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The English Architect: Origins, Obstructions to Acceptance and Establishment of the Profession

Part 1 Dissertation 2007
Elizabeth Long
University of Nottingham
The purpose of this dissertation is to identify what has lead to the regression of the English Architect to nothing more than one who directs the material fabrication of buildings. The dominant theme in this study is the problematic transfer of architecture as a form of specialised knowledge in the cultural sphere to England. It is argued that the root of our understanding of architecture and its cultural role and the image of the architect stems from this problematic transfer. This study provides a comprehensive investigation into the historical emergence of the profession of Architecture, as well as the formalisation of architecture within the context of academic knowledge, from the Italian Renaissance through to 18th Century England. This includes an examination of the origins of the profession, its establishment, and the inclusion of the subject of architecture in the hierarchy of knowledge during the Italian Renaissance; a discussion of the problematic and delayed transfer of the architectural profession to England, and the effect of the efforts of Inigo Jones and others. Also discussed are the factors that eased the acceptance of the professional architect, including the acknowledgement of the architect’s identity, and their formal training. I mainly conclude that expectations of our current interpretation of the Architect are significantly subservient to the culture of expedient building and fabrication, as opposed to simultaneously creating the sedimentation of meaning in the cultural sphere and edification of the public realm through the design of buildings.
Elizabeth Long

The dissertation radically addresses the dominant mindset of building in the Architectural profession in England. Architecture as formalised knowledge first emerged in Italy in the Quattrocento, and Long argues here that the problematic transfer to England in the 16c is at the root of our current problems in understanding architecture and its role in the cultural realm. Long comprehensively investigates the historical emergence of architecture within the context of formalised knowledge and reveals that the current understanding of architecture and design is largely clouded by a deep dependence on the techniques of material fabrication of building.

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