Prof Christine Casey wins prestigious ERC Advanced Grant

Posted on: 13 July 2023

€2.5 million grant awarded to explore collective achievement in classical architecture of Ireland & Britain

Professor Christine Casey of Trinity’s School of Histories and Humanities has won a highly prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Advanced grant valued at €2.5 million.

The funding is for a five-year project entitled STONE-WORK which will reassess the history of architecture in Britain and Ireland through the medium of stone. Advanced Grants are the most competitive of the ERC awards, supporting exceptional leaders in terms of originality and significance of their research contributions. These grants, which support established research leaders in taking their research in a radically new direction, fund teams of researchers for up to five years and are among the most sought-after in the world of research.

From the hills of Carrara, Derbyshire and Wicklow to the building sites of Dublin and London, STONE-WORK will reassess the classical architecture of Britain and Ireland from the perspective of materials and making. Taking stone as its focus, the project will explore the trajectory of building materials from cavern and hillside, across land and sea to cutting, setting and carving on the building site.

By analysing the role of quarrying communities, trade networks and craft practice in building activity, the project will demonstrate the collective and interdependent nature of architectural production. This bottom-up approach counters traditional emphasis on the ingenuity of individual architects and patrons, the primacy of design and the privileging of ideas over materials and making.

The project will also explore the role of architects in the orchestration of building activity to produce a symmetrical understanding of architectural production in which the contributions of individuals and of the broader community are analysed and evaluated.

Entrance Hall, Castle Howard, Yorkshire , c.1705-1708. © CRAFTVALUEChristine Casey, Professor in Architectural History, said:

“The ERC grant will allow me to conduct research on materiality and making in architecture of unprecedented scope and scale. Until now, my research has sought to shift focus from designer to maker and to expand understanding of agency in creative activity. This grant allows me to situate these activities within a wider societal framework.

“By exploring the sourcing, supply, consumption and working of materials I hope to better understand and articulate the systemic nature of architectural production. I look forward to engaging with geologists, historians and conservation professionals to unpick the complex web of interactions that underpins the achievement of eighteenth-century architecture in Britain and Ireland.”




Congratulating Professor Casey, Dr Linda Doyle, Provost of Trinity said:

I am delighted to congratulate Christine on this well-deserved award. ERC Advanced Grants are the highest recognition of research excellence in Europe, and it is very fitting that Christine receive this acknowledgement given her outstanding contributions to understanding the history of craft and architecture.

“STONE-WORK is such an exciting and innovative project, challenging what we think we know about architectural process through its focus on the labour and materiality that are normally invisible in historical records. It is especially exciting that this project will shed new light on Trinity’s abundant architectural history through inclusion of our campus among the core study sites for the project.”

Prof Casey’s ERC award brings the total funding secured by Trinity researchers under the 2022 ERC funding calendar to over €15M, joining fellow ERC Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Proof of Concept Awardees. Since the inception of the ERC programme, over 60 ERC Starting, Consolidator, Advanced and Synergy grants and 19 Proof of Concept Grants have been won by Trinity researchers across all three faculties and 18 schools.

Former Parliament House, 1729-1739, now the Bank of Ireland, College Green, Dublin © CRAFTVALUE

Professor Sinead Ryan, Trinity’s Dean of Research added:

“STONE-WORK is a fascinating and ambitious endeavour, and it is testament to Christine’s research reputation that a project focusing on Anglo-Irish building history has been funded at an international level. The interdisciplinary nature of the project, combining architectural and craft history with socio-economic history and geology, has the potential to create a new benchmark for future historical research.”

More about the STONE-WORK Project:

STONE-WORK is a bottom-up, real-world, research project which aims to shift perspectives within and beyond academia towards an inclusive understanding of the built environment in which small voices and lost or hidden practices and standards are retrieved. It will open the way towards a view of architecture in which inter-dependence of all parts is fundamental to understanding of the whole.

To achieve these aims cross-disciplinary research is required combining architectural and craft history with geology and the findings of architectural conservation. The project will build upon previous collaborations between architectural historians and geologists at Trinity and will include research on building stone by Professor Patrick Wyse Jackson in the Department of Geology. The research will also engage with ongoing conservation work by major organisations for architectural heritage in Britain and Ireland including the National Trust and the Office of Public Works.

*Photo Caption 1: Entrance Hall, Castle Howard, Yorkshire , c.1705-1708. © CRAFTVALUE

*Photo Caption 2: Former Parliament House, 1729-1739, now the Bank of Ireland, College Green, Dublin © CRAFTVALUE

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