Dr. Tanja Poppelreuter
School of Science, Engineering and Environment
Reader in the History and Theory of Architecture
Tanja Poppelreuter is a Reader in Architectural Humanities. Her research interests lie in the field of 20th-century art and architectural theory with a focus on the impact of politics, gender, exile, as well as space perception on these fields. She received her PhD in Art History from the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, Germany and has taught Art History and Architectural History and Theory at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, Ulster University, Belfast, Queens University, Belfast and the University of Salford. Here she is the director of Postgraduate Research Studies in the School of Science, Engineering and Environment.
Her research shifts the attention from the architectural object to architects’ intentions of composing spatial experiences and also to theories on the transformative capabilities of space on the human mind. Drawing on a range of philosophical thought and reconsidering pre-existing assumptions on modern architecture this is addressed in her publications Das Neue Bauen für den Neuen Menschen (2007), “Social-Individualism” (2011), “Sensation of Space and Modern Architecture” (2012), “Raumplan after Loos” (2015), “Spaces for the elevated personal life” (2016) and “Alive. Changing. New” (2019), among others.
Her latest publications consider the experiences of women with an education in architecture in exile. This research analyses the cultural and professional challenges associated with exile and draws on theoretical frameworks within gender studies and exile studies to suggest an alternative way of presenting historical events. In concentrating on transnational networks, events, actors and architectural productions this research draws out subject matter seldomly documented in conventional historiography. Such themes are addressed in her papers “Women Architects in Exile: Methodological Challenges in Historiography” (2021), “Sustaining Independence” (2021), “This is not a Success Story” (2021), and “Architect without prefix” (forthcoming).
She is the editor of "Glamour and Gloom", a collection of student papers published by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society. This book on Modernist buildings of the 1930s supported research and writing by students and raised awareness of the often overlooked architectural heritage of the 1930s.
Her latest research project "The Modern Backdrop" investigates the modernisation of Salford between 1950 and 1975. The project is funded by the Paul Mellon Centre on Studies in British Art and run in collaboration with the RIBA NW and the Modernist Society. A website and blog can be found at hub.salford.ac.uk/modern-salford. Her work was recognised by the David Saunders Founders Grant, the Milka Bliznakov Research Prize and the Heritage Angel Award. She is a member of the Board of Advisors of the International Archives of Women in Architecture (IAWA) in Blacksburg, Virginia, of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI) group of the RIBA North West and the Strategic Planning Committee of the Society of Architectural Historians.
Areas of research
Perception of Space, Feminism, Gender, Exile, Architecture
My teaching employs a diverse range of methods from lecture-based learning to a variety of workshops, seminars and other activities that are all goal-oriented and aimed at equipping students with the skills to enhance their critical reading, writing and thinking. An example is the book Glamour and Gloom. 1930s Architecture in Belfast that I edited and that was published by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS) in November 2017. The book is the result of my teaching history and theory modules and supervising dissertations and it consists of case studies and essays written by architecture students. This project was developed to support young researchers, to increase awareness of modern buildings within the general public, and to add to the knowledge and understanding of the complexities of heritage and preservation in the growing and changing city of Belfast.
Most of my recent publications discuss exiled architects between 1933 and the early 1950s. My paper ‘Changing Places. New Zealand Houses by Winkler & Eisenhofer 1958 to 1969,’ for example, has shown how the emigrant architects Erwin Winkler and Fritz Eisenhofer navigated the architectural climate of the 1950s and 1960s in New Zealand. At that time New Zealand architects aimed to develop a national architectural idiom that was distinct for their place, climate and culture. As emigrants Winkler and Eisenhofer built modern houses that were not aligned with such ambitions but instead were inspired by Scandinavian and American precedents. The paper ‘Raumplan after Loos’ discusses the European Work of Heinrich Kulka, who immigrated to New Zealand in 1938. It discusses the ways in which Kulka interpreted and developed Adolf Loos’ Raumplan principles. The paper ‘Before 1939. Émigré architects to New Zealand 1933 to 1939,’ retraces the backgrounds and work experiences of a number of architects prior to them immigrating to New Zealand.
Since winning the Milka Bliznakov Research Prize in 2016 I have been working on a book project on German-speaking women architects who fled the Nazi Regime to the USA prior to 1940. The Milka Bliznakov Research Prize is organised by the International Archives of Women in Architecture. The primary material of refugee women that is held at their archives is going to be the core of this project.
Since my doctoral thesis Das Neue Bauen für den Neuen Menschen I am furthermore investigating how early 20th-century architects sought to develop architectural spaces based on theoretical ideas of the dweller. My papers ‘Sensations of Space and modern Architecture’ and ‘Spaces of elevated personal life’ offer insights as to how architects utilised theories that had been developed in subject areas such as medicine, philosophy or biology to create architectural spaces.
I am also very interested in architectural heritage and while I worked in Belfast, I was a member of the Historic Building Council, and DoCoMoMo Ireland.
- PhD in Art History
- Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice)
- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ästhetik (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ästhetik)
- DoCoMoMo Ireland (http://www.docomomo.ie)
- Netzwerk Flüchtlingsforschung (http://fluechtlingsforschung.net)