The Facades of Fairground Architecture Lecture by Professor Stephen Walker

10 Jun 2022 10:00 - 11:00

Professor Stephen Walker has a fascination for the transient structures of the fairground and has been researching the topic for many years. He follows the footsteps of fellow architect David Braithwaite, whose research opened an entirely new field of art and architecture history, examining the layout, construction and visual art of the fair for the first time.

This lecture examines the architectural facades of the British fairground and their influence on the work of groups such as Archigram, whose provocative architectural proposals emphasised mobility, new technology and popular culture. Professor Walker’s research has mainly been focused on the Orton & Spooner engineering company who manufactured some of the best rides and showfronts of the British fairground at the turn of the twentieth century.

Speaker Profile: Professor Stephen Walker trained as an architect and worked for architectural and design practices in London before joining the studio of Gabriel Allende and Antonio Ruiz Barbarín in Madrid, where he worked for two years.

Since returning to the UK, he worked in practice before studying for an MA in Architecture and Critical Theory at the University of Nottingham, and obtaining his PhD at the University of Sheffield.

He taught in the Faculty of Art and Design at Nottingham Trent University for five years before being appointed Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Sheffield in 2001, where he worked until 2017.

Prof. Walker is currently Professor and Head of Architecture at the University of Manchester.

His latest book, the Fair Line and the Good Frontage, offers an extensive consideration of the fairground showfront, a subject widely undocumented in academia. It brings the showfront alongside architectural theories of surface, which have been influenced by philosophical work on aesthetics and the perception of surface. The book explores philosophies of the material, constructional, representational and decorative evolution of the showfront, and the boundaries created through the physical arrangement of the rides at the fair.

He regularly uses fairground architecture as the basis of his academic research and teaching.