Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin

Reader
Stage 2 Coordinator
Director for the Centre for Research in European Architecture (CREAte)

About

Qualifications: PhD, MA, Dip. Architecture, RIBA

Timothy Brittain-Catlin is an architect who has been writing about architectural history for many years, both for a general readership and for those with a particular interest in the revolutionary changes in architectural thinking in early nineteenth-century England.

He qualified as an architect in 1988 and has worked on a wide variety of design projects from conservation and restoration to masterplanning both in Britain and abroad. He joined the Kent School of Architecture from the Architectural Association in September 2007.

He specialises in early nineteenth-century and early twentieth English architecture and in particular in the work of A.W.N. Pugin, completing a doctorate on ‘The English residential architecture of A.W.N. Pugin in its context’ in 2004 under the supervision of Andrew Saint at the University of Cambridge. He is a regular contributor to the World of Interiors and the Architectural Review, and his publications include How to Read a Building (2007) and Churches (2008). His book The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century was published by Spire Books in association with English Heritage in July 2008. His latest book is Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture, published in 2014 by The MIT Press, the podcast is available here.

In Summer 2018 he was appointed to Historic England’s national Advisory Committee. He is the deputy chairman and publications chairman of the 20th Century Society and from this position he played a leading role in the Society’s recent campaign to save postmodernist buildings, which resulted in a change in national policy and the listing of 17 postmodern structures across the country. He established and chairs Lund Humphries’ new editorial board in the Architectural History of the British Isles, supported by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.

Research Interests

The reputation of architects at times of change

For the last ten years I have been working on a series of projects that all fall within the overall category of ‘the reputation of architects at times of change’. This began with my detailed investigation into the English architects whose careers were thrown off course by the success of the gothic revival from the 1840s. My book The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century, published by Spire Books in 2008, provides a richly illustrated depiction of the way in which the gothic revival and its protagonists swept across the country in a remarkably short period, in effect terminating or diverting the working lives of many of their predecessors. He is currently completing the first comprehensive, innovative overview of Edwardian domestic architecture since the 1970s, with new photography by Robin Forster, and this will be published by Lund Humphries in Autumn 2020.

Between 2008 and 2012 I started to work on studies of architects whose contribution to architecture and the profession was not matched by public acclaim or financial success. The reasons for this are varied: sometimes they did not have the drive to become commercially or socially successful; some narrowly failed to win competitions, or did win but the project remained unbuilt. Sometimes they worked in an unfashionable style; sometimes they were difficult characters with too many enemies. My first detailed study was of the mainly Edwardian architect Horace Field, whose designs for Lloyds Bank branches that resembled Restoration-era merchants’ houses eventually transformed the appearance of the interwar English high street, but whose successful early career with high-profile clients, houses and offices seemed to fizzle out rapidly after the First World War. I have also written about the ‘architects’ architect’ Leonard Manasseh, an influential and popular teacher at the Architectural Association in the 1950s and architect of the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and the former Rutherford School in Marylebone.

In Spring 2014 The MIT Press published my book Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture, which provides many examples of ‘loser’ architects, and which proposes an explanation for why certain types of architecture never receive the type of critique and appreciation that they deserve.

I have been writing for The World of Interiors for 25 years, and contribute to many other magazines and journals, and I often discuss these matters there.

Bibliography

Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2014) Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass and London, UK, 192 pp. ISBN 9780262026697.
Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2011) ‘Downward trajectory: towards a theory of failure’. arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, 15 (02). pp. 139-147.
Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2010) ‘Horace Field and Lloyds Bank’. Architectural History, 53. pp. 271-294. ISSN 0066-622X.
Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2010) Leonard Manasseh & Partners. 20th Century Architects. RIBA Publishing / English Heritage / The Twentieth Century Society, London, 162 pp. ISBN 9781859463680

He welcomes proposals from prospective PhD students in related areas.

Teaching

Module Code Module Title Information
AR551 Nineteenth -Century Architecture Module Convenor
AR545 Architectural Design Tutor

Supervision

PhD Supervision

Publications

Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Book

  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2014). Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture. [Online]. Cambridge, Mass and London, UK: MIT Press. Available at: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/bleak-houses.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2010). Leonard Manasseh & Partners. London: RIBA Publishing.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2008). Churches: explore the symbols, learn the language and discover the history. London: HarperCollins.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. and Charles, M. (2008). The English parsonage in the early nineteenth century. [Online]. Reading: Spire Books Ltd, in association with English Heritage. Available at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/architecture/staff/tbc_book/index.html.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. and Charles, M. (2008). The English parsonage: a selection of photographs. Canterbury: Kent School of Architecture.

Book section

  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Chesterton, Dame Elizabeth Ursula. in: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.77157.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. and Curl, J. (2018). Prolegemenon. in: Making Dystopia: the strange rise and survival of architectural barbarism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. ix-xii. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/making-dystopia-9780198753698?cc=gb&lang=en&.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). 2008: Craddock Cottages. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Houses 100 Years. London: Pavilion Books, pp. 186-187. Available at: http://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-houses-100-years/.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). Realism in Nineteenth-Century British Architecture. in: Mallgrave, H., Bressani, M. and Contandriopoulos, C. eds. The Companions to the History of Architecture. Hoboken, USA: Wiley, pp. 174-191. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781118887226.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). 1959: 6 Bacon's Lane. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Houses 100 Years. London: Pavilion Books, pp. 91-92. Available at: http://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-houses-100-years/.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). 1999: Winterbrook House. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Houses 100 Years. London: Pavilion Books, p. . Available at: http://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-houses-100-years/.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2014). 1998: British Library. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Buildings 100 Years. London: Batsford, pp. 166-169. Available at: http://www.batsford.com/blog/100-buildings-100-years/.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2014). Postmodernism. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Buildings 100 Years. London: Batsford, pp. 151-153. Available at: http://www.batsford.com/blog/100-buildings-100-years/.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2014). A little glass of violets in the home-place. in: Moloney, A. ed. 1914 Now: four persepctives on fashion design. London: Centre for Fashion Curation, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, pp. 13-14. Available at: http://showstudio.com/project/1914_now/essay_a_little_glass_vase_of_violets_in_the_home_place.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2014). 1983: Sainsbury Building, Worcester College. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Buildings 100 Years. London: Batsford, p. . Available at: http://www.batsford.com/blog/100-buildings-100-years/.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2012). Is it old or is it new? in: Buhagiar, K. and Banthorpe, J. eds. A Printed Thing: writing Architecture Project. Valletta: Architecture Project, pp. 58-70. Available at: http://www.bdlbooks.com/architecture/4052-a-printed-thing.html.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2011). 'A.W.N. Pugin: realist and revolutionary'. in: Powell, K. ed. The Great Builders. London: Thames & Hudson, pp. 107-112. Available at: http://www.thamesandhudson.com/9780500251799.html.
  • Brittain-Catlin, T. (2011). Thanet's architecture in the heyday of sea-bathing. in: de Moubray, A. ed. Saving Thanet: the architecture of Kent's forgotten coast. London: SAVE Britain's Heritage, pp. 16-18. Available at: http://www.savebritainsheritage.org/news/article.php?id=203.

Edited book

  • Brittain-Catlin, T., de Maeyer, J. and Bressani, M. eds. (2017). Gothic Revival Worldwide: A.W.N. Pugin's global infuence. [Online]. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press. Available at: http://upers.kuleuven.be/en/book/9789462700918.
  • Adler, G., Brittain-Catlin, T. and Fontana-Giusti, G. eds. (2012). Scale Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture. [Online]. Abingdon: Routledge. Available at: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415687126/.
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