Caroline Rabourdin

Dr Caroline Rabourdin PhD | M.Arch | dipArch

Senior Lecturer in Architecture Histories and Theories

Key details

Dr Caroline Rabourdin

Senior Lecturer in Architecture Histories and Theories

Caroline Rabourdin is an architect, writer, and the author of Sense in Translation: Essays on the Bilingual Body (Routledge, 2020).

She joined the University of Greenwich in 2020 as Senior Lecturer in Architecture Theories and Histories in the School of Design, with teaching and coordinating responsibilities across all years on the BA and M.Arch programmes. She is also Honorary Lecturer at the Bartlett, UCL, acting as subsidiary PhD supervisor.

Trained as an architect at INSA Strasbourg (Dip.Arch), the University of Edinburgh (Erasmus), and the Bartlett School of Architecture (M.Arch with Distinction, British Council Entente Cordiale Scholarship), she practiced for a number of years in Paris and London (Shed 54 for the Wapping Project, Foster & Partners, Softroom for the V&A Museum, Noe Duchaufour-Lawrance) before engaging in research and academia. She was awarded her PhD in 2016 by the University of the Arts London for her interdisciplinary work on translation.

She has taught architectural theory and design at Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, Chelsea College of Arts (UAL), University College Cork, the AA School of Architecture and the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL).

In 2016 she initiated the annual AA Visiting School programme in Paris, titled Architecture & Ecriture, exploring the potential of the literary essay for new architectural ideas to emerge within a multilingual and multicultural setting.

In 2019 she received the Arts Council England DYCP award for her project Translation as Re-Writing and is working in collaboration with graphic designer Matthew Chrislip and translator Sophie Lewis, on the translation of essays by Mireille Calle-Gruber and Lisa Robertson.

Responsibilities within the university

Undergraduate Level

ARCT1050 Cultural Contexts of Architecture — Module co-coordinator and tutor (level 4)

ARCT1008 Contemporary Theories of Architecture – Module coordinator and tutor (level 5)

ARCT1014 Architecture Dissertation – Dissertation Supervisor (level 6)

Postgraduate Level

ARCT1064 Theories of Architecture – Module coordinator and tutor (level 7)

ARCT1060 Architectural Thesis – Module co-coordinator and Thesis Supervisor (level 7)

Administration and Academic Citizenship

Admissions interviews


2018 UCL Student Choice Awards — Nominee for Inspiring Teaching Delivery

2001 Distinction in Design and Theory, Masters in Architecture, Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

2000 Entente Cordiale Scholarship awarded by the British Council

Research / Scholarly interests

Caroline Rabourdin’s research interests include spatial theory, art writing, spatial literature, phenomenology, post-structuralist theory, translation studies and comparative literature.

As a trained and experienced architect, her practice over the last decade has moved to art writing, with particular focus on the essay as a performative, creative and non-linear form of writing. As a bilingual writer, she is interested in the potential for translation, and comparative approaches to language to give rise to new ideas. She considers essay writing as a critical and creative practice and the space between languages as a productive space for new architectural ideas.

In her monograph Sense in Translation: Essays on the Bilingual Body (Routledge, 2020), she argues for an embodied understanding of translation whereby the analogy between linguistic translation and spatial translation is much more than a simple comparison. Informed by phenomenology and in particular Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s work on sens, this innovative and interdisciplinary collection of essays draws from philosophers and post-structuralist thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Hélène Cixous, as well as writers such as Michel Butor, Louis Wolfson and Lisa Robertson. Ultimately, the essays tend towards the realisation that linguistic translation and spatial translation can no longer be categorised as distinct, but rather join in the capacity of our bodies to sense and in our desire to make sense.

Caroline has read at numerous international symposiums on modern languages, comparative literature and the arts, including the ACLA symposium at Harvard University and the Arts in Translation Biennale in Reykjavik and has published works in English and in French in architecture magazines and peer-reviewed journals and books.

She welcomes PhD applications related to the following areas of study:

  • Language and Architecture
  • Translation and Multilingualism in Architecture
  • Post-Structuralist writing
  • Posthuman creative writing

Key funded projects

2019 Arts Council England, DYCP funding for the "Translation as Re-Writing” project

The project explores the materiality and embodied nature of literary translation. It involves collaborative work with graphic designer Matthew Chrislip and translator Sophie Lewis throughout the process of translation of Mireille Calle-Gruber’s essay “L’Essai comme forme de réécriture: Cixous à Montaigne” from French to English and Lisa Robertson’s essay “Thresholds: A Prosody of Citizenship” from English to French.

Recent publications


  • Rabourdin, C. (2020) Sense in Translation: Essays on the Bilingual Body. NY: Routledge.

Book chapters

  • Rabourdin, C. (2018) ‘The expanding space of the train carriage- A phenomenological reading of Michel Butor’s La Modification’, in Riquet, J. and Kollmann, E. (eds.) Spatial Modernities: Geography, Narrative, Imaginaries. NY:Routledge.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2016) ‘Walking and Writing: Paul Auster’s map of the Tower of Babel’, in Peraldo, E. (ed.) Literature and Geography. Cambridge:Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


  • Rabourdin, C. (2016) ‘Spatial Translation and embodied Bilingualism’ in CALL: Irish Journal for Culture, Arts, Literature and Language, Vol.1: Issue 1, Article 12.


  • Rabourdin, C. (2016) ‘Le Corps Géométrique en Mouvement’, Architectures Crée No.375, Avril-Mai.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2015) ‘The Titleer’, Non-Sense AArchitecture No.26, London: AA Print Studio


  • Rabourdin, C. (2019) ‘Le droit à la langue de l’autre’, Conference : 23rrd International Symposium for Phenomenology, L’Epreuve de l’Etranger: Translation, Migration, Resistance. Organised by Shela Sheikh, Emmanuel Alloa and Delia Popa. Perugia, Italy.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2018) ‘Roland Barthes in 1968 Reviews’, Conference: 1968 in Reviews, University of Birmingham, School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music. 2018. Birmingham, UK.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2017) ‘The Mobile Space of the Essay’ Conference: Warp/Weft’ international conference on multidisciplinarity, organised by Monash University and University of Tasmania in Prato, Italy.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2017) ‘Title to be Specified*’, preceded by 'An Incomplete Log of the Lost Conversations between the Peasant Poet and the Metropolitan Gypsy' with the participation of Joyce Chen, AA School of Architecture Public Lecture, London, UK.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2016) ‘Perec: Movement, Mobility, Motility’, Conference: ‘George Perec’s Geographies/ Perecquian Geographies’ conference, Sheffield University, UK.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2016) ‘Louis Wolfson’s reformed body’, Conference: ACLA conference, Cambridge (MA) Harvard University, USA.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2015) ‘Walking and Writing: Paul Auster’s map of the Tower of Babel’, Conference: ‘Literature and Geography’ conference, Université Jean Moulin III & IETT, Lyon, France.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2014) ‘Making sense of Caroline Bergvall’s multilingual poetry: The space between langues and Lecercle’s Philosophy of Nonsense’, Conference: ‘Art in Translation’ Interdisciplinary conference, University of Iceland, Reykjavik.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2013) ‘The expanding space of the train carriage- A phenomenological reading of Michel Butor’s La Modification’, conference: ‘Travelling Narratives: Modernity and the Spatial Imaginary’, Zurich University, Switzerland.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2012) ‘Le Sens de la Translation: Understanding Geometrical Translation as an Embodied and Sensory Practice.’, conference: ‘Translations: Exchange of Ideas’ research conference, Cardiff University, UK.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2012) ‘Look Left, Look Right: Reversal phenomenon, Language and Duality’, conference: ‘Contested Sites/Sights’ research conference, University of the Arts London (conference co-orgniser), UK.
  • Rabourdin, C. (2011)‘Bilingual Space and Spatial Translation: Migrant’s cognitive experience from an architectural perspective’, conference: International Language Symposium, Dublin Institute of Technology & Royal Irish Academy, Ireland.