ARC434 London’s Built Environment

THE WAYS OF THE ARCHITECT: A History of London’s Built Environment and its Makers

The course presents a history of London’s built environment by examining the changing attitudes and practices of British architects from the mid-17th to the mid-20th century. It explores the ways in which London’s architectural culture was understood and produced through its architects’ diverse trainings, evolving modes of design and notions of style, built and theoretical work. It does so by identifying four pairs of architects and architectural thinkers and by thematically investigating their respective practices and conflicting professional perspectives: Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor; Robert Adam and William Chambers; William Morris and John Ruskin; Alison and Peter Smithson and Denys Lasdun. As such, the course pinpoints four paradigm-shifting moments in the production of London’s built environment, allowing at the same time for a comprehensive and continuous narrative of British architectural history, including the Palladian Revivals, late-18th century cultures of ruins and the Picturesque, the impact of industrialisation in the 19th century and post-war reconstructions.


Gregorio Astengo is an architect and architectural historian. He has been studying and working in Italy and the UK. Gregorio is currently PhD candidate in Architectural History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture and has been teaching at the Bartlett, at UCL History of Art Department and at Queen Mary, University of London. Gregorio is editor for LOBBY Magazine and writes in architectural periodicals both in Italy and in the UK.