Starting on Thursday 23 February, architectural historian, lecturer and tour guide Lettie Mckie will be teaching A Decolonial Introduction to London Architecture. This unique course combines a mixture of interactive lectures, small group discussions and a walking tour. We wanted to learn about Lettie's love for the subject, as well as get details on what you can expect:
Where does your love of architecture stem from?
I've always loved history as it provides a connection to past lives and societies so different, yet familiar to our own. I think I'm drawn to architecture partly because historic buildings are all around us. You don't need to go to a museum or library to learn about history, it's right there in the street. This is especially true in a place like London where we have such a rich tapestry of buildings from all different periods and styles.
What stories can buildings tell us about the past?
Buildings tell us about the people who made them, the architects, but also the patrons and people who used them. They tell us what their tastes were, they tell us about their knowledge of engineering and building materials, and most importantly (I think) they tell us what they cared about, what their values were. For me architectural history is about looking at buildings not as venerable art objects to be unquestionably admired, but as giant primary sources for understanding the society from which they came.
What can someone expect to learn from your course?
This course is perfect for those new to learning about London's architecture. It is an introduction to architectural history, taught specifically through a decolonial lens. We'll be looking at the history of London's architecture from 1600 onwards and learning to contextualise its imperial history as we go along. We will be asking what important decolonial questions have been left out of traditional accounts on the subject. This is about taking an anti-racist approach to learning about canonical architecture, thinking about, for example, the links between these buildings and colonial wealth built on slavery.