[Adrian Forty]


Photo by Francesca Forty
Photo by Francesca Forty

Profession: Architectural Historian

Date of birth: 7 March 1948
Place of birth: Oxford, UK

Interviewer: Harriet Atkinson
Location of recording: Adrian Forty’s office at The Bartlett, UCL.

Adrian Forty is Professor of Architectural History at the Bartlett, UCL (University College London). He was educated at the Universities of Oxford (BA Modern History) and London (Courtauld Institute of Art, MA Art History; UCL Ph.D Architecture). He has written both on design, with his seminal Objects of Desire (1986), and on architecture, with Words and Buildings: A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture (2000). As well as a variety of essays and articles on diverse architectural topics, he co-edited The Art of Forgetting (1999) with Suzanne Kuechler and Brazil’s Modern Architecture (2004) with Elisabetta Andreoli. Presently, he is engaged on a world-wide study of the relationship between concrete and culture in the twentieth century.

Extracts have been selected by Juliette Kristensen with the consent of Adrian Forty.

Tuesday 11 December 2007
[Forty Track 1]
[Forty Track 2] with audio extract about the design of the childhood home in the 1950s.
[Forty Track 3] with audio extract about studying at the Courtauld, and his studies of design history in relation to art history.
[Forty Track 4]

Thursday 3 January 2008
[Forty Track 5]
[Forty Track 6]
[Forty Track 7]
[Forty Track 8]
[Forty Track 9] with audio extract about writing Objects of Desire whilst living in a shared house in Notting Hill with a number of feminist intellectuals, and how feminism informed the intellectual framework of the subject.
[Forty Track 10] with audio extract about publishing Objects of Desire, and how design history relates to his current approach as an architectural historian.
[Forty Track 11]

Friday 18 January 2008
[Forty Track 12]
[Forty Track 13]
[Forty Track 14] with audio extract about how his background has influenced his work, and how the disciplines of art, architectural and design history have variously interacted with his intellectual trajectory.
[Forty Track 15] with audio extract about the future of the disciplines of architectural and design history, and the differences between teaching the discipline in an art history department and an architectural school.

End of recording

Adrian Forty Publications


Forty, A., and E. Andreoli, Brazil’s Modern Architecture, Phaidon, London, 2004

Forty, A. Words and Buildings. A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture, Thames and Hudson (London and New York), 2000 (Italian Translation 2004, Japanese Translation 2006)

Forty, A., and S. Kuechler, The Art of Forgetting, Berg, Oxford, 1999.

Forty, A. Objects of Desire, Design and Society since 1750, London (Thames and Hudson) and Pantheon (New York), 1986, 245pp. (Japanese translation 1992; Korean translation 1998; Portuguese translation 2006)

Book Chapters

Forty, A. 'Primitive, the word and concept' Chapter 1 in J. Odgers, F. Samuel, and A. Sharr, (ed.s) The Primitive, Original Matters in Architecture. Abingdon, Oxon.: Routledge, 2006, p.3-14.

Forty, A. 'A Material Without a History' in J-L Cohen and G.M. Moeller, (ed.s) Liquid Stone: New Architecture in Concrete. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006, p.34-45.

Forty, A. ‘An Architecture of Respect’, in Tony Fretton Architects, Designing the Warsaw Embassy, Navado Press, Trieste, 2006, p.76-95.

Forty, A. ‘Cement and Multiculturalism’, in F. Hernandez, M. Millington and I. Borden (ed.s), Transculturation, Cities, Spaces and Architectures in Latin America, Rodopi, Amsterdam and New York, 2005, p.144-154.

Forty, A. ‘Concrete and Memory’ in M. Crinson, (ed.), Urban Memory, History and Amnesia in the Modern City, Routledge, Abingdon and New York, 2005, p.75-95.

Forty, A. ‘Pevsner the Writer’, in P. Draper (ed.), Reassessing Nikolaus Pevsner, Ashgate, Aldershot, 2004, p.87-93.

Forty, A. ‘The Uncanny Object’ in T. Peters and J. West (ed.s), The Uncanny Room, Luminous Books, London, 2002, p.7-11.

Forty, A. ‘The Royal Festival Hall – a "Democratic" Space?’, in I. Borden, J. Kerr, J.Rendell with A. Pivaro (ed.s), The Unknown City, MIT Press, 2001, p.201-212.

Forty, A. ‘Reyner Banham, “one partially Americanized European”, in L. Campbell (ed.), Twentieth Century Architecture and its Histories, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, 2000, p195-206.

Forty, A. ‘ “Spatial Mechanics”: Scientific Metaphors in Architecture’, in P. Galison and E. Thompson, (ed.s), The Architecture of Science, MIT Press, 1999, p.213-232.

Forty, A. ‘Masculine, Feminine or Neuter?’, in D. McQuorquodale, K. Ruedi, and S. Wigglesworth (ed.s), Desiring Practices. Architecture, Gender and the Interdisciplinary, London, 1996, p.140-155.

Forty, A. ‘Versailles - a Political Theme Park?’ in I. Borden and D. Dunster (ed.s), Architecture and the Sites of History, Oxford, 1995, p.53-64.

Forty, A. ‘Common Sense and the Picturesque’, in Borden and Dunster, ibid., p.176-186.

Forty, A. ‘The City Without Qualities’, in Borden and Dunster, ibid., p.304-316.

Forty, A. ‘Charles Harrison Townsend’, in C.S. Nicholls (ed.), Dictionary of National Biography, Missing Persons, Oxford, 1993, p..677-8.

Forty, A. ‘Disegn e meccanizzazione: il prodotto standardizzato’, in E. Castelnuovo and V. Gregotti, (ed.s), Storia del Disegno Industriale, v.2, 1851-1918, Electa, Milan, 1990, p.52-67.

Forty, A. ‘Design’, in E. Barnouw (ed.), The International Encyclopaedia of Communications, v.2, OUP, New York, 1989, p.4-9.

Forty, A. ‘Le Corbusier’s British Reputation’, in Le Corbusier Architect of the Century, Arts Council, London, 1987, p.35-41.

Forty, A. ‘The Modern Hospital in England and France: the social and medical uses of architecture’, in Anthony D. King (ed.), Buildings and Society, London, 1980, p.61-93.

Forty, A. ‘Festival Politics’, in M. Banham and B. Hillier (ed.s), A Tonic to the Nation, London, 1976, p.26-38.

Forty, A. ‘The Electric Home’, Unit 20 of Open University Course A 305, The History of Architecture and Design 1890-1939, 1975, p.39-62.


Forty, A. ‘Being or Nothingness: Private Experience and Public Architecture in Post War Britain’, Architectural History, v. 38, 1995, p.25-35.

Forty, A. ‘A Reply to Victor Margolin’, Journal of Design History, v. 6, no. 2, 1993, pp.131-2. (Reprinted in Design Issues, v. 11, no.1, Spring 1995, p.16-18, with extended discussion).

Forty, A.‘The Legacy of Modernism’, Design Quarterly, no. 153, Fall 1991, p.27-31.

Forty, A. ‘Of Cars, Clothes and Carpets: Design Metaphors in Architectural Thought’, Journal of Design History, v. 2, no. 1, 1989, p.1-14.

Selected Other Publications

Forty, A. ‘Just Another Material?’, A+U [special issue on concrete], February 2006.

Forty, A. ‘The Comfort of Strangeness’, 2G [special issue on Sergison Bates] no.34, 2005, pp.76-83.

Forty, A. ‘Ohne Zeit’, Werk, Bauen+Wohnen, no.s 1-2, 2005, pp.16-19.

Forty, A. ‘Image is Everything’, Building Design, 5 March 2004, p.24.

Forty, A. ‘As Good as their Word?’, Building Design, 6 February 2004, p.24.

Forty, A. ‘Number Crunching’, Building Design, 12 December 2003, p.32.

Forty, A. ‘Unmoving Floor Show’, Building Design, 7 November 2003, p.28.

Forty, A. ‘How en suite life is today’, Building Design, 3 October 2003, p.28.

Forty, A. ‘Watch this Space’, Building Design, 4 July 2003, p.28.

Forty, A. ‘Perret and the English’, Building Design, 30 May 2003, p.28.

Forty, A. ‘Just the Tonic’, Building Design, 25 April 2003, p.32.

Forty, A. ‘Validity Politics’, Building Design, 21 March 2003, p.32.

Forty, A. ‘Hospital Corner’, Building Design, 14 February 2003, p.24.

Forty, A. ‘Dirty Minds’, Building Design, 10 January 2003, p.28.

Forty, A. ‘Kitchen Confidential’, Building Design, 15 November 2002, p.24.

Forty, A. ‘Smooth Finish’, Buidling Design, 11 October 2002, p.24.

Forty, A. ‘Material World’, Building Design, 6 September 2002, p.32.

Forty, A. ‘Saint Nikolaus’, Building Design, 19 July 2002, p.28.

Forty, A. ‘The Twist in Detail’, Building Design, 21 June 2002, p.28.

Forty, A. ‘London: Private City, Public City’, World Architecture (Beijing), June 2002, p.18-23.

Forty, A. ‘Square but not Square’, Building Design, 24 May 2002, p.24.

Forty, A. ‘Set and Match’, Building Design, 26 April 2002, p.28.

Forty, A. ‘Future Imperfect’, Architectural Design, vol.72, no.3, May/June 2002, p.111-116.

Forty, A. ‘Past Imperfect’, Architectural Design, vol.72, no.2, March/April 2002, p.98-100.

Forty, A. ‘“Europe is no more than a nation made up of several others…”, Thoughts on Architecture and Nationality, Prompted by the Taylor Institute and the Martyrs Memorial in Oxford’, AA Files, no.32, 1996, p.26-37.

Forty, A. ‘Industrial Design and Prosthesis’, Ottagono, no.96, September 1990, p.114-129.

Forty, A. ‘The Lure of the Picturesque’, Architecture Today, no.11, September 1990, p.44,47.

Forty, A. ‘The Mary Ward Settlement’, Architects’ Journal, vol.190, 2 August 1989, p.28-49.

Forty, A. ‘Taylorism and Modern Architecture’, RIBA Transactions, no.9, 1985-6, p.73-81.

Forty, A. and H. Moss, ‘The Success of Pseudo-Vernacular’, Architectural Review, vol.147, February 1980, p.73-78.

Forty, A. ‘Housewife’s Aesthetic’, Architectural Review, vol.162, November 1977, p.284-286.

Forty, A. ‘Design History: a Politique and a Pedagogy’, Architectural Association Quarterly, vol.5, no.4, Winter 1973, p.48-9.

Forty, A. ‘Wireless Style: Design of the English Radio Cabinet 1928-33’ Architectural Association Quarterly, vol.4, no.2, Spring 1973, p.23-31.

Conference Proceedings

Forty, A. ‘Cold War Concrete’, in M. Kalm, I. Ruudi (ed.s), Constructed Happiness, Domestic Environment in the Cold War Era, Estonian Academy of Arts Proceedings, 16, 2005, p.28-44.

Forty, A. ‘The Sixties: Architecture’s Best Years?’ in P. Korvenmaa and E. Laaksonen, Universal Versus Indiividual: the Architecture of the 1960s, Alvar AAlto Academy, Helsinki, 2002.

Forty, A. ‘The Empire of Language’, in G. Zimmermann & N. Korrek (ed.s), Thesis, 9th Internationales Bauhaus-Kolloquium Weimar 2003, ‘Medium Architektur’, Band 1, p.16-21.