I am a practicing architect teaching design studio in Architectural and Environmental Design at Sheffield Hallam University and lecturing in Urban Strategies and the History of Cities.
Within postgraduate student projects I have investigated a range of urban conditions: urban networks (Network city: Utrecht 2016), migration and social inclusion (Migrant city, Lisbon 2015), urban legacies (Legacy, potteries, Stoke 2013) which study a range of social and cultural contexts through urban and architectural intervention.
Through urban sketching and landscape drawing I have also been interested in how cities evolve and how transient urban conditions are. Many of the cities of the ancient world are virtually unknown to us today and some of the largest contemporary urban settlements have been established within a generation. The consideration that architecture and urban forms are both transient and environmentally fragile led me to an interest in the formative influence of geology, not merely as a material of construction but in the deeper perspective of architectural and urban history. Through observation rather than training I began a series of drawings entitled Geologue, based on travel sketching and project studies.
Geologue: In the 24 hr clock of the earth’s history, human activity has accounted for roughly half a second and architectural history for merely the period of a camera shutter opening. Spending time between Britain’s east and west coast (Staithes and Anglesey) and driving through America’s Pacific coast I have been sketching geological features, reflecting on their formative influence on landscape. In geological time we are in a transitional phase, leaving a period of ice age at an unprecedented rate (climate change) caused by human activity in the last microsecond of global history.
Neil Stevenson is an architect having previously practiced in Tokyo, London and Manchester. He currently teaches in postgraduate design studio and lectures in the History of Cities at Sheffield Hallam University.