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Dr Renee Tobe

Reader in Architecture; History and Theory Coordinator

Sustainable Cities, Sustainability Research Institute

I foster debate, support students to make calculated decisions, and encourage engagement in responsible and practical research. I focus on critical thinking and critical practice, imaginative decision making, indeterminacy, and strategy.

  • AVA G.07, Docklands Campus
    School of Architecture Computing and Engineering (ACE)
    University of East London
    4-6 University Way
    E16 2RD
  • +442082233237
    I am an architect and a writer and thinker about architecture.

    BSc (Arch) AADip, MPhil, PhD (Cantab), RIBA, FHEA
    Honorary Professor, Kazan State Institute of Architecture and Engineering


    Histories and Theories of Architecture and Cities

    Architecture and Film


    "Sex Happens; A phenomenological reading of the casual encounter" in Writing the Modern City, Routledge, 2011.

    Architecture and Justice, Judicial Expressions in the Spatial Realm, editor, Ashgate Press, 2011

    The City and the University, Research Project collaborative with Urban Design Research Group, Nottingham University

    Funded by

    British School at Rome
    Paul Mellon Centre


    Architecture Journals and Published Work

    “Modernist Noir” in Perspectives, Winter 2007

    “Port Bou and Two Grains of Wheat: In Remembrance of Walter Benjamin” in Architectural Theory Review, Summer 2005

    “Westminster Cathedral Drawings” in Architect Journal, 12 October 1995

    “Rest Home” in Themes VI Intuition and Process, (London: Architectural Association, 1989)

    Brayford Pool Development Framework (2009) R. Tobe and K. Borsi, Lincoln: Lincoln University Press

    Chapter in Book “Walter Benjamin and Two Grains of Wheat”, in Walter Benjamin and Architecture (2009) ed. G. Hartoonian, London: Routledge

    “The Inhuman One: the Mythology of the Architect as Realisateur” in Architecture and Authorship, (2006) London: Black Dog Publishing

    “Architectural Grounding in Miller’s Elektra; Temporality and Spatiality in the Graphic Novel in Contemporary Literary Criticism 278 (2006) London: Gale

    "Frightening and Familiar; David Lynch's Twin Peaks and the North American Suburb" in Visual Culture and Tourism (2003) Oxford: Berg

    "The Ladies' Cabinet" in Disrupted Borders; an intervention in definitions of boundaries, ed. S. Gupta (1993) London: Rivers Oram Press

    Published Books

    The Humanities in Architectural Design, (2009) ed. N. Temple, R. Tobe, J. Lomholt, Soumyen Bandyopadhyay London: Routledge

    Film, Architecture and Spatial Imagination, (2017) R. Tobe, London: Routledge

    Refereed Journal Articles

    “Plato and Hegel at Home” in arq (11:1) 2007

    “Time and narrative in sequential art; Frank Miller’s Elektra: Assassin” in ImageText, 2006


    Histories and Theories of Architecture

    Postcolonial debates

    Renée Tobe's investigations into the nature of the relationship of architecture and its representation in film grants a deeper understanding of how architecture in film illuminates both architecture and the culture that produces it. Establishing a place is the fundamental task of architecture; the first task of architecture is to mark our place in the world. Architecture mediates the dialectics of dwelling and remoteness, belonging and estrangement. Realisation and expression of this exchange forms the basis for Architectural understanding. A current Research Project entitled the University and the City
    investigates the synergies between the two to produce a toolkit to guide University development with limited capital investment. Dr Tobe lectures in History and Theory to Year 1 students, introducing precedents, and poetic concepts and expressions of space and place.



    BSc Architecture (Hons)
    PG Architecture
    MA Architecture: Interpretation and Theories

    Conference Papers and Presentations


    “The Cultural Role Played by the Spatial Imagination” The Cultural Role of Architecture, Lincoln University, 2010

    Invited Speaker

    “Bridging Places and Spaces In-Between” Architecture + Phenomenology 2, Kyoto, Japan, 2009

    "Sex Happens; a Phenomenological Reading of the Casual Encounter” Architexture, Architecture and Literature, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, 2008

    “Fear and Trembling; a Study of Why Movies Make us Afraid” Architecture + Phenomenology Conference, Haifa, Israel, May 2007

    “Speeding into the unfixed and moveable future in neo-Tokyo” Architecture, Anime and Alternate Landscapes, Society of Architectural Historians, Savannah, USA, April 2006

    “The Constantly Evolving Mediated Surface” Models and Drawings; AHRA Annual Conference, Nottingham University, November 2005

    “The Inhuman One; the Mythology of Architect as Réalisateur”, Terms of Engagement: Changing definitions of the Architect, Society of Architectural Historians, Vancouver, Canada, April 2005

    “Two Grains of Wheat; In Remembrance of Walter Benjamin” Dani Karavan Conference, University Grenoble, Port Bou, Spain, September 2004

    “Dr Heidegger’s Cabinet of Curiosities” Primitive Conference, Cardiff University, 2004

    “The Case of Plato’s Cave and Hegel’s Master and Slave Dialectic”
    Philosophy of Architecture/Architecture of Philosophy, Congress CATH2004, 2004

    “The Unfamiliar in the Familiar Place, The North American Suburb” Visual Culture and Tourism Conference, Anglia Ruskin University, 2000

    “German Expressionist Film and Heidegger,” Martin Centre, Cambridge University, 2000

    “Norman Bel Geddes and the 1939 New York World’s Fair”, Social History Conference, Caius College, Cambridge University, 2000
    “Gender and Architecture in Chantal Ackerman’s Film” Architectural Association, 1998
    “Michel Foucault and the Space of the Body”, Disrupted Borders Conference, Photographers Gallery, London, 1993

    “Memory and the Double Image”, Ecstatic Antibodies Conference, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 1992

    Related Work

    The Thing Is .... Entertainment (Channel 4), Television Set Design (1991)

    The Big Breakfast (Channel 4), Television Set Design (1991)

    Various (Mecompany), Product and Image Design (1991)

    Nervous Systems (Mute Records), Illustration of ‘Odyssey Tower’ album cover (1991)


    AJ/Westminster Cathedral Measured Drawing Competition Commended (1995)

    Building Design: Peoples Palace

    RIBA/Baltic Flour Mills Competition Commended (1994)

    RIBA/Mausoleum Design (1993)

    Shinkenchiku Competition Yokohama Harbour Design (1992)


    Westminster Cathedral Centenary Exhibition, Westminster Cathedral, London (1995)

    Metropolis, Open Window Gallery, London (1994)

    The Ladies Cabinet, Disrupted Borders: National Gallery, Ottawa (1994)

    Photographers Gallery, London; (1993) Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol (1994)

    Continental Drift, Royal Institute of British Architects, London (1993)

    Sauerbruch/Hutton Architekten Exhibition: Aedes Gallery, Berlin (1992)

    Ecstatic Antibodies: Maison de la Culture, Montreal, (1991)
    Battersea Arts Centre, London, (1989) Impressions Gallery, York (1990)

    Intuition and Process, Architectural Association, London (1989)