Iain Borden (born in Oxford in 1962) is an English architectural historian and urban commentator. He is currently Vice-Dean Education at The Bartlett, University College London (UCL), and Professor of Architecture and Urban Culture. He is particularly well known for his academic studies of everyday occurrences such as car driving, skateboarding, walking and movies in relation to contemporary architecture and public spaces. His Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body, (Berg, 2001), met with considerable acclaim for its highly analytic and historical account of skateboarding, using the philosophy of Henri Lefebvre to interpret this urban practice as a creative, political and spatial act. His later book Drive: Journeys through Film, Cities and Landscapes, (Reaktion, 2012), similarly explored automobile driving as experiences of cities and urban spaces, using cinematic representations to explore different speeds, landscape and social conditions.
He graduated from University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1985, and went on to complete masters degrees at UCL and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a PhD at UCL. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
His wide-ranging historical and theoretical interests have led to publications on, among other subjects: critical theory and architectural historical methodology (InterSections: Architectural Histories and Critical Theories, (Routledge, 2000)), the history of skateboarding as an urban practice (Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body, (Berg, 2001), new version forthcoming), boundaries and surveillance, theorists Henri Lefebvre and Georg Simmel, film and architecture, gender and architecture, body spaces and the experience of city spaces (The Unknown City: Contesting Architecture and Social Space, (MIT Press, 2001)). He has recently undertaken a history of automobile driving as a spatial experience of cities, landscapes and architecture, and particularly as represented in movies: Drive: Journeys through Film, Cities and Landscapes, (Reaktion, 2012).
For many years Iain Borden has been involved in skateboarding history, preservation and facility provision, including providing advice to Milton Keynes council in the early 2000s, which helped lead to the creation of the 'Buszy', sometimes considered to be the world's first skate plaza. In London, 2013, he was involved in events around the controversial Southbank Centre plans to relocate skateboarding on its site. He supported the retention of skateboarding at the original Undercroft location and elsewhere on the Southbank, appearing in the "Save Our Southbank" and Long Live Southbank videos to this end, and playing a significant part in the proposed new skateable space underneath the nearby Hungerford Bridge. In 2014, Borden also helped English Heritage list the iconic Rom skatepark in Hornchurch (constructed 1978), the first such skatepark in Europe to gain heritage protection, and is currently technical consultant for the forthcoming Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad documentary directed by Matt Harris. He has written several articles in national newspapers extolling the history, virtues and benefits of skateboarding to society, and has given advice on skateboard preservation, facility design and provision to numerous city authorities, architects and skatepark manufacturers in the UK and USA. In 2015-16, he acted as an adviser for the multi-million pound 'Urban Sports Park' in Folkestone, UK, designed by Guy Hollaway Architects and Maverick skateparks for the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, to be the world's first multi-level skatepark.
- Architecture and the Sites of History: Interpretations of Buildings and Cities, (Butterworth, 1995). Iain Borden and David Dunster (eds.).
- Strangely Familiar: Narratives of Architecture in the City, (Routledge, 1996). Iain Borden, Jane Rendell, Joe Kerr and Alicia Pivaro (eds.).
- Gender Space Architecture: an Interdisciplinary Introduction, (Routledge, 1999). Jane Rendell, Barbara Penner and Iain Borden (eds.).
- InterSections: Architectural Histories and Critical Theories, (Routledge, 2000). Iain Borden and Jane Rendell (eds.).
- The Unknown City: Contesting Architecture and Social Space, (MIT Press, 2001). Iain Borden, Jane Rendell, Joe Kerr with Alicia Pivaro (eds.).
- Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body, (Berg, 2001).
- Manual: the Architecture and Office of Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, (Birkhäuser, 2003).
- The City Cultures Reader, (Routledge, revised and expanded second edition, 2003). Malcolm Miles and Tim Hall with Iain Borden (eds.).
- Bartlett Works, (August Projects, 2003). Laura Allen, Iain Borden, Peter Cook and Rachel Stevenson (eds.).
- Transculturation: Cities, Spaces and Architectures in Latin America, (Rodopi, 2005). Felipe Hernandez, Mark Millington and Iain Borden (eds.).
- Skateboarding, Space and the City: Architecture and the Body, (Shin-yo-sha, 2006). Japanese edition, translation by Miho Nakagawa, Masako Saito and Tsunehiko Yabe.
- Bartlett Designs: Speculating With Architecture, (Wiley, 2009). Laura Allen, Iain Borden, Nadia O’Hare and Neil Spiller (eds).
- Drive: Journeys through Film, Cities and Landscapes, (Reaktion, 2012).
- Forty Ways To Think About Architecture: Architectural History and Theory Today, (Wiley, 2014). Iain Borden, Murray Fraser and Barbara Penner (eds).
- The Dissertation: a Guide for Architecture Students, (Architectural Press, 2000 and 2005; Routledge, new edition 2014). Iain Borden and Katerina Rüedi.
- Skateboarding and the City: a Complete History, (Bloomsbury, 2018/forthcoming).
- Borden's profile at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture
- Academic articles by Borden
- Iain Borden, Skateboarders are essential for our cities (The Independent)
- Iain Borden, Concrete playgrounds: Rom and the Southbank undercroft are just two of many skateparks to celebrate (The Guardian)
- Iain Borden, The new skate city: how skateboarders are joining the urban mainstream (The Guardian)
- Iain Borden, Ollies at the Olympics (The Conversation)