The (dis)assembling of form: revealing the ideas built in to Manchester’s medical school

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper addresses a gap in our understanding of medical history - the architecture of medical schools - and demonstrates the ways in which architectural form can be used to better understand medical epistemology and pedagogy. It examines an instructive case study - the late-nineteenth century medical school buildings in Manchester - and examines the concepts that were drawn together and expressed in the buildings. Through its exploration, the paper argues first, that medical schools and spaces for medical education should be given greater consideration as a significant category in the history of medical buildings. Second, that buildings such as its case study, are an important source of evidence and means to understand the role of medicine in society and the ideas with which its contemporary practitioners and educators were concerned. Third, the paper argues that, to make best use of buildings as sources, we should view them as agents which have assembled divergent ideas and incorporated them into the built form. In this way, such buildings have woven into them an inventory of ideas which can be untangled using designs and physical evidence.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Jun 2019