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Hannah Forsythe

MA work

An investigation into gay men's nightclubs in 1980s London

This research draws from face-to-face interviews, gay publications, photographs and architectural plans to uncover the importance of gay men’s nightclubs as sites of liberation in the cultural climate of 1980s London. The combination of archival material supplemented by oral testimony creates a disruptive narrative that aims to build a renewed perception of these spaces. The research is split into three sections that focus on ideologies of space and place; each shedding light on what these venues meant to those that used them. The first section plots the distribution of nightlife across 1980s London. One is thereby able to understand the necessity of the commercial gay scene for both the collective and the individual gay identities. The next section of the project is split into two parts, each illuminating the production of space in these venues. Using the well-known nightclub Heaven as a case study, the first part portrays the architectural features as necessary physical elements of the nocturnal entertainment space. The second part underlines the importance of the participants as essential contributors to the essence of these revolutionary spaces.  Together these sections argue that the architectural and design programs of nightclubs only work when tacitly informed by those that used them. The project’s aim is thus to show that nightclubs were co-designed by their physical nature and human intervention.


  • MA Degree


    School of Humanities


    MA History of Design, 2017

  • I am a design historian passionate about queer spaces and LGBTQ+ history. I believe in gender and sexuality equality, and giving a voice to the lives and stories of ordinary people. My research practice, therefore, revolves around gathering oral testimony to uncover histories, experiences and memories that have been hidden, or marginalised.
  • Degrees

  • BA History of Art, Oxford Brookes University, 2014