Having earned a Summa cum Laude Degree in Architecture at University of Rome Sapienza, Francesco Proto went on to complete a MA in Architecture and Critical Theory and a PhD in Architecture and Visual Culture at the University of Nottingham. He is a registered architect in both the UK (ARB, RIBA) and Italy (Ordine degli Architetti). Working with Dominique Perrault Architects in Paris, Francesco specialised in international architectural competitions and prepared design entries for the Mariinsky Ballet and Opera Theatre in St. Petersburg, the Piazza Garibaldi urban design, shopping mall and metro exchange in Naples, Donau City masterplan and DC Tower 1 in Vienna, and the Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 Olympics. He continued this interest by collaborating with students to enter competitions such as the RIBA Journal ‘Bull’s Eye’ design competition, the ‘Berlin Natural History Museum’ competition, and the ‘Costa Concordia Lighthouse Memorial’ competition, with the latter two being awarded Honourable Mention with special commendations.
Francesco’s research has encompassed, amongst others, a series of interviews and extensive correspondence with Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. These resulted in two books on Baudrillard and architecture, Mass, Identity Architecture and Baudrillard for Architects that translated the philosopher’s unpublished work on urbanism and Parc de la Villette in Paris, and participation in an on-line lecture series organized by Neil Leach and also including Bernard Tschumi, Peter Eisenman and Slavoj Žižek. These were accompanied by a prize-winning paper on the Centre Pompidou in the Journal of Architecture, various other journal publications and a proposed book on the reassessment of Postmodern architecture (in progress).
Francesco is interested in the critical debates arising in architecture since WWII and their influence on research and current design practice. His wide-ranging, multidisciplinary publications have appeared in journals such as ARQ, Architecture and Culture, AD/Architectural Design, The Journal of Architecture and The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, for which he is now a member of the editorial board. Francesco’s research also embraces Psychoanalysis and he is a founding member of the Institute for the Psychoanalytic Study of Architecture (IPSA) and an Associate Editor for the Institute’s journal, Psyche Extended.
A long-standing interest and expertise in art, design and music is a constant in Francesco’s lecturing, studio teaching, publications, and curatorial activities. He teamed up with prominent Italian art critic and historian, Achille Bonito Oliva, Jolanda Nigro-Covre and Maurizio Calvesi to organise symposia and two exhibitions in Rome, and he presented his own artwork at the Hong Kong International Arts Fair. He was invited to exhibit two films on urbanism at the 10th Venice Architecture Biennale and delivered lectures at the Venice Art Biennale and the Milan Design Triennale. In addition, Francesco exhibited projects in the Lincoln Frequency Digital Media Festival, one being the first original song and video installation dedicated to the work of Jean Baudrillard, while others were based on explorations of the ‘post-human’ in his PG architecture studio.
Francesco has taught history and theory as well as design studio at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. His aim in architectural education has been to increase awareness of the role of history and theory as a repository for problem solving and a general approach to design. For Francesco teaching is the area where research is both incubated and tested, while research is where the outcomes from teaching activities are implemented. Central to both is a critical reflection on the dichotomy currently affecting architecture and a resolution of the two polarised discourses within the discipline – the arts and humanities and technology and science.
Teaching and supervision
- History, Theory and Philosophy of Architecture
- Critical Theory
- Architecture Design Studio
- History and Theory of 1st and 2nd artistic avant-gardes
- Visual Culture
- Baudrillard Studies
- Lacanian Studies
Francesco has supervised three PhD students and welcomes applications to study for a research degree, either full or part time, in any of the research interests listed below. He is currently working with five potential applicants in developing their research proposals.
- Psychoanalysis and Architecture
- Philosophy and Architecture
- Post-human and Architecture
- Cinema and Architecture
- Music and Architecture
- Fine Art and Architecture
- Visual Culture
- Urban Design and the City
- Architectural Design/ Theory of Design Strategies
Francesco has a sustained record of research and scholarly activity. After publishing his first book in 2006 - Mass Identity Architecture: Architectural Writings of Jean Baudrillard - he has contributed to a variety of specialist refereed journals and conference proceedings on architecture, psychoanalysis, philosophy and art. He has been a peer reviewer for the journals, National Identities (Taylor and Francis), Theory, Culture & Society (Routledge), The Journal of Architecture (Cambridge University Press), and a book reviewer for Ashgate Publishers. He is currently collaborating with the University of Paris IX ‘Nanterre’, Columbia University in New York and Swansea University (UK) for the launch of the 2nd International Conference on Baudrillard Studies “Applied Baudrillard” (Oxford, September 2018). With Lorens Holm and Tim Martin, Francesco has also founded and lunched “Architecture on the Couch”, an international research group on architecture and psychoanalysis, as well as the Oxford Brookes University trans-disciplinary research group “Singular Strategies”.
Proto F, 'James Stirling’s post-avant-garde collage: the flatbed picture plane & the pursuit of virtuality'
arq: Architectural Research Quarterly 25 (3) (2022) pp.231-244
ISSN: 1359-1355 eISSN: 1474-0516Published here
Proto F, 'Abject Objects: Perversion and the Modernist Grid'
Architecture and Culture 8 (3/4) (2020) pp.564-582
ISSN: 2050-7828 eISSN: 2050-7836Abstract Published here
Proto F, 'Doubling Baudrillard: An Appreciation of Gerry Coulter’s Writings on Architecture'
International Journal of Baudrillard Studies 15 (1) (2019)
ISSN: 1705-6411Published here Open Access on RADAR
Proto F, Schiro E, 'The Symbolic Challenge of Architecture'
Lo Sguardo - Rivista di Filosofia 23 (2017) pp.165-174
ISSN: 2036-6558Abstract Published here Open Access on RADAR