After studying architecture at the Polytechnic of North London (BSc. Hons.1991; Dip. Arch.1993) I first joined the University of Westminster to work with Linda Clarke on a Joseph Rowntree funded project. This was published in 1996 as Skills and the construction process: A comparative study of vocational training and quality in social housebuilding. There followed a number of funded projects on women in construction and vocational training for the construction industry after which I left to study for a PhD. On completing my doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 2004 I moved to the Working Lives Research Institute where I was employed for six years. In 2010 I returned to the University of Westminster to help set up the Centre for Research into the Production of the Built Environment (ProBE) with colleague Linda Clarke. For the last twenty years my research has been concerned with the social context for the production of architecture and the wider built environment entailing an examination of the relationships between different actors in the construction industry, and how social processes affect industry outputs, from houses and schools to civil engineering infrastructure. This perspective is founded on years of empirical research, much of it externally funded and resulting in a wide range of internationally recognised publications.
I recently led the Leverhulme Trust funded project, Constructing Post-War Britain: building workers' stories 1950-1970, with Linda Clarke as Co-applicant. This involved recording the oral histories of over 50 building workers employed on a number of significant post-war schemes to gain new perspectives on the construction process behind the architecture and infrastructure of the welfare state. This project is now archived at the Bishopsgate Library, London and a portable exhibition of banners and extracts from the oral recordings has been produced. Recent research is focused on the urban history of an area of Hackney, London, consisting of listed Georgian and Victorian terraced houses, which was home to a large number of squatters in the 1970s. Oral history and visual documentation reveal how these semi-derelict houses were inhabited and restored by women, many of them politically active as radical architects and housing activists. This research has been published in History Workshop Journal and Field.
I am currently working, with Linda Clarke, on a new project entitled, Housing and Labour: an oral history of post-war council house building in England and Scotland and I am also an affiliated researcher with the international AHRC funded project Translating Ferro/Transforming Knowledge.
External Academic Positions
Member of the Oral History Society and the Editorial Committee for Oral History Journal.
Trustee of the Construction History Society and Co-Editor of Construction History Journal
Member of Reading Committee of Aedificare: International Journal of Construction History
Member of RIBA Judging Panel for RIBA Research Awards 2019 and 2020
Member of the Scientific Committee for the 7th International Congress of Construction History, Lisbon, July 2021
Current and Recent Research
• Housing and Labour: a pilot oral history of post-war council house building in England and Scotland. University of Westminster Research Strategy Fund, (£23,750) 2017.
• Architecture and Building Labour, an archiving, exhibition and symposium project funded by the University of Westminster Research Strategy Fund, (£23,500), 2016.
• Housing and urban change in London Fields: from gentlemen traders to feminist activists, internal Faculty seed funding towards large project application (£1,000), 2016.
• Constructing post-war Britain: building workers’ stories 1950-70, a Leverhulme Trust project (£147,682) with Co-Applicant Linda Clarke, 2010-2013.
• Does Work still Shape Social Identity and Action, ESRC funded, 3 year project based at Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University, part of ESRC Identities program, 2005-2008
• Heritage Lottery Fund Grant, to Concrete History Group for making of short documentary film ‘The Ladies Bridge’, £25,000 (2005).