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Juliana Kei

PhD Work

Pessimist Utopia: Theo Crosby 1950-1990

My research traces an alternative genealogy of late 20th-century British architecture by examining the debates, practices, and theorisation of Postmodernism and architectural preservation. The focus of this study is Theo Crosby (1925-1994), an architect whose polymathic career spanned architectural and urban design, curation, writing, and editing but is known primarily as a founding partner of the multi-disciplinary design firm Pentagram. Crosby started his career as a part of the post-war neo-avant-garde milieu, became an vocal advocate for preservation in the 1960s, and in 1980s, he was one of the architectural advisors of Prince Charles’ controversial intervention in British architecture. Crosby's multifaceted career provides the means to inquire how architectural and design history, as well as the studies of traditional building forms, change the trajectory of British architecture in its Postmodern turn, and the radicalising effect that preservation had on the discourses. Crosby’s treatment of architectural history is the centerpiece of this research, which  reveals previously overlooked political, economic, and technological functions of architectural history and traditions in 20th century Britain.

This study seeks to offer a reconceptualisation of the currently historiography of late 20th-century British architecture. Crosby’s many collaborative projects will be used to draw attention to the affinity to the past and advocacy for preservation in the neo-avant-garde milieu. This research will also evaluate architectural preservation’s temporary turn to radical politics and information theory in the 1970s. Crosby’s four-decade-long career will also be used as a prism to reflect on how architects’ attitude towards the past has also been shaped by economic, technological, and political transformations found in late 20th-century British society.


  • Juliana Kei
  • PhD


    School of Arts & Humanities


    History of Design, 2014–2018

  • Juliana is an architect and PhD candidate in History of Design. Her research explores the roles of history in late 20th century British architectural culture by demarcating the convergences and divergence between architectural Postmodernism and preservation. Her other research interests include Hong Kong's design and architectural history. She holds a M.Arch from Columbia University and a B.Arch from University of Hong Kong.

  • Degrees

  • M.Arch, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University; B.Arch, University of Hong Kong, 2007
  • Experience

  • Design Fellow, Urbanus, Hong Kong, 2011–2013; Teaching Assistant, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 2013–2014
  • Exhibitions

  • The Cultivation of Urban Cracks, Venice Biennale, Venice, 2012; Dazhibao d’architecture X Composite, Wing Lee Street Gallery, Hong Kong, 2014; Creative Cities, OCT Loft, Shenzhen, 2014; Urban Urge Award, Columbia University, New York, 2014; Bi-City Biennale of Architecture/Urbanism, Hong Kong, 2013–2014
  • Awards

  • M+ Research Fellow, 2015