1800 - 1875


Robert Willis

Science Technology and Architecture in the 19th Century

latest update: May 2016

Cambridge , Caius College · September the 16-17th 2016

RRobert Willis was a typical nineteenth-century polymath, whose interests stretched from mechanism to medieval architecture, from vowel sounds to vaults and beyond.

Perhaps best known today as a historian of architecture and construction, he was also Jacksonian Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and Professor of Mechanics at the Metropolitan School of Science (Royal School of Mines) in London.

He was an experimentalist, inventor and educational innovator and produced a series of histories of English cathedrals which continue to inspire and inform modern scholars.

By bringing together an international group of experts and enthusiasts from a wide range of disciplines, our symposium aims to explore the diverse yet inter-related aspects of Willis’s career and his significance, both contemporary and to posterity, in Britain and across the world.

From the local to the global

James Campbell

Willis and Cambridge architecture

Alex Buchanan

Willis and his networks of knowledge

Willis and science

Jacques Heyman

The teaching of engineering in Cambridge

Ben Marsden

Willis and Science

Robin Maconie

Willis, speech, sound and music

Willis and archaeology

Chris Elliott

Willis and Egyptian architecture

Martin Biddle

Willis and the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem

Toby Huitson

Willis and upper level evidence

Tim Tatton-Brown

Robert Willis and Chichester Cathedral

Willis, vaults and drawing

Santiago Huerta

Robert Willis and gothic vault studies before 1850

Antonio Becchi

Drawing proofs: The tangible worlds of Robert Willis

Javier Girón

Willis and the constructive drawing in architecture

Nick Webb

Digital re-presentation of Willis’s work on medieval vaults

Willis’s influence

David Wendland

Robert Willis and Germany: Gothic Revival and research on Mediaeval Architecture

Simona Talenti

Willis influence on Italy on the 19th C

Martin Bressani

Willis and Viollet-le-Duc

Adrian Forty

Willis and the modernists

Speakers and subjects
Caius Collage

The symposium will take place in Willis’s college, Gonville and Caius, Cambridge on Friday 16 September 2016, followed by a day visiting sites of particular significance to Willis’s career on Saturday 17 September (transport provided).

There will be a commemorative dinner in the Dining Hall of Caius College on the evening of 16 September which all delegates are invited to attend. College accommodation can also be booked for those attending.