School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Nathaniel Coleman

Reader in History & Theory of Architecture



All too often, architecture is conceptualised as either a problem of style alone, only a technical problem or as simply a consumer object. While architecture may be made of all three, it is much more besides. It is the richness of architecture, particularly its social dimension and the possibilities of form as content, that most interest me. Architecture, as far as I see it, comprises rooms in one direction and cities and land in the other, while of course including buildings as well. Architecture is made up of the multitude of problems that define it, including theory, practice, form, function, and meaning; and of course building technologies and material assemblies as well, not to mention economics. However, it seems to me that the social dimension of architecture is too easily neglected, which is precisely why Utopia is of such interest to me.


PhD, University of Pennsylvania; MSc in Architecture, University of Pennsylvania; Master of Urban Planning, City College of New York Program in Urban Design; Bachelor of Architecture, Rhode Island School of Design; Bachelor of Fine Arts, Rhode Island School of Design. Architectural Practice in New York City and Rome Italy, including with the Firms of Eisenman/Robertson and Hardy Holzman Pfieffer.


Doctor of Philoisophy in Architecture
Master of Science in Architecture
Master of Urban Planning (Program in Urban Design)
Bachelor of Architecture
Bachelor of Fine Arts
New York State Licensed Architecture

Previous Positions

Washington State Univerrsity
Boston Architectural College
Northeastern University
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Philadelphia University
University of Pennsylvania
University of Washington Rome Center


Utopian Studies Society (Europe)
SUS (Society for Utopian Studies, USA)
SAH (Society of Architectural Historian, USA)
SAHGB (Society of Architectural Historian, Great Britain)

Honours and Awards

British Academy Scholar, 2003, 2004 and 2007
Graham Foundation Grant Recipient, 2004
School Research Committee Funding, 2003 - 2011
Faculty Arts and Humanities Research Fund Award,2003





Research Roles

As the bulk of my research is humanities based in a fairly traditional sense. To date, I have been the principal investigator on all of my projects. As a result, I have also been the sole author of each of my outputs. Nevertheless, I am now looking to develop a number of more collaborative projects that could effectively draw upon the interdisciplinary nature of my research, as well as the international network of utopian studies scholars I've been developing.

Postgraduate Supervision

I welcome inquiries from prospective doctoral students interested in reearching a PhD on topics related to the fields of Utopia and Architecture; the History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture; and Design Pedagogy. The following related topics are also of interest: Meaning and Architecture; Architecture and Society; the Social Dimension of Architecture; Architecture and the City; and the (Im)Possibility of Architecture.

Research Interests

Problematic of Architecture and Utopia                                                                                                         Utopian Theories and Practices
Design Theories and Methodologies
Social Dimensions of Architecture
Architectural History, Theory and Criticism
Experiencing Architecture

Other Expertise

Urban Design
Fine Arts
Design Pedagogy
Ethics and Aesthetics

Current Work

After having recently published the edited book,Imagining and Making the World: reconsidering architecture and utopia, Ralahine Utopian Studies Volume Eight (Peter Lang, 2011), and submitting an article on Lefebvre and Utopia for publication, as well as sending several more articles out for review, I am currently working on an article considering the problematic of interpretation for architecture and and a chapter on the Dutch architect Aldo van Eyck, I am also working on Lefebvre for Architects (anticipated 2014), as part of the Routledge series, Thinkers for Architects. In addition to these projects, I am also working on a proposal for a subsequent book on material thinking in architecture. Additionally, I have been invited to lead a working group on Architecture and Utopia associated with both the North American Society for Utopian Studies and the European Utopian Studies Society, ideally leading to an International Research Network. The invitation to lead this working group is further confirmation of my international standing within the field of Utopian Studies as one of the key researchers working on Utopia and architecture, which my edited book Imagining and Making the World: reconsidering architecture and utopia, and my individually authored book Utopias and Architecture (Routledge, UK, 2005) have contributed to establishing.

Future Research

I have been working on high-value research grant proposals for submission to the Research Councils or other funding bodies over the last couple of years, and will continue doing so. Longer term plans for future research include completing 2-3 further journal articles during the next year, and developing on my ongoing work on architecture and utopia.

Esteem Indicators

  • This coming October 2011, I lead a Masterclass on Architecture and Utopia at the North American Society for Utopian Studies Annual Conference.
  • At the same conference, I acted as respondent to a roundtable panel organised around my recently published edited book, Imagining and Making the World, reconsidering architecture and Utopia.
  • During the same period, I presented a public lecture on the topic of Architecture and Utopia at Penn State University, in State College PA, where the conference was held. 
  • In July 2011, I was respondent to a roundtable panel organised around my recently published edited book, Imagining and Making the World, reconsidering architecture and Utopia at the European Utopian Studies Society annual conference.           
  • Invited presenter at Design Event Presents PechaKucha Volume 6, in assoication with Northern Architecture and NEPA (09 June 2011).         
  • Invited Participant / Speaker at the final seminar of the ESRC Seminar Series: Practical Utopias and Utopian Practices, dedicated to Space (24 March 2009)
  • Book proposal referee for Routledge, UK
  • Over the past several years I have refereed article submissions for the following journals: International Journal of Art  & Design Education, ARQ, CITIES, Surveillance & Society, Landscape Research, and Planning Theory.
  • Peer Reviewer of AHRC Small Grants scheme
  • Three time British Academy Grant Holder
  • Graham Foundation Grant holder.


British Academy
British Academy
British Academy
British Academy
Graham Foundation
School Research Committee
School Research Committee

Industrial Relevance

Areas of research and outputs have direct relevance to the design and realisation of a higher quality more humane built environment, at the scale of the room, building and city.


Architecture and Utopia                                                                                                                          Architecture and the City
Architecture and Urban Design
History, Theory and Practise of Architecture
Place Making
Sustainable Communities
Utopia and Architectural Invention


Undergraduate Teaching

BA Dissertation Supervisor
BA, ARC2011: 20th Century Architecture

Postgraduate Teaching

Degree Programme Director MA in Architecture, Planning and Landscape-Design                                             MPhil Supervisor
PhD Supervisor                                                                                                                                          MAAPL-D Architecture, Design
MARCH, Sage 5 Design                                                                                                                                MAUD, ARC8040: Contemporary Issues in Urban Design