Stephen Walker

Stephen Walker

Professor, Prof

  • Room 1.10, Humanities Bridgeford Street Building, The University of Manchester Oxford Road

    M13 9PL Manchester

    United Kingdom

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Personal profile


I trained as an architect and worked for architectural and design practices in London before joining the studio of Gabriel Allende and Antonio Ruiz Barbarín in Madrid, where I worked for two years. Since returning to the UK, I worked in practice before studying for an MA in Architecture & Critical Theory at the University of Nottingham (Distinction), and PhD at the University of Sheffield.

I taught part- and then full-time in the Faculty of Art and Design at Nottingham Trent University, where I worked for five years before being appointed as a Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Sheffield in February 2001, where I worked until January 2017.

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

AHRC Peer Review College member (2007–2015); Editorial Board: Field Journal (2007–)and Architecture & Culture: the Journal of the AHRA (Routledge) (2010–); Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA) steering group member (2008–); Peer reviewer, The Architectural Theory Review, Architectural Press, Ashgate Publishers, Blackwell Publishers, Routledge, Architectural Theory Review, Architectural Research Quarterly, The Journal of Architecture, The Nordic Journal of Architecture, Palgrave; RIBA Dissertation Prize judge 2015; RIBA Research Trust Panel Member 2015–; Invited panel member: L'Agenzia Nazionale per la Valutazione del sistema Universitario e della Ricerca (ANVUR) (The Italian Research and University Evaluation Agency); National Fairground & Circus Archive (NFCA) Advisory Board Member 2012–; Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT —Science and Technology Foundation, the Portuguese National Research Funding Organization) research evaluation panel member for Architecture & Urbanism, 2019.

Research interests

My research interests are broadly informed by art, architectural and critical theory and examine the questions that such theoretical projects can raise about particular moments of architectural and artistic practice. A developing methodology has brought together aspects of theory with a wide range of practical work including Mediaeval Breton architecture, ring-roads and the work of contemporary artists. In particular, I have undertaken research on the artist Gordon Matta-Clark, about whom I have now spoken and published extensively. This work has been supported by two grants from the British Academy, and culminated in a monograph published by I. B. Tauris. Tauris are also publishing my monograph on the artist Helen Chadwick, the result of support initially from the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds, which funded my archival work on the Helen Chadwick collection in the HMI Archive, and from an AHRC Study Leave Grant. I am currently working on a project about the collaborative art/architectural practice of Warren & Mosley.

More recently, I have been developing my research interests and approach towards a more collaborative situation. I was a founder member of The Agency Research Centre, based in the School of Architecture at The University of Sheffield (2009). I have also become involved in a number of collaborative projects with staff elsewhere in the university, including with Professor Vanessa Toulmin (National Fairground Archive), working on the architecture of fairgrounds, an ongoing project that has attracted funding from the University and RIBA Research Trust Award. I was involved in ‘Design Matters’, a WRoCAH (White Rose College of Arts and Humanities) three-way PhD Studentship Network with the Universities of Sheffield, Leeds and York, 2015–18.

My research and teaching has increasingly been addressing urban issues. From early work on urban peripheries and ring-roads, I have, with colleagues, been developing both undergraduate and postgraduate courses with an urban focus; Urban (Hi)stories is the subject of a joint publication in preparation with Florian Kossak (The University of Sheffield).


I currently teach an Undergraduate Elective, Architecture and the Body: Throughout history, the human body has influenced systems of belief, which have in turn found numerous means of cultural expression.  This elective focuses on various moments when the thinking of the body and its relationship with architecture became particularly significant.  In addition to examining these particular moments, lectures and directed reading discussions introduce a range of enduring concerns that have accompanied bodily connections (the distinction between body, mind and soul; the influence and extent of scientific and medical understanding: gender and ‘otherness’; authority and control; movement and perception). Alongside these topics, the influence exerted by techniques of observation and representation are also noted. In particular, lectures and discussion explore the grounds that have been claimed (expressly or covertly) for an authority that is based on the body, and the related claims that this authority can extend to provide criteria for the design and judgement of architecture.


I contribute to Undergraduate Humanities lectures, and have an M.Arch Dissertation group.


I would be happy to supervise PhD students within my own research areas: art & architecture; architecture & critical theory; the architectures of fairs and fairgrounds, seaside or temporary architecture; architecture and the body; architectural history & critical historiography.

I am interested in interdisciplinary approaches and supervisory arrangements. In my previously institution, I was involved in cross-departmental and cross-Faculty supervision with colleagues in English, Landscape, Sociology, and the Management School. Within my own group of students, there have been those registered for PhD by written research, PhD by design and PhD by practice.

I have examined PhDs in the UK, Australia and Spain. Before moving to Manchester, I was Director of the Graduate School, later Director of PhD Programmes, and between 2013-14 I was PhD Admissions & Progression Tutor at The University of Sheffield School of Architecture. There, I was also responsible for the coordination and delivery of the Advanced Research Training modules taken by all PhD students in the School of Architecture, and was part of the University Research Ethics and Integrity (REI) Working Group (2010–2012) which designed the research training provision for the Faculty REI core module for PhD students, designed and delivered with colleagues Dr Ruth Stirton (Law) and Dr. Simon Warren (Education). I was Faculty PGR tutor in 2013, and was more recently involved in the Faculty PhD working groups for both GTA and cohort recruitment.


I was the Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA) Annual International PhD Symposium organizer in 2010, and organized the event again in April 2016.

In my previous institution, I worked with the following PhD students through to the completion of their degrees:

As 1st and Joint Supervisor:

Dr. Nadia Mounajjed, Rethinking the Body, Memory and Architecture in the Age of Digital Techtonics (with Chengzhi Peng). Completed, 2007

Dr. Seyed Nader Pourmosavi, Urban Renewal Policies: A Critical Analysis of Urban Renewal Policies in Iran, 1286–1400 AH/1907–2020 AD. Completed 2011

Dr. Ruth Blacksell, Typography After Conceptual Art (Concordat Scholarship Studentship) Completed 2013

Dr Sara Mahdizadeh, Critical Analyses of the Existing Situation of Historical Gardens, Garden Conservation and Heritage Before and After the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Completed 2014

Dr Paula McCloskey, Maternal Experience, Subjectivity and Art Encounters (with Jenny Hockey, Emeritus Professor of Sociology) Completed 2014

Dr Lakshmi Priya Rajendran, Understanding User-Space Relationships: A Phenomenological Approach (with Rosie Parnell) Completed 2014

Dr Catherine Heatherington, Disordered Narratives: Public Perception and Understanding of Regenerated Derelict Industrial Landscapes (with Anna Jorgensen, Department of Landscape) Completed 2015

Dr Maryam Fazel, Locative Media: From Transcendental Technologies to Socio-Formative Spheres (with Mark Meagher) Completed 2015

Dr Ruxandra Berinde, Moving Images Of Home: Architectural Autobiographies in Cinema (with Renata Tyszczuk) Completed 2015

Dr Sukaina Almousa, The Experience of Temporary Architecture: Tracing the Narrative and the Body/Mind Journey in Installation Art (with Mark Meagher) Completed 2016

Dr Alona Martinez Perez, The Architecture of the Periphery. Completed 2016

Dr Ian Trowell, Pasts, Presents and Futures at the Fairground (with Tom Cassidy, University of Leeds) Completed 2017



As 2nd Supervisor:

Dr. Kim Trogal, Affective Urban Practices: A Feminist Approach to the Ethics of Care in Contemporary Urban Practice (with Doina Petrescu) Completed 2012

Dr Rully Damayanti, Adding Meaning to Lynch’s Theory of Imageability (with Florian Kossak) Completed 2015

Dr Chwas A Sabr, Regulations and Urban Form: A typo-morphological analysis of Erbil City (with Florian Kossak) Completed 2016

Dr Sam Vardy, Self-Organised Architecture (with Doina Petrescu) Completed 2017

Dr Jianyu Chen, Yingzao fayuan: The Conflicts and Harmonies between Two Chinese Architectural Education Systems in 1923-1937 (final stage supervisor following the death of Prof. Peter Blundell Jones) Completed 2017

Dr Derong Kong, The Dong Oral Architecture: Carpenter, Architecture and Phenomena Among the Dong (final stage supervisor following the death of Prof. Peter Blundell Jones) Completed 2017

Dr Sadiq Abid, An Examination of Heritage Protection and Conservation Practices in the Pilgrim City of Najaf (with Jo Lintonbon, final stage 2nd supervisor following the death of Prof. Peter Blundell Jones) Completed 2017

Dr Kate Kilalea, OK, Mr. Field (with Adam Piette, School of English) Completed 2017

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Major and MInor Architectural Issues in the Work of Gordon Matta-Clark, The University of Sheffield

Award Date: 29 Oct 2008

Master of Arts, Architecture & Critical Theory, University of Nottingham

Award Date: 8 Mar 1996

Master of Architecture, D.Arch Postgraduate Diploma in Architecture, Kingston Polytechnic

Award Date: 8 Jun 1990

Bachelor of Arts, Architecture & Environmental Design, University of Nottingham

Award Date: 8 Jul 1987

External positions

Research Evaluation Panel member for Architecture & Urbanism , Fundacao de Ciencia e Tecnologia

1 Mar 20195 Apr 2019

Visiting Professor, Doctoral School of Architecture and Urbanism, Technical University of Cluj-Napoca

8 Dec 2016 → …

Committee Member, RIBA Research Grants Committee

1 Feb 20161 Sept 2022

Editorial Board & Steering Group Member, Architecture and Culture Journal

1 Jan 2011 → …

Steering Group Member, Architectural Humanities Research Association

1 Jan 2007 → …

Peer Review College Member, Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

1 Jan 20072 Feb 2015

Areas of expertise

  • NA Architecture
  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR


  • Architectural theory; art & architecture; fairground architecture


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