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Ranald Lawrence


Jesus College

Art and the Economy of Light and Air: The Development of the Art School Typology (1851 – 1909)

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Ranald's PhD seeks to form a history of art schools that explains the significance of ‘environmental’ influences on their development into a built and institutional typology, and in turn the effect these educational institutions had on the development of environmental design technologies and techniques, in particular lighting.

This research grew out of an exploration of the typological precedents for Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art. It will aim to uncover how an evolution from art ‘academies’ – fulfilling a desire for fine art amongst an elite – to government ‘design schools’ – serving a critical industrial and economic function in society – depended on the development of new ideas and technologies affecting contemporary assumptions about the environment inside buildings. The construction of this history is important in social terms but also as a tool for analysing the significance of different advances, both human and technological, on the history of environments appropriate for art production and display, and eventually other building types as well. These processes are revealed in the evolution of the pedagogical structure of art schools, but also in the design of their buildings.

The research also seeks to reveal the significance of the accessibility of art and design in Victorian Britain – through museums and galleries but significantly and also more actively through the typology of the art school – on the dissemination of a designed conception of the environment, with its roots in the scientific advances of the enlightenment, to a wider audience.

Ranald studied Architecture and Environmental Design (RIBA Part I and II), at Cambridge, and is also editor of Scroope Twenty: The Cambridge Architecture Journal. He has worked for NRAP Architects, ORMS Architecture and Design and Richard Murphy Architects.


'Responding to the Cold: A New Institute of Architecture for the Glasgow School of Art'
Scroope Twenty: The Cambridge Architecture Journal
Cambridge University Department of Architecture

'Assessing the Environmental Heritage Value of Atmospheric Experience'
Published in Proceedings of the International Conference on Intervention Approaches for 20th Century Architectural Heritage
Ministry of Culture, Spain
June 2011

'A Case for the ‘Selective’ Poetic Environment'
Paper given at Ethics and the Built Environment Conference
University of Nottingham
September 2009

'Sverre Fehn: the architect who built on the horizon'
arq, volume 13, issue 1
Cambridge University Press

'Building on the Horizon: The Architecture of Sverre Fehn'
ptah, issue 1-2
The Alvar Aalto Academy

Completion Date
September 2014

Mary Ann Steane