Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Trinity Menu Trinity Search

Dr. Christopher CowellDr Christopher Cowell

Assistant Professor in the History of Architecture

Research interests

I am a historian of architecture and urbanism, space and material culture, across the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, with a particular focus on the architecture of the British Empire. My current research examines the role that the East India Company’s colonial armies played in the development of modern architecture and city-making in India through the construction of its cantonments (camps) across the northern subcontinent. My writing explores the relationship between the practice and theory of architecture and the politics and ideologies of colonialism. This intersection includes work on urban militarism, spatial security, hinterland ecologies, cartography, property, climate, disease, and race theory, among others. I have also written on the connection between architecture, malaria, and urban form in southern China, especially within the context of Hong Kong.

Selected Publications

  • ‘Borrowed Verses: Code and Representation Within the First Travelogue of the City of Hong Kong, 1841–42’, in Eleonora Sasso, ed., Late Victorian Orientalism: Representations of the East in Nineteenth-Century Literature, Art and Culture from the Pre-Raphaelites to John La Farge, London: Anthem Press, 2020.
  • ‘The Kacchā­–Pakkā Divide: Material, Space and Architecture in the Military Cantonments of British India (1765-1889)’, ABE (Architecture Beyond Europe) Journal 9–10, Paris: InVisu, December 2016.
  • Edward Ashworth, Artist & Architect: Fourteen Original Watercolour Studies of Hong Kong and Macau, 1844–46, Sydney: Hordern House, 2014.
  • ‘Tectonics of Paranoia: The Tropical Mat Shed System within the First Fabrication of Hong Kong’, in Michaela Rosso, ed., Investigating and Writing Architectural History: Subject, Methodologies and Frontiers, Turin: European Architectural History Network (EAHN), 2014.
  • ‘The 1843 Hong Kong Fever: Collective Trauma and the Reconfiguring of Colonial Space’, Modern Asian Studies 47, no. 2, March 2013, pp. 329­–364.


My teaching covers late-modern architecture across a broad historical trajectory and over different geographies. I currently teach the undergraduate introductory survey of late western architecture. Additional modules include classes on materials, space, theories, and technologies of architecture; eighteenth-century orientalism and the picturesque; nineteenth-century institutions of design and collecting; and twentieth-century postcolonialism. I also teach a module for the MPhil programme on the architecture of the ‘long’ nineteenth century.

Dr. Cowell on the TCD Research Support System

Contact Details

Department of History of Art and Architecture
School of Histories and Humanities
Arts Building
Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin
Dublin 2