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Supervisor: Prof. James Campbell


Research overview:

The research examines the urban water supply and the water-related architecture in England from 1400 to 1800. Urban water infrastructures are not only a physical structure but also a social construct that is associated with the history and culture surrounding its creation, consumption, and codification. The design of water supply infrastructures reflects the socio-culture, political ideologies, and history of urban formation. In particular, water supplies to baths and fountains were the major hydraulic infrastructures developed in England before the advent of the Industrial Revolution. However, it is surprising that the subject has received such little attention from architectural historians. By focusing on protoindustrial England, the regulation of water supply infrastructures is a highly illuminating lens through which to investigate the society, culture, urban environment, and architectural history. This study aims to unfold the development of water-related architecture, infrastructure, and technologies, including a study of materials and construction techniques. Instead of viewing urban water supply as merely functional, this research seeks to demonstrate their socio-cultural implications and to identify the effects that the underlying urban contexts had on their design.



Lei Song began her PhD at the Architecture Department in October 2021. Prior to coming to Cambridge, she worked at the UNESCO-WHITRAP on promoting heritage conservation and risk resilience in post-Covid eras. Lei holds a Master’s in Design Studies from Harvard University and a BArch from CUMTB. She also received architectural education at UC Berkeley and Ulster University.