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Architecture Cultural & historical studies

The Cultural and Historical Studies Unit (CHSU) is headed by Dr Jonathan Charley. It's been engaged in a wide range of research activities that relate to the three linked definitions of ‘culture’ suggested by Raymond Williams.

  • Culture as an independent and abstract noun that describes the general process of intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic development
  • Culture in the sense of a particular way of life or a dominant ideology that belongs to a group, class or nation
  • Culture as a collective noun that describes the sum total of intellectual and aesthetic activity

At the core of our research lies the history and theory of buildings and cities. We explore how and why buildings and cities are produced and used, how they are represented and the meanings we attach to them. We also look at the broad contextual field of architecture and the city, and look at how political, economic, literary and cinematic investigations of the city and urban culture can produce new types of narrative.

Academic leader 

Collaborating academics

Research grants & projects 

  • Charley, J, et al, Critical Dialogues: Scotland + Venice 2012, Exhibition and Catalogue – Scotland’s entry to the Venice Biennale.
  • Charley, J =, Spaces of labour-re-imagining a productive landscape for Scotland, Exhibition and Catalogue – on the history and future of the architecture of work.

Key Publications

  • Charley, Jonathan (2013) Memories of Cities: Trips and Manifestos. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4094-3137-4.
  • Charley, Jonathan (2013) Scares and Squares II: A literary journey into the architectural imagination. In: Once Upon A Place. caleidoscopio, Lisbon, Portugal, pp. 38-51.
  • Charley, Jonathan (2013) Sketches of war: the graveyards of historical memory. In: Ordnance. Ashgate, Farnham, pp. 253-271. ISBN 9781409439127
  • Charley, Jonathan (2013) The trantorisation of planet earth. The Scottish Ecological Design Association Magazine (Autumn).
  • Charley, Jonathan (2012) Critical Dialogues: Scotland + Venice 2012. Scottish Government and Creative Scotland, Glasgow. ISBN 9780956520043.
  • Charley, Jonathan (2012) Violent Stone - the city of dialectical Justice - three tales from court. In: Architecture and Justice. Ashgate Publishing.
  • Charley, Jonathan (2011) The shadow of economic history - the architecture of boom, slump and crisis. ARQ, 14. pp. 363-372. ISSN 0716-0852.
  • Edwards, Sarah and Charley, Jonathan (2011) Writing the modern city: literature, architecture, modernity. Routledge, Abingdon. ISBN 9780415591515.

Current research themes & PhD topics

Members of CHSU are currently engaged in exploring social and cultural issues in various contexts worldwide including Brazil, India, Russia, and Western Europe. Topics include:

  • Architecture, literature, and film
  • Cultures of resistance
  • Social justice in the urban environment
  • Modernity, migration, and dwelling
  • Urban culture and urban history
  • The social and architectural history of work
  • Wasteland and value city