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Dr Simona Valeriani


  • Dr Simona Valeriani
  • Area

    School of Arts & Humanities


    Senior Tutor (V&A)

  • Dr. Valeriani is an historian of architecture and technology, with a background as a building archaeologist

    She has undertaken research on German and British architecture from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, with an interest in urban history.

    One focus of her research is the role played by artefacts and physical spaces in the creation of knowledge in the early modern period in a global perspective.

    The specificity of knowledge embodied in artefacts and people has not only been a theme of her historical investigations, but also very much at the core of her research led teaching comprising hands on experimental methods.

  • Biography

  • After graduating in Architecture and attending the first year of the Scuola di Specializzazione in Restauro dei Monumenti at the University of Genoa (Italy), Dr Valeriani was awarded a grant by the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft to pursue a PhD programme in History of Art, Building Archaeology and Theory of Conservation (TU Berlin-University of Bamberg).

    During this period she developed further her expertise in the field of building archaeology and participated in collaborative, interdisciplinary projects.

    Her PhD thesis provided the first historical overview of carpentry technologies in Rome from late antiquity to the eighteenth century, and includes findings from fieldwork that she conducted in a number of Basilicas of Early Christian origin. It was published as a monograph, Kirchendächer in Rom- Capriate Ecclesiae,  in 2006. 

    She joined the V&A/RCA History of Design programme in 2012, having worked for several years in the Economic History Department at the London School of Economics. There she widened her intellectual horizons, both disciplinary and geographically, acquiring experience in the field of the history and philosophy of science as well as in global history and developing further her interest and expertise in the history of technology.

    At LSE she worked on two projects: ‘How Well Do Facts Travel?’ (funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the ESRC) and ‘Useful and reliable Knowledge in the East and the West’ (funded by the European Research Council).  

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  • External collaborations

  • Columbia University: Making and Knowing Project

    International Research Network: ArchitecturalModels in Context: creativity, skill and spectacle

    Funded by the AHRC : Principal Investigator
    The Architectural Association
    Architekturmuseum der Technische Universität München (TUM)
    Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Modèles et simulations pour l’Architecture et le Patrimoine (MAP)
    École pratique des hautes études, Sorbonne/ Research Unit EA 7347 Histoire de l'art, des représentations et de l'administration dans l'Europe moderne et contemporaine (HISTARA)
    Royal institute of British Architects
    Sir John Soane’s Museum

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  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Exhibitions and Displays 

    (2018) Building the Royal Albert Hall, Victoria and Albert Museum, May 2017–7 Jan 2018. 

    (2013) Matters of Thoughts: Models and Knowledge-production in the Early Royal Society, The Royal Society, 13 September–13 November 2013.


    Valeriani, S. (2006) Kirchendächer in Rom - Capriate Ecclesiae, Berliner Beiträge zur Bauforschung und Denkmalpflege III, Petersberg: Imhof Verlag 

    Special issues of journals (edited)

    Valeriani, S. and Schaefer, D. (eds.) The History of Technology in Global Perspective, Special Issue: Technology and Culture .[in preparation]

    Valeriani, S., Davids, K. and Ian Inkster, I. (eds.) (2011) Conceptualising the Production and Diffusion of Useful and Reliable Knowledge in Early Modern Europe, Special Issue: History of Technology, 31.

    Journal articles

    Valeriani, S. 'Grasping the body: physicians, tailors and holy people' in The history of Technology in Global Perspective, special issue of Technology and Culture, forthcoming 2018.

    Valeriani, S. and Schaefer, D. ‘Technology in a Global Context:  Between Artisanal and “Scientific” Knowledge’, introduction to Technology in Global Perspective, special issue of Technology and Culture, forthcoming 2018.

    Valeriani, S. (2016) ‘Lovers, Gentlemen and Farmers: Architecture, Estate Management and Knowledge in Sir Roger Pratt's unpublished Writings’ in Prospectus –The Varied Role of the Amateur in Early Modern Europe, special Issue of Nuncius (V. Keller and L. Skogh eds.), 31 (2016), pp.584–609.

    Valeriani, S. and Ishizu, M. (2015) ‘The Diffusion of Useful and Reliable Knowledge over the centuries of the Great Divergence: Comparative Case Study of Urban Water Supply in Early Modern England and Tokugawa Japan, in Comparativ, Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und vergleichende Gesellschafts-forschung, 25 (2015), 1, pp.78–97.

    Valeriani, S. (2012) ‘Three-dimensional Models as “in-between-objects” – the creation of in-between knowledge in early modern architectural practice’, History of Technology, 31, pp.5–25.

    Valeriani, S. (2008) ‘“In the ancient forme”.  On the reception and ‘invention’ of ancient building techniques in Early Modern Times’, Special Issue: Hephaistos. New approaches in Classical Archaeology and related Fields, 26, pp.169–88.

    Valeriani, S. (2008) ‘Behind the Façade: Elias Holl and the Italian influence on building techniques in Augsburg’, architectura, 38: 2, pp.97–108.

    Valeriani, S. (2005) ‘S.  Cecilia  in  Trastevere  und  die  Geschichte  der  Kirchendächer  in  Rom’, architectura, 35: 1, pp.32–46.

    Valeriani, S. (1999) ‘La Bauforschung a Lubecca: metodi di datazione’, Archeologia dell'architettura, 4, pp.83–92.

    Valeriani, S. (1998) ‘Studio storico-archeologico sull'edilizia mercantile medievale delle città anseatiche’, Archeologia dell'Architettura, 3, pp.109–23.

    Selected Book chapters

    Valeriani, S. (2015) 'Botanical Knowledge in Early Modern Japan and Europe: Parallel Developments  and Transformations',  in S. Friedrich, S. Ehrenpreis and A. Brendecke (eds.), Transformation  of Knowledge  in   Dutch  Expansion (Pluralisierung  & Autorität 44), Berlin, New York: De Gruyter, pp.43–68. 

    Valeriani, S. (2012) ‘Floors and ceilings in early Christian Basilicas in Rome’, in: R. Gargiani (ed.), Architraves and pouters, Lausanne: EPFL Press, pp. 128-35.

    Valeriani, S. (2011) ‘Facts and Building Artefacts: What Travels in Material Objects?’, in: P. Howlett and M. Morgan (eds.) How Well Do Facts Travel?, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.43–71.

    Selected Published conference proceedings

    Valeriani, S. (2015) 'Christopher Wren et son milieu: le maquettes architecturales dans leur contexte’, in La maquette: un outil au service de project architectural, actes du colloque qui s'est tenu les 20–21 mai 2011 à la Cité de l'architecture & du patrimoine, Paris:Éditions des Cendres.

    Valeriani, S. (2014) 'Constructing St Paul’s Cathedral: Modelling, Drawing and Building', in Proceedings of the 47. Tagung für Ausgrabungswissenschaft und Bauforschung der Koldewey Gesellschaft, Trier , 16–20. Mai 2012, 2014, pp.213–220.

    Valeriani, S. and Ishizu, M. (2011) 'Knowledge Diffusion and the Learning of Practical Science: case studies of early modern Europe and Japan', in Proceedings of the 4th Conference of the European Society for the History of Science, Barcelona, 18–20 November 2010.

    Valeriani, S. (2008) 'Learning about Architecture and Building in 17th Century England. The case of Sir Roger Pratt', in Akten der 45. Tagung  für Ausgrabungswissenschaft und Bauforschung, Koldewey Gesellschaft, Dresden:Thelen Verlag, pp.127–35.

    Working papers

    Valeriani, S. and Ishizu, M. (2011) Diffusion of useful and reliable knowledge in global histories; a case study of intellectual intercourse between Holland and Japan in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, URKEW Discussion Papers, nr 6, LSE. Available here.

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  • Awards and Grants

  • AHRC funding for the International Research Network 'Architectural Models in context: creativity, skill and spectacle'.

    Royal Albert Hall sponsorship for the preparation of the V&A’s display Building the Royal Albert Hall, Victoria and Albert Museum, 6 May 2017–7 Jan 2018. 

Selected work


Research interests

Dr. Valeriani has developed specific expertise in the history of 3D modelling. In 2017 she initiated the AHRC funded International Research Network “Architectural Models in context: creativity, skill and spectacle”.

Dr Valeriani is currently working on the Building History of the Royal Albert Hall and on women involved in the early development of Albertopolis.   

Research students