Chris L. Smith, (2017). ‘Amorphous Continua’ in Critical and Clinical Cartographies: Architecture, Robotics, Medicine, Philosophy, Andrej Radman and Heidi Sohn eds., (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017).
  • Thorpe, A., Moore, T., Stickells, L. (2017). Pop-up Justice? Reflecting on Relationships in the Temporary City. In John Henneberry (Eds.), Transience and Permanence in Urban Development, (pp. 151-166). United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Gusheh, M., Lassen, C. (2017). Marie Short House: Glenn Murcutt. In David Leatherbarrow and Alexander Eisenschmidt (Eds.), The Companions to the History of Architecture, (pp. 575-584). Online: Wiley.
  • Weir, S. (2017). On the origin of the architect: Architects and xenia in the ancient Greek theatre. Interstices: Journal of Architecture & Related Arts, 17: Return to Origin, 9-15.
  • Matthew Mindrup, 'Strange Tales of Architectural Evolution' in: Paul Emmons, Marcia Feuerstein, and Carolina Dayer, eds., Confabulations: Storytelling in Architecture (London: Routledge, 2017).
  • Chakma, K., Hill, G. (2016). For Sister or State? Nationalism and the Indigenous and Bengali Women's Movements in Bangladesh. In Elora Halim Chowdhury and Liz Philipose (Eds.), Dissident Friendships: Feminism, Imperialism and Transnational Solidarity, (pp. 91-116). Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press.
  • Chris L. Smith, ‘The Libidinal Economy of Architecture: Skin, Membrane, and Other Surfaces of Desire’, in Stephen Kite, Mhairi McVicar, Juliet Odgers eds., Economy and Architecture, (London: Routledge, 2016), 108-117.
  • Kabita Chakma and Glen Hill, Politics of the Orphans of War: 72 Children’s Journey from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh to the Suburbs of France, in Children and Violence: Politics of Conflict in South Asia, ed. Bina D’Costa, Cambridge University Press, 2016.
  • Sandra Karina Löschke ed., Materiality and Architecture, (London: Routledge, 2016).
  • Reinhardt, D., Burry, J., Saunders, R. (2016). Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art and Design 2016. Vienna: Springer International Publishing Switzerland.
  • Ferng, J. (2016). Monstrosity and Excess in Jean-Jacques Lequeu’s Visionary Architecture. Fabrications, 26(1), 4-26.
  • Jennifer Ferng, ‘Evidentiary Earthquakes: Design and Discontinuity through Seismic Methods’ in Leonardo: Journal of the International Society for Arts, Sciences, and Technology (2016), available online.
  • Jennifer Ferng, ‘Criminality and Public Opinion: Architectural Reformation among Parisian Prisons, 1778-1799,’ in European Architectural History Network Proceedings (2016), University College Dublin, 415-423.
  • 2016 Chris L. Smith and Sandra Kaji O’Grady, ‘Laboratory Architecture and the Deep Skin of Science’, in Industries of Architecture, Katie Lloyd Thomas, Nick Beech, Tilo Amhoff, eds., Critique series, (London: Routledge, 2015), 282-293.
  • Lassen, C. (2016). Making New: Heritage Conservation and Contemporary Expression. In Judith OCallaghan, Paul Hogben and Robert Freestone (Eds.), Sydney's Martin Place: A cultural and design history. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.
  • Smith, C., ‘Photographs and Architectural Wounds: Teufelsberg. In Architecture and Culture’ in Architecture and Culture (2016), 4(2), 185-192.
  • Caryl Bosman, Aysin Dedekorkut-Howes & Andrew Leach, eds, Off the Plan: The Urbanisation of the Gold Coast (Melbourne: CSIRO Publishing, 2016).
  • Logan, C. (2016). Open shut them: open classrooms in Australian schools, 1967-1983. In Kate Darian-Smith and Julie Willis (Eds.), Designing Schools: Space, place and pedagogy, (pp. 113-131). London and New York: Routledge.
  • Anderson, R. (2016). Adolphe Appia and the Eurhythmic Promise of Hellerau. In Claudia Perren, Bauhaus Dessau Foundation (Eds.), Bauhaus No8: Movement, (pp. 94-99). Leipzig: Spector Books.
  • David Ellison & Andrew Leach, eds, On Discomfort: Moments in a Modern History of Architectural Culture (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016).
  • Lee Stickells (2015) 'Negotiating Off-Grid: Counterculture, Conflict and Autonomous Architecture in Australia’s Rainbow Region', Fabrications, 25:1, 104-129
  • Bruno Taut, The City Crown, trans by M. Mindrup and U. Altenmüller-Lewis (London: Routledge, 2015).
  • Matthew Mindrup ed., The Material Imagination: Reveries on Architecture and Matter (London: Routledge, 2015).
  • Sandra Karina Löschke, ‘Participatory Aesthetics: Alexander Dorner’s Reorganization of the Provinzialmuseum Hannover (1923–1926)’, in Martino Stierli, Mechtild Widrich (eds.), Participation in Art and Architecture: Spaces of Participation and Occupation (London: I.B.Tauris, 2015), 227-259.
  • Simon Weir, 'Xenia in Vitruvius’ Greek house: andron, ξείνία and xenia from Homer to Augustus' in The Journal of Architecture. Royal Institute of British Architects, (20/5, 2015.)
  • Jennifer Ferng, ‘Earthly Revelations,’ special issue of Architectural Theory Review 20.1 (2015), Terra Firma, 1-6.
  • Chris L. Smith, ‘Hopeful: Biology, Architectural Design and Philosophy’ in Elizabeth Grierson, Harriet Edquist and Hélène Frichot eds., De-Signing Design: Cartographies of Theory and Practice, (MA: Lexington Press, [2015]): 73-81.
  • Chris L. Smith, ‘An Architecture Below Perception’ in Miriam Mlecek and Claudia Perren eds, Perception in Architecture: Here and Now, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015), 30-37. ISBN: 978-1-4438-7256-0.
  • Kaji-O’Grady, S. and Chris L. Smith, ‘Unquiet darkness: Institutions, Information and Impressive Hauteur’, Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 32 Architecture, Institution and Change, edited by Paul Hogben and Judith O’Callaghan, Sydney, 7-10 July, 2015, (SAHANZ, 2015): 290-299.
  • Tawa, Michael. (2015). `Mortarium: a provisional lexicon for masonry’, in Ringer, Ron (ed.). Materiality: Brick and Block in Contemporary Australian Architecture. Horsley Park: Dry Press Publishing, 540-553.
  • Duanfang Lu (2015) “The Work Unit and the Foxconn: A Comparative Perspective”, in Filippo De Pieri (ed) Beijing Danwei: Industrial Heritage in the Contemporary City, Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, pp. 36-55.
  • Ross Anderson. “All of Paris, Darkly: Le Corbusier’s Beistegui Apartment, 1929-1931”, in Proceedings of the Le Corbusier 50 Year Later Conference, ed. Jorge Torres Cueco (Valencia, Spain: 2015)
  • Ross Anderson, 'Making the Cathedral Immanent: German Architecture and the Question of Institutional Order.' In Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 32, Architecture, Institutions and Change, ed. Paul Hogben and Judith O’Callaghan, 19-28. Sydney: SAHANZ, 2015.
  • Logan, C. (2015). The National Trust and the Heritage of Sydney Harbour. Landscape Review (Online), 16(1), 63-75
  • Andrew Leach, Katherine Rickard & Finn Jones, GC30+ Documenting the Gold Coast Architecture Awards, 1984-2013, URP Research Monographs 15 (Nathan, Qld.: Griffith University Urban Research Program, 2015).
  • Andrew Leach, Mimarlık Tarihi Nedir? trans. Hayrullah Doğan (Koç: Koç University Press, 2015).
  • Andrew Leach, John Macarthur & Maarten Delbeke, eds, The Baroque in Architectural Culture, 1880-1980 (Farnham: Ashgate; Aldershot: Routledge, 2015).
  • Glen Hill, Poetic Measures of Architecture: Martin Heidegger’s ‘Poetically Man Dwells…’, Architectural Research Quarterly, volume 18, number 2, 2014.
  • Lee Stickells, 'Designing Way Out: Shay Gap and the ‘living laboratory’ of the 1970s', in Philip Goldswain, Nicole Sully and William Taylor (Eds), Out of Place (Gwalia) (Nedlands, University of Western Australia Publishing: 2014)
  • Reinhardt, D., Cabrera, D., Niemela, M., Ulacco, G., Jung, A. (2014). TriVoc: Robotic Manufacturing for Affecting Sound Through Complex Curved Geometries. In Wes McGee, Monica Ponce de Leon (Eds.), Robotic Fabrication in Architecture, Art and Design 2014, (pp. 163-180). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
  • Matthew Mindrup, 'Translations of Material to Technology in Bauhaus Architecture,' Wolkenkuckucksheim (Cloud-Cuckoo-Land) 19, no. 34 (2014)
  • Chris L. Smith and Sandra Kaji O’Grady, ‘Exaptive Translations between Biology and Architecture’, ARQ (18/2, 2014): 155-166.
  • Chris L. Smith and Mohd. Shahrudin Abd., ‘Skateboarding with Roland Barthes: Architecture, Myth and Evidence’, Journal for Cultural Research. (18/3, 2014): 203-215
  • Mohd. Shahrudin Abd and Chris L. Smith, ‘Text, textiles and techne: On the Barthesian myth of the T-shirt', Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture (12:2, 2014), 201-221.
  • Tawa, Michael. (2014) `Vaporous circumambience: towards an architectonics of atmosphere', in Interstices 15: Atmospheres and affects. Auckland: enigma: he aupiki, 2012.
  • Catherine Lassen, Drawn translations: toward and beyond Buhrich’s building. Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 31 (pp. 495-504). Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Ross Anderson, 'Figures of Mediation: Late Gothic Chapel Vaults Between Primordial Stone and Medieval Theology,' in Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 31, Translation, edited by Christoph Schnoor (Auckland, New Zealand: SAHANZ and Unitec ePress; and Gold Coast, Queensland: SAHANZ, 2014), 413–423.
  • Lassen, C., & Gusheh, M. (2014). Simpson-Lee House. In C. Bruhn, & K. Butler (Eds.), The Forever House: Time-Honoured Australian Homes (pp. 286-299). Port Melbourne: Thames & Hudson.
  • Lassen, C., & Gusheh, M. & (2014). Silver City Musuem. In P. Goad (Ed.), Augmented Australia: Regenerating Lost Architecture (pp. 74-77). Canberra, Australia: The Australian Institute of Architects.
  • Sandra Karina Löschke, Desley Luscombe (eds.), Immaterial Materialities, Interstices Journal of Architecure and Related Arts 14 (2013).
  • ‘Architectures, Critical and Clinical’ in Stephen Loo and Hélène Frichot eds. Deleuze and Architecture, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013), 230-44.
  • Smith Chris L., ‘Fit to Burst: Bodies, Organs and Complex Corporealities’, in Andy Dong, John Conomos and Brad Buckley eds. Ecologies of Invention, (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2013), 114-124.
  • Dagmar Reinhardt, Lian Loke (2013), ‘ GOLD (Monstrous Topographies) – Exploring Bodies in Complex Spatiality: Trespassing, Invading, Forging Body(ies), ii International Journal of Interior Architecture + Spatial Design, 'Corporeal Complexities', Spring 2013 issue II, ISBN978-0-9887643-2-3Atrium Press, pp54-62.
  • Reinhardt, D. (2013). 'SmartStructures Lab: eVolo Design Competition through Systems of Biomimicry', in: Sharif, Mohamed (2012), ‘Studioplex volume 1: Architecture, a timely matter’, UCLA University of California, Los Angeles, pp.258-265. ISBN:978-4-84617-061-1.
  • Duanfang Lu and Hongguang He (2013) 'The Transcultural Production of Space: Making ‘Little Shanghai’ in Sydney', in Jeff Hou (ed.) Transcultural Cities: Border-Crossing and Placemaking, New York: Routledge, pp. 91–103.
  • Duanfang Lu (2013) 'Ziyou yu duoyangxing: zuowei zhishi de wenhua yichang' [Freedom and Diverse: Cultural Heritage as Knowledge] (in Chinese), Wenhua yichan yanjiu [Cultural Heritage Studies], vol. 2, pp. 3–27.
  • Ross Anderson, 'A Room An Eye: Situated' in Claudia Perren and Sarah Breen Lovett, eds., Expanded Architecture at The Rocks (Berlin: Broken Dimanche Press, 2013): 90–94
  • Ross Anderson. 'Cadenced Horizons: Adolphe Appia’s Scenic Architecture', in Moved: On Atmospheres and Affects, 2013 Interstices Under Construction Symposium, The University of Auckland and AUT University, New Zealand: 2013.

  • Logan, C. (2013). Mrs. McCain's Parlor: House and Garden Tours and the Origins if the Inner City Restoration Trend in Washington, D.C, 1950-1970. Journal of Urban History, 39(5),956-974.                                                                                                               
  • Daniel James Ryan, ‘Les Schémas D'ensoleillement’ in Cloé Pitiot (ed), Eileen Gray Sous La Direction De Cloé Pitiot, (Paris: Editions Pompidou, 2013)
  • Daniel J. Ryan, 'The Hygienic Holiday: The Country Women's Association and the Reform of the Queensland House.' in OPEN: The 30th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand, edited by Alexandra Brown and Andrew Leach. Gold Coast, Qld: Griffith University, 2013.
  • Rizal Muslimin. Decoding Passura’ – Representing the Indigenous Visual Messages Underlying Traditional Icons with Descriptive Grammar. Open Systems: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Computer-Aided Architectural Design Research in Asia (CAADRIA 2013) / Singapore 15-18 May 2013, pp. 781-790.
  • Chris L. Smith and Andrew Ballantyne eds. Architecture in the Space of Flows, (London: Routledge, 2012).
  • Ross Anderson, 'The Talismanic Presence of Architecture and Ornament in Heidegger’s Hütte' in Benôit Jacquet and Vincent Giraud, eds., From the Things Themselves: Architecture and Phenomenology (Kyoto: Kyoto University Press, 2012): 127–154
  • Simon Weir, 'Paranoiac Critical Interiorisations: Odysseus in Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building and Buckminster Fuller’s domes' in IDEA Journal 2012, Interior Design/Interior Architecture Educators Association.
  • Reinhardt, D (ed.), (2012). Youtopia. A Passion for the Dark – Architecture at the Intersection of Digital Processes and Theatrical Performance (Auckland: Freerange Press, 2012), ISBN 978-0-9808689-1-3.
  • Tawa, Michael. (2012). 'Being (in the midst of) two’: Interstice and deconstitution in cinema and architecture, in Loo, Stephen and Douglas, Andrew (eds.), Technics, Memory and the Architecture of History, Interstices 13, 32-43.
  • Duanfang Lu (2012) 'Entangled Modernities in Architecture', in Greg Crysler, Stephen Cairns and Hilde Heynen (eds) The Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory, London: Sage, pp. 233–248.
  • Weir, S. (2012). Delirious Catalysis. Horizonte | Zeitschrift fur Architekturdiskurs (Journal of Architectural Discourse), Ausgabe 05 Fruhjahr 2012, (pp. 123 - 128). Weimar, Germany: Bauhaus-Universitat Weimar.
  • Muslimin, R. (2012). Recursive Embedding of Gestalt Laws and Shape Grammar. 30th International Conference of Education and research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe 2012, Prague: eCAADe (Education and Research in Computer Aided Architectural Design in Europe.


Professor Andrew Leach
Professor Andrew Leach
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