learning architecture


a PhD in live projects and architectural education

At the AIAS Forum, Minneapolis / St. Paul

Subject to confirming some minor issues with our travel documents (we now have three passports between the two of us, and our return flights terminating in either Helsinki or Glasgow depending on which airline website we download our itinerary from) I will be attending the American Institute of Architecture Students 2009 Forum in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota from 29 – 31 December. On the 31st I’ll be running a seminar / workshop event entitled Trans-Atlantic transactions, in which the American AIA Code of Ethics (http://www.aia.org/about/ethicsandbylaws/index.htm) and the British RIBA Code of Conduct ( http://www.architecture.com/TheRIBA/Organisation/Constitution/CodeofConduct.aspx) will be explored, deconstructed and re-assembled to consider what it is architects do in practice, and to discuss the contribution of recent graduates and young architects to an expanded notion of practice.

I was planning to submit a more detailed description of the event to the AIAS Forum organisers, but my hand slipped and it was emailed as described above. It actually reads much better than what I had planned, and I’m looking forward to meeting students and other Forum delegates in a few weeks time.

My attendance at the AIAS Forum has been made possible thanks to Queens University Belfast’s Emily Sarah Montgomery Travel Scholarship, and my research cluster The Centre for Built Environment Research (CBER).

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Thanks to the organisers of the AHRA Postgraduate Symposium in Cardiff at the weekend, I’ll post my paper here in due course, but enjoyed the opportunity to make my first paper presentation to a small, supportive and engaging audience. The other papers were a pleasure to hear, and the event was easily worth the sixteen hours I spent on trains getting there and back…
Cardiff was also in fine form, under clear blue skies it was a great opportunity for a first visit. More to follow soon.

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Out now: Full Irish

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the launch of QUB faculty member Sarah Lappin’s new book Full Irish: New Architecture in Ireland at PLACE, the Architecture and Built Environment Centre for Northern Ireland. It’s a beautifully written and designed volume published by Princeton Architectural Press in the same series as Bart Lootsma’s seminal Superdutch: New Architecture in the Netherlands, and will make an excellent stocking filler for the architect in your life.

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This weekend, I will not be reading anything

Next Saturday, I’ll be delivering my first conference paper. So this weekend is not one for snuggling down with a few books, but covering every horizontal surface of my study in pieces of paper as I finesse the paper I’m delivering at this year’s AHRA Research Symposium. If you are in or near Cardiff on Saturday 12 December, drop the organisers a line (email below) and watch me nervously mumbling my way through…

Sixth Annual Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA) Research Student Symposium
Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University
Saturday 12 December 2009

10:30: Welcome & Coffee

Chair: Sam Austin, Welsh School of Architecture

11:00: James Benedict Brown, Queen’s University Belfast
Be Bold and Proceed: Fifty Years of Live Projects in British Architectural Education

11:30: Elizabeth Payne Toft, ESALA, University of Edinburgh/Edinburgh College of Art
Assessing Students’ Problem-solving Preparedness: Toward Politic Interdisciplinary Collaboration

12:00: Angela Collings, Queensland University of Technology
A Successful Balance: A Study into the Work-Life Challenges in the Architectural Profession

12:30: Lunch

Chair: Tom Brigden, Welsh School of Architecture

13:30: Wesley Perrott, University of Canberra (by Skype)
Divergent Pursuits and the New Organic: EPFL Rolex Learning Centre Lausanne by SANAA Architects Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa

14:00: Douglas Spencer, Westminster University
Parallel Lines: Formal Expression as Publicity in the Architecture of Zaha Hadid’s Central Building for BMW Leipzig

14:30: Nicholas Jewell, Westminster University
Blinded by the Lights: Imagineering Beijing’s Future Cityscape

15:00: Coffee

Chair: Mhairi McVicar, Welsh School of Architecture

15:30: Steve Parnell, University of Sheffield
1984 and the Institution of Architecture

16:00: Catherine Tate, University of Melbourne
The American Hospital in Melbourne, 1942

16:30: Mollie Claypool, Architectural Association
The [dis] Appearance of the Architectural Object: Narratives of the Subject in Projects of the City

17:00 Close

Delegates are welcome. There is no fee, but please email lewisk2  < – AT – >  cardiff  < – DOT – > ac < – DOT – > uk

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About the project

learning architecture is an academic blog of James Benedict Brown, previously a doctoral candidate in architectural pedagogy at the School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering at Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland. James passed his viva in September 2012 and graduated the following December.

About the author

James Benedict Brown has worked and studied in England, Northern Ireland, France and Canada. Following the completion of his PhD at QUB, he was appointed Lecturer in Architecture at Norwich University of the Arts. A short bio is here.

About the supervisors

The project is supervised by Prof. Ruth Morrow and Keith McAllister. Prior to his appointment at Qatar University in 2009, Prof. Ashraf Salama also supervised the project.


Click here for the bibliography to date.


Click here for a selection of peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed writing.


Click here for a glossary-in-progress of key terms used in the project.

Conference diary

Conferences and seminars of interest to the project.


All images are used for illustrative purposes only, and the copyright remains with the artist and/or creator. Please contact me if I have misappropriated an image or incorrectly credited it.


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