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A black and white photo of wheelbarrows standing upright on a gravelly construction site.

Doctoral Defence: Hugh Strange

Hugh Strange will defend the PhD thesis: Architecture at the Building Site: Challenging the Separation Between Design and Construction.

The defence will be held in English.

Trial lecture: kl. 09:00 am
Trial lecture title: A critical survey of ideas and practices of craft in contemporary architectural culture.

Disputas: kl. 11:00 am

Thesis abstract
This thesis makes the case for an architecture that emerges through the process of construction. The research investigates how, within the context of industrialised England from 1830 to 1980, the historic separation between designing and building in the production of architecture developed, and how it continues to define our contemporary building culture. It focusses on the impact of this development on labour and construction, and examines both the agency of those who construct, and the role of the architect, particularly as understood through drawings and related documentation. The research reviews critiques of this ‘partitioning’ and looks at ways in which it has been challenged through alternative models of architectural practice. The research is structured around studies of three buildings sites. I have read the construction of the Great Stove at Chatsworth in the 1830s, to Joseph Paxton’s design, as exemplar of the impact of the factory system and machinery on the production of architecture, with the resulting replacement on site of skilled craftsmen by unskilled labour. Following this, William Lethaby, working within the context of the Arts and Crafts in the 1890s and early 1900s, changed his working methodology, producing fewer drawing before construction, to integrate craftsmen into an ongoing design process at the building site. And from the 1960s onwards, Walter Segal, in developing a radically simplified construction methodology, sought to make designing and building accessible to all. In arguing that architects (and architecture) should re-embrace construction, the temporal process and labour of building, and the creative space of the building site, the thesis proposes – despite all the obstacles - both a political project of renewed agency within the production of architecture, and a parallel revitalisation of the architectural artefact.

Hugh Strange (1969) studied architecture at Edinburgh University, graduating in 1994, and established his London-based practice, Hugh Strange Architects, in 2011.

Main supervisor: Professor Thomas McQuillan, AHO
Co-supervisor: Professor Beate Hølmebakk, AHO
Co-supervisor: Prosfessor Pier Vittorio Aureli

Adjudication committee
1. opponent: Professor Adam Sharr
2. opponent: Professor Francoise Fromonot
Co-ordinator: Professor Emeritus Bjørn Sandaker


Date: 06. June, 2024
Time: 9:00 am

Venue: A2 Sverre Fehn
Address: Maridalsveien 29