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Gordon Cullen’s Serial Visions: A Cinematic Urban Theory

Gordon Cullen’s Serial Visions: A Cinematic Urban Theory 

Researchers: Dr Marco Spada and Dr Carla Molinari*

Background and significance

During his long and various career as draftsman, architect, urban planner, consultant, and editor of the Architectural Review, Gordon Cullen (1914–1994) produced a huge amount of drawings and notes, developing innovative and original urban theories. His body of work, some of which collected in his famous book Townscape (later published in the UK as The Concise Townscape) made him one of the most versatile figures in British architectural panorama of the 20th century.

During his long collaboration with the AR, Cullen has indeed been deeply involved in the process of promoting the journal’s agenda based on the innovating concept of Townscape, working together with Hazel Hastings and Nikolaus Pevsner, among others. Cullen’s marked interest in drawings and sketches supported him in the development of a personal and unique way to transmit his ideas, as showed in particular in his serial visions.

Focus and originality

Gordon Cullen’s archive is held at the University of Westminster and is composed of 117 boxes. The collection had been deposited by Cullen's family in 2015 after had been stored in Cullen’s workspace for over twenty years. The collection consists of a series of notes, drawings, sketches, photos, and other relevant documents collected by Gordon Cullen during his life and career.

Aims and objectives

The main aim of this research is to re-evaluate Cullen’s contribution about the seminal British urban researches of the 50s, 60s, and 70s, finally stating his crucial role in influencing the contemporary development of new urban theories.

More specifically, the objectives of this research proposal are to:

  • Develop the listing and description of materials held at the Gordon Cullen archive;
  • Select and publish some original, never-published-before notes and sketches of Gordon Cullen;
  • Analyse and define Gordon Cullen’s serial visions method.

Marco Spada 0

“©Gordon Cullen Estate/Reproduced courtesy of University of Westminster Archive” .

* Senior Lecturer, Leeds Beckett University