Prof Bruce Peter BA (Hons) MA RCA PhD

Job Title:

Professor of Design History




Bruce Peter
Cruise: Identity, Design and Culture

Bruce Peter


Prof Bruce Peter

Bruce’s research relates mainly to architecture and design for transport and leisure and entertainment. His PhD investigated relationships between architecture of pleasure and the modern movement in the inter-war era. Subsequent research has examined the design and material culture of cruise ships, ro-ro ferries and container shipping and logistics.

Ships and Shipping
Being half-Danish, Bruce first became interested in modern merchant shipping as a child when he sailed regularly across the North Sea between his two families. For most people, whose imaginations are landlocked, the sea appears to be a barrier but, when one goes to the coast and puts one’s hand in the water, one is touching the fringe of the same unbroken mass which stretches all over the world and on which it is possible to travel nearly anywhere. Until relatively recently, in Northern Europe, seaborne transport was much easier than carrying people and goods en masse over land and so efficient modern ships are the latest manifestations of well-established mercantile traditions.

Today, we live in a world often characterised by forces of mass production, distribution and leisure. Shopping malls, hotel resorts and leisure parks are the most visible examples of this on terra firma and the ones to which the public has most ready access. Concealed behind security fences and often in remote locations, a sophisticated and highly designed hidden infrastructure makes possible our ability to purchase seemingly everything relatively cheaply and at any time of year.

Bruce has observed that existing discourses about ships and shipping tend either to be technical discussions for consumption by specialists within the industry, nostalgic accounts for enthusiasts or narratives of naval heroism, which seemingly form the bulk of the mainstay of academicised maritime history. Thus, there is considerable potential for more multi-disciplinary approaches to examine the design history and material culture of modern merchant ships and shipping.

Architectures of entertainment and leisure
While Bruce’s shipping-related research focuses upon the ways in which modern global transport and distribution is achieved, his interest in leisure and entertainment architecture and design focuses on the sites of consumption. While an undergraduate student at the GSA in the 1990s, he researched and wrote his first book about Glasgow’s historic cinema buildings and cinema-going culture. Following his PhD, he has combined his interests in leisure design with ships to write a number of books about cruise ship design. Recently, he has begun to scope a new research project about British hotel architecture in the post-World War 2 era.

Bruce Peter on RADAR

The Ferry: A Design Voyage

The Ferry: A Design Voyage Peter, Bruce (2021) The Fer...

10/05/21 15:48

Ferries of Corsica, Sardinia and Elba

Ferries of Corsica, Sardinia and Elba Peter, Bruce (20...

10/05/21 15:36

Danish Design at Sea: Ship Interior Architecture and Furnishing

Danish Design at Sea: Ship Interior Architecture and Furn...

10/05/21 15:29

Fine Art Critical Studies and Design History and Theory on RADAR

Fine Art Critical Studies and Design History and Theory on RADAR |

Papers from research staff