Mr David Mountain

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Overview

I am a PhD Candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant in Architecture at the University of Manchester. I previously completed an MSc in Urban Studies at the Urban Lab (Human Geography), University College London. My undergraduate degree was in History of Art at the department of Visual Cultures, Goldsmiths, University of London.

My PhD research concerns the social and political history of 20th century urban decentralisation in the United Kingdom, including its often-posited end-point: the rise of inner city redevelopment policy in the 1980s. I look to reassess this history by making use of methods from architectural history, and by looking backwards from the perspective of a well-posited turning-point, the London Docklands Development Corporation, which is my primary case study. My research is both informed by, and seeks to contribute to, contemporary debates in urban theory, notably on the concept of Planetary Urbanization.

Supervisors: Dr Lukasz Stanek and Prof Kevin Ward

 

Research outline

The thesis investigates the beginning of the end of post-war urban decentralisation (decongestion, dispersal) in the United Kingdom, and attempts to provide an analysis of the rise of contemporary forces of urbanisation—urban regeneration and gentrification—which is historically grounded and at the same time of theoretical value to contemporary critical scholarship.

It does this through challenging the predominance of the year 1979 and Thatcher’s election as the primary point of recent historical disjuncture; instead it looks (1) to the legacy of 1968 and the liberal, counter-cultural challenge to the bureaucratic, administered society, and how Milton Keynes (the last successful, largest, and most economically successful of Britain’s new towns) was the product of a crisis in the post-war conception of the relationship of state and society, and (2) examines critically the initial development and self-conception of the Thatcher government’s London Docklands Development Corporation, showing how in its early years, its horizons for urbanisation were far more akin to those of Milton Keynes than to in its later years during the development of Canary Wharf.

The research therefore hypothesises a challenge to the black-and-white argumentation that 1970s urbanisation was ‘social democratic’ or ‘socialist’ and that 1980s urbanisation was ‘neoliberal’. Instead, by on the one hand making visible an ideological thread of reform which connects post-war decentralisation and present day concentrated urbanisation, and on the other hand posing the question of the meaning of the end of generalised urban decentralisation, I aim to provide a more accurate analysis of the ideological and historical specificity of contemporary concentrated urbanisation.

 

Placement

As part of my PhD, I initiated and conducted a 3-month research placement at an independent charity in Milton Keynes, the Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre (MKCDC). This was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and supplemented with 3-month PhD + funding extension. The outcomes of this placement were threefold:

  • I conducted archival research at MKCDC and local authority archive to assist the Heritage Lottery funded project “New Town Heritage Explorers”.
  • I conducted preliminary research and work formulating Manchester School of Architecture MArch research methods course: “Archives of (Energy) Transition” including student fieldtrip late 2019
  • I formulated, organised and chaired a roundtable discussion at ‘A Festival of Creative Urban Living’ (comissioned by Milton Keynes Council): ‘Planning and Community in the “Non-place Urban Realm”’, at Milton Keynes Gallery. For more details and audio recording see https://archive.org/details/planningandcommunityinthenonplaceurbanrealm

 

Teaching (GTA) work since January 2018

Masters of Architecture dissertation supervision assistance; Masters of Architecture research methods; BA Architecture ‘Architecture and Media’; BA Architecture ‘Architecture After Modernism’. Work undertaken with Lukasz Stanek, Lea-Catherine Szacka, Kim Förster, Luciana Lang.

I have held a large number of supervision meetings (Masters), marked assessed essays (BA), facilitated poster presentation sessions (BA), conducted archival research to support teaching (Masters), organised a field trip for students (Masters) and delivered lectures of up to 45 minutes (BA & Masters.)

Total of 250+ hours experience.

 

Other research

My master’s dissertation was a preliminary formation of my PhD research, which concerned the rise of the adaptive reuse of infrastructure in the London Docklands. Its theoretical slant was extended for publication in an edited volume that arose from participating in a panel on urban theory at the RGS-IBG annual conference in 2016. This book, "Emerging Urban Spaces: A Planetary Perspective”, was recently published in Springer’s Urban Book Series.

I volunteered for an oral history project on the Isle of Dogs and the history of the London Docklands Development Corporation, and, in addition to my master’s research, conducted a series of oral history interviews which have been lodged with Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives.

Aside from my PhD research, I have also conducted freelance research for an EU-funded NGO in south-west Macedonia, on the historical architecture of socialism, to the end of understanding the rise of ethno-nationalism in the region. This has led to demonstrable policy recommendations.

During my master’s degree, I contributed to a group report in conjunction with the London-based planning advocacy group Just Space on the potential of Land Value Capture in Opportunity Areas as designated by the Greater London Authority. My contributions focussed on the historical context, and on understanding the role of Opportunity Areas as part of a wider urban policy in London and south-east England.

 

Contact

Email: david.mountain@manchester.ac.uk

Quad A, 1st Floor

Arthur Lewis Building

University of Manchester

Manchester M13 9PL

Education / academic qualifications

  • 2017 - Master in Science, Urban Studies (Distinction), University College London (UCL) (2015 - 2017)
  • 2014 - Bachelor of Arts, History of Art (Hons, 1st), Goldsmiths College (University of London) (2011 - 2014)

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