Special issue: Historical narratives of public health in the built environment

An Architecture_MPS journal special issue.

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Historical narratives of public health in the built environment

An Architecture_MPS journal special issue.


To say we are living in ‘unprecedented times’ has, in the last two years, become trite or banal. Yet, while the COVID-19 virus that spread in early 2020 was novel, the way the subsequent pandemic fundamentally challenged our understanding of the appropriate design, governance, and inhabitation of the built environment, was far from unprecedented. Adopting a historical perspective, each paper in this issue analyses how a major event such as fire, war, or disease, shifted the interactions between public health and the built environment.

In her analysis of the 1883 - 1947 cholera epidemics in Egypt, Alexandra Schultz describes the acts of resistance performed by the Egyptian people in response to discriminatory health practices, drawing important links with resistance COVID-19 control measures in communities where trust in government has been broken.

Nicholas Clarke’s investigation of the impact of the Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 - 1919 in South Africa describes how communities developed facilities to care for their own, often importing contemporary ideas regarding healthcare as well as modernist architectural principles.

The merging of modernist architectural principles with an interdisciplinary approach to mental healthcare is also a theme within Christina Malathouni’s study of two Admission Units that were added to existing mental health hospitals in post-World War II England.

Finally, Susan Brandt and Anne Marie Sowder analyse a series of tragic social club fires in New York between 1970 and 1990 and place them in the political and bureaucratic context of New York at the time and the problems this presented to enforcing safety regulations, especially in marginalised communities.


Publication date: January 2023 - articles are being published as and when ready on an on-going basis and will appear below.


Guest Editors

Seyeon Lee, Syracuse University, USA
Tara Hipwood, Northumbria University, UK

Seyeon Lee is an Associate Professor in the School of Design, Syracuse University. Lee holds PhD in Architecture from Texas A&M University, Master in Architecture and Bachelor in Environmental Design from Montana State University. Her research focuses on innovations in sustainable and affordable architectural design, user-centered community design, sustainable design practices for affordable and low-income housing and community development. Prior to working as an academic, Lee worked in the design and construction industry for over 14 years. She is a NCIDQ certified interior designer and a LEED Accredited Professional.

Tara Hipwood is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Northumbria University. Following qualification and practice as an RIBA Chartered Architect, working on projects in the public, healthcare and residential sectors, she undertook a PhD at Cardiff University examining owner-occupier low carbon retrofit through a practice theory lens. Her current research continues to explore low carbon retrofit within the wider context of home improvements and adaptations, particularly in light of the COVID pandemic and the inequalities in health to which poor quality housing contributes.


Article list

Articles will be listed here upon publication.


‘Unprecedented times’: historical narratives of public health in the built environment

Authors: Tara Hipwood, Seyeon Lee
Published: 04 April 2023


Contextualising tragedy in places of assembly through cases of New York City social club fires

Authors: Susan Brandt, Anne Marie Sowder
Published: 04 April 2023


Preserving home: resistance to cholera sanitation procedures in Egypt

Author: Alexandra Schultz
Published: 01 March 2023


Disease and design in twentieth-century South Africa: exploring the consequences of the 1918–19 Spanish Flu pandemic through contributions of émigré Dutch architects

Author: Nicholas John Clarke
Published: 08 February 2023


‘In line with the modern conception of much mental illness’: psychiatric reforms and architectural design contributions in post-war England

Author: Christina Malathouni
Published: 25 January 2023


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