Matthew James Wells
former assistant
Curriculum vitae

Matthew Wells (b.1988, Birmingham) is an architectural historian who works on the relationships between representational techniques, technology, and professionalism in the built environment of the 19th and 20th century. He studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art and completed his doctorate at the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal College of Art.

Currently, his research is focused in three areas. First, a collaborative project within the Chair for the Theory of Architecture, ‘Things of Modernity’, where, amongst other things, he is exploring the cultural histories and architectural significance of central heating systems and linoleum, carpets and toilets in modernity. Second, a history of the survey drawing in collaboration with Drawing Matter, tracing the development of this essential part of the practice and education of all architects. Finally, the standardisation of the built environment in 19th-century Britain and its global territories, provisionally titled: ‘Global Standards: British Architects and the Underpinning of Empire, 1816–1914’. Drawing on methodologies from a variety of historical disciplines the research examines standardisation through three main areas of historical investigation: the emergence of new building technologies; the social construction of experts; and finally, the political effects of urban and environmental regulation.

His doctoral work explored the purpose and use of architectural models in the 19th and 20th centuries. Through archival and object-based research, the dissertation used models to explore the values embodied by various cultural, social, and political institutions. The thesis was awarded the Theodor-Fischer-Preis (2019) and commended in the RIBA President's Awards for Research (2017). He is currently working on a monograph based on the research, provisionally titled ‘Modelling in the Metropolis’, which provides a new understanding of how London was conceptualised, debated, and constructed through architectural models.

Prior to his appointment at ETH Zürich he has taught at the universities of Kingston, Liverpool, and Nottingham. Recently his writing has been published in Architectural History, the Burlington Magazine, the JSAH, the Journal of Art Historiography, and San Rocco.


2019-22. Lecturer, Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta), ETH Zürich
2018-22. Postdoctoral assistant, Chair for the Theory of Architecture, Prof. Dr. Laurent Stalder, ETH Zürich
2015-18. Lecturer in the History and Theory of Architecture, Kingston School of Art
2015-16. Visiting Lecturer, University of Nottingham
2015-16. Visiting Lecturer, London Metropolitan University
2013-14. Lecturer in Architecture, University of Liverpool


2018. PhD, Victoria & Albert Museum / Royal College of Art
2015. Dipl. Professional Practice (RIBA Part III) University of Westminster
2014. MA History of Art, Courtauld Institute of Art
2013. MArch, London Metropolitan University
2010. BA Architecture, University of Liverpool

Grants and Awards

2019. Theodor-Fischer-Preis, Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich
2017. RIBA President’s Awards for Research, RIBA
2015-18. AHRC CDP PhD Scholarship, Victoria & Albert Museum/Royal College of Art
2012. London Metropolitan University Scholarship
2010. Anderson Bursary, University of Liverpool
2010. Sikorski Prize for Drawing, University of Liverpool