School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Martin Beattie

Senior Lecturer in Architecture



I initially trained and practiced as an architect, combining practice with teaching architecture from 1996, before being appointed as a full-time lecturer in architecture, in 2001. I was promoted to senior lecturer in 2010.

Ever since first travelling to India in the early 1990s, I have been interested in 'colonial exchanges' or meetings between 'east' and 'west.' I am committed to a comparative, heterogeneous approach to histories of art and architecture, and making connections between Avant-guard movements in India and Europe.

Roles and Responsibilities

Stage 1 year coordinator and module leader for stage 1 architectural design (2011/12 to date)

Director of post-graduate taught courses (2011/12 - 2014/15)

Acting Director of Architecture (2009/10)
BArch DPD and Admissions Tutor (2006/07-2008/09)
Module leader, stage 5 architectural design (2006/07-2008/09)
Module leader, stage 2 architectural design (2002/03-2005/06)
Module leader, stage 3 building construction (2002/03-2008/09)


PhD in Architecture, Newcastle University (2005)
MA in Architecture and Critical Theory, Nottingham University (1997)
RIBA Certificate of Professional Practice, Newcastle University (1991)
BArch (Hons.) First Class, Newcastle University (1990)
RIBA Presidents Silver Medal Nomination (1990)
BA (Hons.) in Architectural Studies, Newcastle University (1987)

Previous Positions

Self-employed architect, Newcastle (1999-2001)
Project architect, Alan J. Smith Partnership, Newcastle (1996-1998)
Project architect, Nottingham City Council (1995-1996)
Project architect, Alan J. Smith Partnership, Newcastle (1993-1995)
Graduate architect, John Potter Architect, Newcastle (1991-1992)
Graduate architect, FalknerBrowns, Newcastle (1990-1991)
Architectural assistant, Ellis Williams Partnership, Liverpool (1987-1988)


International Association for People-Environment Studies

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy


Research Interests

Essentially my research looks at the way cultures mix (or not as the case may be) and how that process manifests itself in architecture. Between 1999 and 2005, I spent much time in Kolkata, India, researching for my PhD, which used Homi K. Bhabha’s notion of hybridity as an interpretive tool on specific architectural sites of cultural dialogue in Kolkata.

My research in cultural hybridity, by its nature, involves multi-focussed, interdisciplinary, comparative work, and is focussed on open-ended analysis of cultural interaction. I have worked in areas such as anthropology, sociology, art, literature, and philosophy. Research methodology for my PhD combined traditional architectural techniques like measured surveys and photography, with more ethnographic methods like participant observation, and semi-structures interviews.

Overlapping areas of research interest:

  • Ideas of (colonial) sovereignty
  • Mikhail Bakhtin, Homi Bhabha and hybrid space
  • Ideas of "east/west" and "primitive/ modern"
  • Decentered/ coeval/ heterogeneous modernities
  • Translation
  • Fictional histories, or factual story telling
  • The politics of disregard, self-deception, forgetting, anxiety, panic etc.

Current Projects

The 14th Annual Indian Society of Oriental Art Exhibition and the Bauhaus, Kolkata, India, 1922

I am currently working on an article about an exhibition organised by the Indian Society of Oriental Art in Kolkata, during 1922, which involved artists from the Bauhaus, in Germany. The exhibition included 241 artworks by a diverse group of over 60 nationally and internationally known Indian artists, but also uniquely included 177 artworks by artists from the Bauhaus, in Germany. The article explores cross-cultural dialogues generated by the exhibition between Bengali and Bauhaus artists of the time.

The Letters and Architectural Writings of John Stapylton Grey Pemberton from Sri Lanka and India

I am also writing about the entangled meanings of place, travel and empire in late nineteenth century India, through the "published" and family letters of John Stapylton Grey Pemberton (1861-1940). Pemberton published eight letters, possibly for the Yorkshire Post, covering his travels through Sri Lanka and southern India, a one month period from the beginning of December 1886 until the beginning of January 1887. Between November 1886 and March 1887, Pemberton also wrote seven letters to his father, Richard Lawrence Pemberton (1831-1901), who was living in Seaham harbour, County Durham, in the North East of England. The family letters form part of a larger collection of forty nine, written whilst on an 18-month world trip, which also took in South East Asia, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Japan and Canada.

Gordon Cullen's Passage to India

The urban designer Gordon Cullen's favourite novel was E.M. Forster's A Passage to India (1924). The book is firmly rooted in the historical context of British Empire and colonised India. Cullen spent two periods in post-independence India, working on two planning reports for the American Ford Foundation in Delhi (1959) and Kolkata (1962-3). Cullen wrote the introduction to his seminal book, Townscape (1961), whilst working in Delhi. Cullen's work in both Delhi and Kolkata draws on ideas from Townscape. I argue that some of the main themes of Forster's Passage to India overlap with some of Cullen's own ideas from Townscape, and in particular his work in India.

Future Projects

Cultural Entanglements

I am interested in developing a book proposal on 'cultural entanglements,' mapping and comparing the linkages and spread of modernism between European and Indian avant-gardes, through its art and architecture. Specific projects include:   The environmentalism and educational ideas of Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali poet, novelist, and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature and Sir Patrick Geddes, the Scottish town planner, focusing on their letters, texts and collaboration at Visva Bharati, an international university established by Tagore, at Santinkitan, West Bengal, India, during the early 1920’s;   The Garden Theatre and Lighthouse Cinema, Calcutta, built in 1936, by the Dutch modernist architect Willem Marinus Dudok;   Gordon Cullen’s work for the Ford Foundation in India.

Esteem Indicators

Referee for article submissions to Architecture Research Quarterly (Cambridge Journals)

Invited speak at Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, to launch the book, Narratives Unfolding: National Art Histories in an Unfinished World - November 2017


Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH UK Trust) 2000
British Academy Grant 2007

Other Expertise

Registered architect


Post graduate Teaching

Director of postgraduate taught programmes

Degree Programme Director for MA Architecture Planning and Landscape

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome PhD and MPhil applicants and would be delighted to discuss projects related to my research.

I am currently acting as supervisor on the following PhD projects:

Xi Chen, "Public Space Making in Wenzhou, China" (2014-date)

Under my supervision, the following students have successfully completed their PhD:

Lin Li, "Identity of Urban Spaces in the Changing context of Chinese cities with reference to Shanghai" (2010)

Rittirong Chutapruttikorn, "The Application of Vernacular Knowledge to Housing Design in Thailand" (2011)

Oluwafemi Olajide, "Spatial Analysis of Urban Poverty,  Security of Tenure, Informal Settlements, and Housing Conditions in Lagos Metropolis."

Mabrouk Alsheliby, "The Impact of Socio-economic factors on Urban Identity of the Saudi City Centre. A Case Study: Tabuk city centre." (2015)

Oluwatoyin Akin, "Community Participation and Infrastructure Development: A Case Study of Akure City, Nigeria" (2016)

I have acted as an internal examiner on the following PhDs:

Lena Garnesh, "Gender and Spatial Mobility: Zenana, Zoom-out and the Spaces in Between" (2008)

Sumayah al-Solaiman, "The Architectural Discourse of Riyadh: An Interpretive Historical Reading of its Contemporary Architecture" (2010)

I have acted as an external examiner on the following PhDs:

Mark Mukherjee Campbell, "Kolkata: Migrancy, Hybridity, and Dwelling," University of Strathclyde (2015)