My primary interest concerning architecture focuses on the connections between architectural education and practice. As an academic within this broad realm, I have a specialist knowledge of the Académie Royale d’Architecture and the enduring influence it has had on the subsequent architectural educational tradition; and as an architectural practitioner I seek to harness the cross contamination of theory and practice. Of particular interest to me is how an understanding of historic architectural education can contribute to the current debate held in schools of architecture today. The pioneering pursuits of the leaders of the Académie Royale d’Architecture remain ingrained in our current architectural educational context. The holistic matters that they grappled with primarily related to the appropriateness of architectural education, and how a student’s work is to be measured; the very same matters that are becoming increasingly important to our current debate, especially in light of the fast changing technological, legal and environmental landscapes in architectural practice.
My interests in architectural education and practice stem from what I perceive to be two fundamental challenges that have become increasingly relevant in recent years; firstly, that architectural education is becoming progressively more difficult for students to afford, and secondly, the architectural profession that education seeks to address is undergoing rapid and complex change. These challenges have provoked me to think again through the topic of ‘ownership’ of architectural education. They have caused me to lean towards the notion that architectural education should not be the sole preserve of schools and universities, but present throughout an architect’s career; this is especially true for a teacher of architecture. It would seem, therefore, that a teacher’s greatest pursuit is to model and encourage a life-long desire to question the status-quo, such that the next generation of architects provide socially and environmentally responsible architecture which people really enjoy.
My research during recent years has been focussed towards the origins of academic architectural education and the lasting influence of the Académie Royale d’Architecture on the architectural education tradition. The work forms the basis of a book that will be published next year and which seeks to address four exploratory areas:
- An original exploration. The book will be the first complete work to chronicle the rise, activities, and suppression of the Académie Royale d’Architecture. The Académie Royale d’Architecture was the first institution to be dedicated solely for the benefit of the architectural profession and for the instruction of architecture. The study is necessary because, despite the important role that the Académie has played in the history of architectural education, no one volume exists that captures its story. In many respects the Académie lends itself to the subject of a book; the dates of its formation and closure are clearly defined, its contribution to the wider realm of architectural education is considerable, and its history recounts a critical period of time stretching from the point at which architectural education became a distinct discipline to when it was almost entirely quashed during the tyrannies of the French Revolution.
- A benefit to existing exploration. The book will benefit the substantial body of scholarly work already dedicated to celebrated intuitions that emerged from the Académie. The story of western academic architectural education is missing an account of its origins. Many architectural schools that emerged from the Académie have received a substantial degree of scholarly attention, yet their academic beginnings have only been partially told.
- A broad exploration. The book attracts a wider readership base by placing the Académie within the context of the eighteenth century French Enlightenment, and places it in the context of a broader artistic, philosophical, religious, technological and political landscape. The forces that formed the Académie and forged the ideologies it fostered did not occur in a vacuum, but emanated from wider contemporaneous beliefs, values, constraints and personal ambitions (together with a number of whimsical ideas held by powerful individuals).
- A tangible exploration. The book studies examples of build works by academic Membres and examines the degree to which they imbue the ideologies of their designers. An understanding of any given architectural ideology is often most readily apprehended when observing the built forms created by those who propagated the ideology. Almost all prestigious architectural commissions undertaken in Paris during the eighteenth century were by Membres of the Académie.
In addition to this core interest, I have also written papers on field trips to Holland and Barcelona, and argued the benefits of using geocaching in site analysis.
- Due 2018, The Rise of Architectural Academic Architecture | Routledge, Routledge Research in Architectural history series, To be published in Hardback and eBook
- 1995, Goddards: Sir Edwin Lutyens | Phaidon Press, Production of hand drawings
Conference papers, publications and research activities
- 2015 – 2018, Chapters relating to The Rise of Architectural Academic Architecture.
- 2014, Using Geocaching as a Teaching Tool with Student Architects, Charrette, 1 (2), pp. 51-56. ISSN 2054-6718.
- 2014, Geocaching MOOC’s and the investigation of virtual places, In: MOOCs - Which way now?, 27 June 2014, University College London.
- 2013, Teaching Creatively, Learning Creativity: The Non-Assessed Field Trip, University of Huddersfield.
- 2013, Académie Royale d’Architecture and Current Architectural Studio Culture, In: Association of Architectural Educators Conference, April 2013, Nottingham University.
- 2013, Teach Creatively, Learn Creativity: The Non-Assessed Field Trip, In: AAE Association of Architectural Educators Conference 2013, 3rd-5th April 2013, Nottingham University.
- 2011, Creation of Flickr Information Resource Bank (FIRB), Huddersfield University.
- 2011, 25 Research Things, Web 2.0 technologies, Huddersfield University.
- 2010, The Benefits of the Field Trip in Architectural Education, lecture at the Huddersfield University Academic Festival, Huddersfield University.
- 1998, Chairman | Lost in Space, Lost in Space was smarter than many academic conferences ... Alex Griffin is to be commended | Architect’s Journal
- I am a member of the International Awareness: MOOC bid project team.
Griffin, A (2014) ‘Using geocaching as a teaching tool with student architects’
, 1 (2), pp. 51-56. ISSN 2054-6718
Griffin, A (2014) ‘Geocaching MOOCs and the investigation of virtual places’.
In: MOOCs - Which way now?, 27 June 2014, University College London
Griffin, A (2013) ‘Académie Royale dArchitecture and current architectural studio culture’.
In: Association of Architectural Educators Conference 2013, April 2013, Nottingham University
Griffin, A (2013) ‘Teach Creatively, Learn Creativity: The Non-Assessed Field Trip’.
In: AAE Association of Architectural Educators Conference 2013, 3rd-5th April 2013, Nottingham, UK
I am a PhD supervisor and I supervise Master level research dissertations. Areas of supervision include architectural history, theory, design, and education.
Students recently supervised.
- Thomas Smith
- Nicholas Tansella
- Marshall Davis
- Mariam Daudu
- Emanuela Di Mucci
- Win Duong
- Robert Irving
- Partick Broderick
- Laura Fisher
- Matlis Miltos
I undertake all administrative responsibilities associated with leading a year course.
- 1998 – 2008, PhD - The Académie Royale d’Architecture and the French Architectural Academic Tradition, Sheffield University, Awarded Academic Scholarship, Supervisor - Prof. Peter Blundell-Jones, Assessors - Prof. Jeremy Till | Prof. Dean Hawkes
- 1996 – 1998, Dipl Arch, Dissertation of the Year Award, Liverpool John Moores University
- 1992 – 1995, BA Hons International Architecture, University of Huddersfield and University of Amman, Student RIBA Representative, Chairman, Student Architectural AssociationTeaching
- I was appointed by the University of Huddersfield in 2002 as a Lecturer in the Department of Architecture. I currently work on a permanent 0.5 basis as a Senior Lecturer on the Architecture course and the MArch course.
- I am a PhD and MArch supervisor.
- I am a visiting design and technology tutor and technology assessor for the Masters architectural course at Sheffield University.
My previous and current teaching roles include:
- Supervising PhD students.
- Tutoring MA Architecture students and MSc students and assessing dissertations.
- Visiting students in positions of professional placement.
- Writing and appraising module documents comprising teaching subject material and assessment criteria, and induction material.
- Responsibilities associated with Years 1 and 2 Leader, including: writing the teaching programme including project briefs and corresponding workshops and other activities.
- Teaching and mentoring Years 1and 2 students (numerous studio based modules) using:
- workshops that are creative and enjoyable,
- lectures that seek to answer specific questions,
- tutorials that inclusive to everyone, and reviews and
- feedback sessions that are honest and gracious.
- Reviewing, examining and moderating student work, and participating in Course Assessment Boards.
- Planning and leading student excursions to Holland and Barcelona that offer opportunities to observe, discuss, and record the experience of architecture through photograph and drawn artwork, and encourage group camaraderie.
- Reflecting and evaluating the Year 2 course and coordinating student feedback at the academic year end.
- Provision of pastoral and supervisory care to students.
Throughout my teaching I emphasise a strong social and environment ethos. My work with live projects in rural areas of Africa, most notably in South Africa in recent years, has lead me to value architecture in a means to sustain communities and the environments they occupy. A consideration of social and sustainable matters should be prevalent in all aspects of architecture and at all times.
I have worked in private practice since 1998 and have gained numerous awards. In 2008 I founded Oblong Architecture. My built project work spans a wide range of scales and building typologies from minimalist glass pods to the conversion of one of Britain’s largest malting complexes into a micro village. I was also a lead architect in the master-planning of Holbeck Urban Village, Leeds.
- Founder, Oblong Architecture, 2008 to date
- Team Leader, Allen Tod Architecture, Leeds, 2005–2008
- Associate, West & Machell Architects, Leeds, 1998–2005
- Hannah House, RIBA White Rose Award, 2001
- Hannah House, Leeds Award for Architectural Excellence in Places and Spaces, 2001
- Hannah House, Commendation for National Civic Trust, 2001