ARCH171: How did changing energy conditions influence the different architecture of storage and trading of goods in medieval Chester and C19 Liverpool?

ARCH171: How did changing energy conditions influence the different architecture of storage and trading of goods in medieval Chester and C19 Liverpool? 150 150 Affordable Capstone Projects Written from Scratch


ARCH171 Essay: Instructions and guidance

Write an essay on the subject below. Please read this entire guidance document carefully before choosing your topic and buildings.


Choose two pieces of architecture which have some interesting similarity, one of them from in or around Liverpool, and investigate the ways in which their similarities and differences relate to the energy economy of the societies that produced them.

One of your buildings is to be in or near Liverpool, built between 1780 and 1939, the other is to be from anywhere in the world, provided it is from a pre-industrial society (no factories, no trains etc at the time your building was produced).


Topics you may wish to investigate could include the following, but please do not be limited to these (if you have a topic you are interested in, but are not sure if it fits the brief, discuss it with me after a lecture):

  1. Materials and technology: how does the cheaper energy of industrial Liverpool change what materials are selected?
  2. Functions: how does one building type (the ordinary house, the grand house, the place of trade, or similar) differ in high energy Liverpool versus some other place.
  3. The street: how did the Industrial Revolution change the streets of central Liverpool relative to any pre-industrial city’s typical streets?
  4. Ostentation (which essentially means showing off): how do different buildings in different energy contexts demonstrate that they are important? Do the important-looking buildings in Liverpool actually have the same level of importance to their society as the important-looking buildings of pre-industrial societies?
  5. Transport: you could look at the physical infrastructure of transport in some pre-industrial context (a harbour, a system for communicating messages or similar) and a comparable transport system in industrial Liverpool (the docks, the railway or similar), and see how industrial cheap energy shapes new transport systems.



There is no single reading list for this essay, because your topic will decide what reading is relevant.

These books will certainly be of use:

  • Joseph Sharples, Pevsner Architectural Guides: Liverpool (London: Yale, 2004)

This is a wonderful book and will be useful throughout your studies in Liverpool, so buy it if you can – it’s £9 second-hand on Amazon at the moment. The introduction gives an excellent history of Liverpool that may help you to choose a topic, and the main chapters take you through the architecture of most of the important buildings of central Liverpool, with lots of the sort of information you will need for this essay.

  • A. Wrigley, Energy and the English Industrial Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge, 2010).
  • Astrid Kander, Paolo Malanima, Paul Warde, Power to the people: energy in Europe over the last five centuries (Princeton: Princeton, 2013). Available as an electronic book through the University Library website (click ‘get full text’ from the catalogue entry, and follow the instructions.

These two books will help you to inform yourself about, and think through, the energy component of the question. They both mostly focus on Europe (and are therefore invaluable for the industrial Liverpool end of your research), but in fact they also include a lot of references to other societies and times. Their footnotes and bibliography will help you to find energy information specific to whatever topic you choose.

  • Vaclav Smil, Energy and Civilization: A History (Cambridge MA: MIT, 2017). This is again available through the university library website, and gives some outline of more international energy contexts and factors.
  • Cutler J Cleveland (editor), Encyclopedia of Energy (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2004) Again available as an electronic book through the Library website.


This is a useful source if you want to know more about the energy requirements of particular materials or technologies. Its more general entries may also help you in addition to the histories above.


Advice on finding building-specific reading

For other reading, specific to your chosen buildings, the best way to find good material is through the University Library’s ‘Discover’ search (on the library home page). If, for example, I wanted to research the concrete system used to build the Liver Building, I would not search for ‘concrete’, because I would be swamped with material. Instead I would try to be very specific to start with: ‘concrete liver building 1904 liverpool construction’. This turns out to be too specific, no results, so I cut back to ‘liver building liverpool’, and get a fairly large number of results which mostly do not look very promising. I might have a look at a few of the ones with titles which seem more interesting, but they are not looking good for telling me serious things about the concrete, which is what I was wanting to know.

Instead I look at what Sharples (book 1 on the reading list above) says about the building, and find that the concrete system used was by someone called Hennebique, so I search ‘Hennebique concrete’. Looking down the list several of them are about conservation of concrete, and too technical for what I’m after, but as I keep going down I see an article called ‘Agents of Change: Hennebique, Mouchel and Ferro-Concrete in Britain, 1897-1908.’ Given that Mouchel is also mentioned in Sharples’s account of the Liver building, and that the period of the article includes the period when the Liver Building was designed, I am pretty pleased with that as a result, and by clicking on ‘full text’ under the title I am taken to a page where I can read the article. It is in an academic journal and uses proper scholarly references so I can place a lot of confidence in its information, unlike a Wikipedia page which can be edited by anyone who wants.

To put it more briefly, there are no clear rules on good searches, just keep playing around until you find good material.




When you have chosen your two pieces of architecture, and the thing(s) about them both that you want to compare, read about both. From the first good article you find on each, look at the footnotes to find more useful reading.

Read enough of one or more of the energy history books on the list above to start to understand the scale of energy change between your two pieces of architecture, and to have an idea of its implications for architecture.

Then spend some time at your Liverpool building, looking at it and thinking about it in relation to its construction energy cost and/or the way it used energy. Do something similar with an image search for your other building, if it is not possible for you to visit it in person (you are welcome to choose buildings anywhere in the world for this, either ones we have looked at on the course, or not, provided they were produced by a pre-industrial energy economy).

Make notes about the two buildings, and be careful to include in all your notes the page numbers and publication details of the places you found your information – you will need this for your referencing. Take notes throughout all reading (even online if you’re using some online sources) saying where you got each piece of information from, including page number (for printed sources and online journals) and date retrieved (which means the date you first read it) for other online sources.

The thing which this essay will be marked on above all else is good analysis: your own observations and careful thought about the relationship between energy and your two buildings.

The quality of your essay will stand on four things, in this order of importance:

  1. The quality of your thinking (have you managed to get your head round the immense effects of different energy contexts on the construction and functioning of your two buildings)
  2. The quality of your research (have you managed to find and read serious scholarly sources and to get from them the information you need to know, rather than guess, about the two buildings you are writing about)
  3. The quality of your writing (have you written the essay clearly, engagingly, and with a structure that makes your argument clear)
  4. Presentation (take your own photos and sketches of the Liverpool building, and make diagrams of the other building too, not just to show me what it looks like, but to explain its energy use in visual form; you might for example want to make a diagram of each building showing the location of any energy-intense materials in the building, to help clarify your message. Do not just type out your essay, shove some pictures at the end, and click ‘submit’ – make the document a pleasure to use and think about how you are designing it.)


NOTES AND PLAN: (use these titles for your own notes, to help you make sure that you are including everything you need. You do not need to submit your notes.)



Notes from reading on the low-energy building (always include source, and page number if given on the document)

What was the building for and why was it built the way it was?

What was the energy context of the society?

How does the energy context shape the way the building is designed?

Which materials require high energy intensity and which require large amounts of low-intensity energy? Why was each selected?

Is the building in any respect an energy investment to control existing supplies or gain control of more energy? If so, how? If not, what is it for and how does this relate to the energy economy?


Notes from reading on and visiting the Liverpool building (always include source and page number)

What was the building for and why was it built the way it was?

What was the energy context of the society?

How does the energy context shape the way the building is designed?

Which materials require high energy intensity and which require large amounts of low-intensity energy? Why was each selected?

Is the building in any respect an energy investment to control existing supplies or gain control of more energy? If so, how? If not, what is it for and how does this relate to the energy economy?


Your own analytical thought about the relationship between the two:

In what ways are the two projects similar?

In what ways are they different?

What is the role of energy change in these similarities and differences?

Which of the two buildings took more energy to construct? Is it the more important of the two?

Which of the two buildings took more energy to run? Is it the more important of the two?

What factors other than energy change cause these similarities and differences? (And have a careful think about whether any of these factors also has some relationship to energy change)

Your essay plan

Introduction: (give us a very quick sense of the date, function and context of the two buildings, tell us what comparison you are exploring between them, and get us interested with any striking or surprising facts or discoveries you have)


Analysis: this is most of your essay, and you should organise it in a way which suits your analytical findings from reading, looking and thinking.

It is very, very important that your essay should not mainly describe the two buildings. What is needed is a critical discussion of the relationship between the two, and their energy contexts. Only tell us as much about the buildings and their contexts as we need to know in order to follow your argument.

You might want to try one of the following outline structures:

Part 1: similarities between the buildings, and what causes them.

Part 2: differences between the buildings, and what causes them.

Conclusion: summarise these findings in terms of the energy changes between the two.


Or something like this, adapted to your specific topic:

Part 1: Structural and engineering differences and similarities between the two buildings, and the energy changes that bring them about.

Part 2: Aesthetic differences and similarities between the two buildings, and why these might be the case given the different structural systems.

Conclusion: summarise these findings in terms of the relationship between architectural conservatism and underlying energy change


You are not limited to the above structures, but please DO NOT use the following structure which will not encourage critical analysis:

Part 1: the non-Liverpool building

Part 2: the Liverpool building

Conclusion: some attempt to talk about the two together



Summarise what you have found, and if possible add briefly some interesting extra element: some way in which your analysis casts light on your understanding of architecture, or of the present architectural emphasis on sustainability.

Writing and referencing

Word Count: 1700-2000 words

Illustration, referencing, and academic integrity

Illustrate your essay with relevant images which support your argument, and include quotations from the text where relevant. Use of your own diagrams or other illustrations is strongly encouraged. Make clear what the source of your images is (Flickr/own photo/own diagram/diagram from a scholarly article [with reference], etc.)

Do not copy and paste or retype text from any other source without putting quotation marks round it (‘ ’) and a proper reference telling us where it is from. This is for two reasons, the first being that you are showing us what you have read so that we can give you credit for it. The second reason is that you are otherwise claiming other people’s work as your own. This is a form of stealing, and is treated extremely seriously by the university.

If you are taking an idea from any piece of writing, but changing the words, this does not need quotation marks, but it still does need a reference to tell us where the idea came from. The ONLY exceptions to this rule are facts which are so well-known that everyone can be assumed to know them – the dates of a particular king’s rule, or the location of a building, for example. If you have got any other fact from any source, reference it. An essay of this length ought to have at least 20 references within the text, and potentially considerably more, though many of them may refer to the same few key sources (if you find lots of information from three articles and one book, for example, they may each be referenced lots of times, every time you have a fact from one of them, making for 20 or more references between them).

Please use the Chicago style of referencing, with footnotes and bibliography. The details of how to do this are here (, and it is necessary to observe their punctuation etc. closely in order to get it exactly right. Once you get into the habit it gets much easier. Make sure that as you do your reading you take as part of your notes the necessary details for referencing.

Please give your essay an appropriate title, which explains what it is asking. This does not count as part of your word count.

References are also not to be included in your word count (there is a check-box on Microsoft Word word count to make it automatically exclude them).

Please include a bibliography (an alphabetical list of everything you have read in your research for the essay, in order of the family name of the author), which does not count towards your word count.

Typically university markers allow 10% latitude on word-counts: if you are under 2200 you will not be marked down for going over the word limit of 2000.

The essay will be anonymously marked, which is the best practice in university coursework assessment. It is important that you do not put your name within the document itself: VITAL will keep track of who submitted what.

Before you submit your essay, try to leave time to read your work out loud to yourself. It makes you feel silly, but hearing your own words out loud is often the best way of noticing when your writing is awkward or missing words.



Your essay will be submitted online only, via Turnitin. You will therefore have no printing costs and should use as many illustrations as you like to make it a really clear and attractive document (though please don’t use very high-resolution images as they will make your document hard to upload and download).

Allow yourself extra time for a slow internet connection at either end or similar: you lose marks as soon as it is a minute late, and with illustrations essay files can be big and slow to upload.

Possible Questions:

Please feel free to come up with your own topic. If you would like to discuss a possible topic with me I will be happy to discuss it with you before or after one of my lectures.

If you would like to answer a set question, below are some possible ones with some suggestions on where to start your reading.

At the link below is some recommended reading covering a range of topics including bits on these:


  • How did changing energy conditions influence the different architecture of storage and trading of goods in medieval Chester and C19 Liverpool?


  • How did different energy conditions make a difference to the houses of ordinary people in [CHOOSE ONE: medieval England/Dogon villages] as against those in C19 Liverpool?


  • How did changing energy conditions affect the design of the homes of powerful people: compare the palace at Parsa and C19 merchants’ houses in Liverpool.


  • How did changing energy regimes alter the architecture of transport and hospitality between the coaching inns of the C18 and Lime Street Station and Hotel in the C19?


  • What differences do [CHOOSE ONE: the Parthenon, Athens/the Shah Mosque, Isfahan/Chartres Cathedral] and Liverpool Anglican Cathedral reveal about the position of religion in their societies?

For the purpose of this question, please discuss the society of Liverpool when the Anglican Cathedral was begun (in the first decade of the C20) rather than when it was finished in the 1970s.


  • How do the differences between Oxford University at any period before 1800 and Liverpool University in the C19 show the effects of energy changes between the two periods?