John McKean is an architect, historian and critic. For many years he has taught, and from 1996 to 2008 as Professor of Architecture at the University of Brighton, England. He ran architecture and interiors studios in the architecture schools of East London, North London and then Brighton. Following graduate study in history and theory, he taught general studies at the Architectural Association in London, and design history at Middlesex University. He is the author of various books and many essays on architecture from classical Greece to today, but mostly about episodes in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century design.
John has been a regular critic, publishing in Architectural Design, RIBA Journal, Building Design, The Architectural Review, Spazio e Società, Places, Architèse, as well as regularly in The Architects' Journal as technical and news editor for some years. John has also widely published drawings and photographs. In 2000 John's major study of the complete life of Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Architect, Artist, Icon, reached the bestseller lists, and its second edition remains in print.
His work is in the study of architecture - of urban places, of designers, and often of individual buildings and their insides. He resists being pigeon-holed, in focusing on one time or place for the objects of his study, or the restrictions of a definition of "architecture". John's motto is the Scottish poet Hugh MacDermaid's observation: watertight compartments are only useful to a sinking ship.
For two decades from 1979 John was invited annually by Giancarlo De Carlo (1919-2005) to the International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Design in Italy. John's major study Giancarlo De Carlo: Layered Places was, in French as Giancarlo de Carlo: des lieux, des hommes, the text for a Centre Pompidou exhibition on De Carlo's work in 2004.
Early in this millennium, John was invited to take on the 21st edition of Sir Banister Fletcher's textbook A History of Architecture, and his proposal for a radically new, post-colonial, non-Anglocentric world history was accepted. Sadly, this project is currently stuck half way in the sands of global recession. That situation will change.
In 2012, John is concentrating on the Regency period and environment of Brighton and Hove, building up a photographic portfolio. He is organizing a bi-centenary weekend devoted to many aspects of Regency society - its urbanism and architecture, its food and dress, and the business of its being serviced - by musicians to whores, chamberpots to seabathing.
This bi-centenary weekend, 12 to 14 October 2012, is an initiative of the Regency Society of Brighton and Hove. It begins with its president, Simon Jenkins, introducing Dan Cruickshank's talk on the year 1812. The grand finale is at the oldest hotel in Brighton, in the room where the Prince Regent held his birthday parties before the Royal Pavilion was rebuilt. Their definition of Regency is the time of George, Prince of Wales and later King George IV, who was his fathers regent from 1811-1820. He dominated British public life from the 1780s to his death in 1830, although the Regency generation really ended with his brother Williams death seven years later and Victorias accession to the throne.
John McKean writes...
Prefabricating memory lane: whatever happened to systems? 26.09.2005
Mock or Mack scholarship Date
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