PhD Seminar: Ben Tosland

Today’s PhD Seminar will be hosted by PhD student Ben Tosland entitled, ‘Regional Development: The relationship of Western designed architecture with geopolitics in the Persian Gulf, 1925 – 1990’.

The focus of this presentation will largely be on the methodologies of proving the intrinsic link between architecture and geopolitics within the years 1925-1990 in the Persian Gulf. These events have caused a development in architectural aesthetic towards a more refined ‘critically regional’ style representative of the Persian Gulf, rather than individual nation states or global hegemony as is the historiography might suggest. The presentation shall show a brief outline of the thesis depicting the overarching structure covering important projects by several globally renowned architects as well as depicting projects that are either underappreciated, under-researched or unknown. Research for this presentation carried out in libraries and archives in the United Kingdom and across Europe utilises primary material from the offices of architects and planners coupled with contemporary journal articles causing numerous methodological issues. The aim of this presentation is to tackle these issues of method and selection criteria to ensure the overall argument of the thesis is water-tight while still contributing original thought and insight to a variety of case studies.

Ben has been a PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant in the School of Architecture since September 2016. He has an Undergraduate degree from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in History (2014) and a Master’s degree in Conservation and Regeneration from the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture (2015). He is a recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship at the University of Kent enabling him to research and study for his PhD. Ben works externally as a consultant for historic buildings, aiding planning applications and writing Conservation Area Appraisals. He is an affiliate member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), a member of the Twentieth Century Society and has worked with the SPAB.

PGR Seminar Series commences with Ben Tosland

The first PGR presentation of this year will be held on Wed 5th April at 15.00, and will be given by postgraduate research student Ben Tosland, with his talk entitled ‘The development of green spaces and influence of western landscape architecture in the Persian Gulf during the late twentieth-century’.

Ben’s research aims to show the extent of Western influence over landscape design in the Persian Gulf and its relationship with town planning movements throughout the twentieth-century. Supported through archival research and several case studies, Ben will argue that the Western design of landscapes in the region is due to both the influx of people from Europe and America who worked with oil companies, and their subsequent funding of landscape work. Added to this, there are changing sociological and political forces in the region during this period that will also be assessed. Several themes and sub-themes that will be shown through his research will be:

  • Identity and representation
  • Segregation and inequality
  • Morphology of spatial design
  • Relationship between landscape and townscape

This short talk will attempt to give the context to this research by representing statistics through maps of the region before looking at a chosen case study and briefly explaining how the aforementioned themes affected the design process and the eventual outcome.