School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Stephen Parnell

Degree Programme Director, MArch

Background

I'm an architect, architectural critic and historian of post-war architecture.

I am interested in the sociology of the architectural profession and particularly the role that the media play in it. I also like computers. And concrete.

2012 was a good year:

My PhD, "Architectural Design 1954-1972: the contribution of the architectural magazine to the writing of architectural history", completed under Peter Blundell-Jones at Sheffield University, won the 2012 RIBA President's Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis.

I also exhibited "Architecture Magazines: Playgrounds and Battlegrounds" in the Padiglione Centrale of the 2012 Venice Biennale. This featured AD, AR, Casabella, and Domus magazines from the 1940s to the 1970s and an 11m long network of relationships of key individuals and institutions related to these London and Milanese magazines.

I am currently extending my PhD research to the Post-Modern years thanks to a RIBA Research Trust Award. A full critical history of AD magazine from 1930 to 1992 and its relationship to architectural culture, history and practice should one day be written from this research.

I regularly contribute to the architectural press and was shortlisted for the IBP's Architecture Writer of the Year in 2011 and 2012.

In a previous career, I designed and launched Navisworks.

Research

To date my research has mainly focused on architectural magazines and criticism. I am interested particularly in their role in the construction of architectural culture, history and practice since their emergence in the mid 19th century.

My current research interest is in concrete architecture and Brutalisms, especially the ethical dimension of the movement, and its manifold regional manifestations.

My future research will look at transhuman architecture and the Idea of Progress.

PhD Supervision

My current PhD student, Ruth Lang, is researching the London County Council Architects' Department, schools division (1943-1965).

I'd be very interested in supervising PhD students in the following areas:

  • The architectural press, whether British or international. In particular, there is a project to look at the history of The Architectural Press (publishers of the AR and AJ);
  • Brutalism beyond Britain (International Brutalisms);
  • The architectural profession during WW2 and the Ministry of Works;
  • The relationship between the architectural profession and London Clubs & Institutions;
  • Architectural Education after WW2;
  • Transhuman architecture and the Idea of Progress.




Teaching

I teach architectural history & theory and design, leading a stage 6 studio on Transhumanism, Science Fiction and the Idea of Progress.

Publications