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Abstract

Arguably, cultural geography began with the study of architectural forms. The first half of this article traces the geographical study of buildings as a relatively small but significant sub-field of cultural geography. It summarises three approaches that characterise this work. First, the study of everyday, vernacular buildings, found especially (but not exclusively) in North American cultural geography. Second, radical critiques of the political–economic imperatives that are built into particular architectural forms such as the skyscraper and the related interpretation of buildings as signs, symbols or referents for dominant socio-cultural discourses or moralities. Third, what can broadly (but not unproblematically) be termed non-representational or ‘critical’ methods that stress practice, materiality and affect. The second half of the article highlights the productive connections between these three approaches. It stresses that recent research on the geographies of architecture has adopted elements of each approach to make a number of contributions to the study of cultural geography. Two key themes are considered: movement/stasis; the politics of architectural design and practice. Consideration of these themes anticipates a conclusion with some broad suggestions for future geographical research on architecture.