Dr Davide Deriu

Dr Davide Deriu

I am a Reader in the School of Architecture and Cities, where I co-convene the Architectural Humanities Research Group. Previously I served as Director of Architectural Research and School’s Assistant Research Director, and I sat on the editorial board of the University of Westminster Press.

My studies were at Politecnico di Torino and University College London, where I took a Master in History of Modern Architecture (distinction) and a PhD in Architecture. Prior to joining Westminster, I taught at the Bartlett (UCL), Brighton and Canterbury, and was Visiting Assistant Professor at METU, Ankara. I have been a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2017, when I completed a PG Cert in Higher Education at the Westminster Business School (distinction).

At Westminster I have developed a number of international collaborations, and recently was Visiting Professor at the Iuav University of Venice. I have also acted as PhD external examiner at UCL and Kingston University, as well as MRes thesis assessor at the University of Brighton. Other professional activities include a long-standing involvement in the Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA) and the European Architectural History Network (EAHN). As EAHN editorial assistant, I contributed to found the open access journal Architectural Histories.

My research explores critical intersections between spatial and visual cultures. I specialise in 20C architectural and urban representations, and in recent years have been focusing on issues of balance (understood in philosophical as well as psycho-physiological terms). I obtained grants from the AHRC, British Academy, Yale University’s Paul Mellon Centre, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Canadian Centre for Architecture and Wellcome Trust, and my writing appears in a number of publications in five languages.

I have been invited to talk at a number of universities and cultural institutions, including Tate Britain, Kunsthaus Graz, Nottingham Contemporary Art Centre, and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), where I was a Colin Rowe Lecturer on architecture and photography (2017). Besides regular peer-review activities, I act as a referee for international funding bodies, such as the Swiss National Science Foundation, and was a panel member in the latest evaluation of research quality conducted by the Italian National Research Agency (VQR 2015–2019).

My PhD supervision includes various aspects of design research and, since 2022, I have been involved in practice-based projects at the Westminster School of Arts (CREAM). I welcome doctoral proposals, particularly in the following areas: 20th-century architectural history and theory; modernity/modernism; visual culture and representation; contemporary urbanism; emerging landscapes.



Vertigo in the City

This cross-disciplinary project I initiated at Westminster, in 2014, explores issues of balance in relation to the perception and experience of built environments. It involves a network of scholars and practitioners, including a collaboration with the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. Its exploratory phase, funded by a Wellcome Trust grant in the Medical Humanities, led to a special issue of the journal Emotion, Space and Society. More recently, I was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship to produce the book On Balance: Architecture and Vertigo (Lund Humphries, 2023).

As part of this project, I conceived and co-curated (with Michael Mazière) an exhibition of architectural film installations by Catherine Yass in Ambika P3, Falling Away (2021) which received a grant from Arts Council England. In conjunction with it, a public symposium was held at the School of Architecture and Cities.

Details are available on the project website


Photography and Architecture

My extensive research on photography and the built environment deals primarily with issues of scale, perception and politics of representation. It stemmed from my PhD, which examined the relationship between aerial photography and urban visions in the early 20th century. Post-doctoral research funded by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art led to a themed issue of The London Journal on ‘Aerial Views of Metropolitan London’.

My focus then shifted to the relationship between photography and the architectural model, which opened up new questions of scalar perception. Following a Visiting Scholarship at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, in Montreal, I curated the exhibition Modernism in Miniature: Points of View (CCA, 2011). Subsequently, I was invited to the CCA as a Mellon Fellow on the multidisciplinary programme Architecture and/for Photography (2016/17).

A further research strand concerns the socio-spatial aspects of urban landscape photography. In 2012 I co-organised a major cross-disciplinary conference that fed into the edited book Emerging Landscapes: Between Production and Representation (Ashgate, 2014; republished by Routledge, 2016). This prompted me to explore the photographic work of Gabriele Basilico, whose influential practice was the subject of a seminar we held at Westminster in 2016 and of further publications.

My latest output in this area is the open access book Picturing Cities: The Photobook as Urban Narrative (Milan: FrancoAngeli, 2024), co-edited with Angelo Maggi.


Travel Cultures and Representations

A broader area of interest concerns the role of travel practices within architectural culture. My project, ‘Picturing Modern Ankara: “New Turkey” in Western Imagination’, explored the cross-cultural perceptions of modern Ankara during the early period of the Turkish Republic. Funded through an AHRC Early-Career Fellowship (2011/12), the research led to several publications and to an international symposium organised in collaboration with SOAS. In addition to this, in 2016 I co-edited a special collection of Architectural Histories on Travel.

My work in this area informs the seminar group ‘On the Move’ which I run in the M.Arch (RIBA Part 2) History & Theory programme.

In brief

Research areas

Modern and contemporary architecture , Visual culture/media and Urban experience and representation

Skills / expertise

Historical/critical analysis, Interdisciplinary research and Curating

Supervision interests

Architectural history and theory (C20/21), Visual representations of architecture / cities, Urban experience , Production of space and Travel cultures