Black, Philip

Aesthetic Control – A Critical Reflection on Public Building Design in the UK




School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Queen's University Belfast
Level 3
David Keir Building
Stranmillis Road
Belfast BT9 5AG
Northern Ireland


+44 (0)2890 974254


Current Research

Architecture is an unavoidable art, and can give tangible expression to the values, priorities and aspirations of our society, Winston Churchill once famously stated that ‘we shape our buildings, but afterwards our buildings shape us’. Aesthetic design or beauty in architecture, are what can be described as beautiful buildings, buildings which lift our spirits and stand out among the ordinary and mundane. What distinguishes works of architecture from mere buildings is that they are designed with a view to aesthetic appeal. Public building architecture has the power to provide communities with tangible icons, based on the aesthetic as well as functionality, so what control measures are in place to assist in achieving design excellence with regards aesthetics? It is surely the duty of the State to strive towards the goals of architectural excellence and beauty in their buildings. This research takes a detailed look at the systems of control and monitoring that exists today in the UK, critically reflecting on their success or failures. It will attempt to understand how much power and influence each measure exerts, and the States rationale for their existence. The research will eventually provide an in-depth analysis of the control of aesthetics in public building design within the UK.

Supervisors Dr. Brendan Muirtagh, Dr. Geraint Ellis & Dr. Ken Sterrett