Job: PhD scholarship: The Telephone Exchange Building (1940-1981): Technology, ‘Official Architecture’ and the Statey. Manchester School of Architecture

Manchester School of Architecture is delighted to offer a 3.5 year fully-funded AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) Collaborative Doctoral Award PhD scholarship that covers tuition fees and an annual stipend set at the minimum UKRI level (currently £15,285 per annum for 2020/21). Study is scheduled to commence in October 2021.

The architectural history of the telephone exchange building does not exist. Partnered by British Telecom Archives and with advisory support from Historic England, this research will examine the organisational structures of the post-war nationalised state and its influence on the design of one of the most ubiquitous, yet overlooked building types in Britain. The research will examine the building typologically and within its governmental context.

The doctoral project researching the architectural and landscape design of twentieth-century infrastructure sits within a body of leading research at the Manchester School of Architecture. In 2019, supported by the Paul Mellon Fund, the academic supervisors convened a two-day international workshop, public lecture and conference on this topic. Their established partnerships with BT Archives and HE have identified gaps in knowledge and opportunities to connect both organisations’ archive collections, resulting in AHRC funding for two follow-on projects.

Using infrastructure as a methodological lens enables the exploration of its design as a nexus of architecture, engineering, technology, urbanism and landscape, and offers a novel means to reveal the materially productive qualities of the nationalised state in post-war Britain. The building type has existed for less than 150 years and is likely to all but vanish in the near future as the hardware used in telecommunications has shrunk immeasurably in scale. Exchanges are already being disposed of, either demolished or converted, and this will accelerate as technology advances. This research is timely and will be undertaken whilst this unique national network of buildings still exists.

Full details and how to apply can be found at this webpage.

Application deadline: 20 February 2021.

For an informal discussion, please contact Dr. Richard Brook – r.brook@mmu.ac.uk

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