School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Professor Andrew Ballantyne

Professor of Architecture


Andrew qualified and practised as an architect before taking up research, starting with a PhD on Richard Payne Knight and the theory of the picturesque. He has worked with archaeologists surveying a Byzantine settlement in Greece, and more recently on architectural theory.

Andrew is author and editor of several books. Architecture: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2002) has been translated into 23 languages including Chinese, Greek anf Hungarian. It is also available in an American edition with many more illustrations Brief Insights: Architecture (Sterling,2010). Key Buildings from Prehistory to the Present (Laurence King 2012) is avilable in English and Portuguese. Deleuze and Guattari for Architects (Routledge 2007) is available in English, Korean and Turkish, and will soon be available in French.

Andrew Ballantyne BA, MA, PhD, Dip Arch, RIBA

I am interested in the way we identify with and find form in complex things, including our selves and our surroundings. Our decisions about things always have an unconscious aspect to them, and I am interested in taking note of that, as the unconscious factors are often more important in our decision-making processes than are the carefully reasoned arguments that we use. If our arguments lead us to conclusions that we find unacceptable then we humans tend to discard them and choose others. 


My most recent book is on John Ruskin, who was a brilliant Victorian who made some very odd life-choices. He was the most revered critic of his age, and his insights into architecture were transformative. He saw good building as a process of good working rather than as a realization of fixed good forms. I think that this understanding came to him first through his study of geology studies. His intuitions about the formation of things as the result of slow but powerful forces seems to begin with geology, but it is there in his studies of buildings (especially The Stones of Venice) and in his attitudes to people and their education. He tried to do good things, and set up many benevolent enterprises. A concern for ethics runs through all his work. The Seven Lamps of Architecture was his way of making an ethical analysis of architecture, showing how different values pull us in different directions.

High-speed histories

I am also working on a general history of architecture, taking a series of narratives across the whole of human cultural development. That takes up some of the themes that are "between the lines" in the book  Key Buildings from Prehistory to the Present and tries to see some common impulses being addressed across wide spreads of time and culture. We share a great deal of DNA with animals, and some of our impulses are deeply embodied.

Deleuze and Guattari locate the origins of architecture in the territorial aspects of birdsong. If we look at things on the scale of geological time and evolutionary time, then human buildings look like a phenomenon of the very recent past, dating from the last few thousand years.


I am interested in supervising PhDs, so if you're interested do get in touch. 

Link to an interview about architecture and philosophy: 

Link to an interview about Thoreau's Walden:

Link to Chicago University Press information about the Ruskin book:

Presentation in Rotterdam, on Ruskin, Brutalism and Beatrix Potter:

I will be speaking here: