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Dr David Burns


  • David Burns is an architectural designer, researcher, curator, and artist. David coordinates Media Studies and is a tutor for ADS7 at the RCA. He was previously the founding director of the Bachelor of Design in Photography and Situated Media at the University of Technology Sydney, a visiting professor at the Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center, and the Paul Rudolph Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture at Auburn University.

  • Biography

  • David holds a MSc in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Tennessee. He is currently a PhD candidate at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London.

    He has worked as an architect and designer for Asymptote Architecture, the Guggenheim Museum, and Holabird and Root, among others. Since 2001 he has taught at universities in the United States, Australia, and the UK in faculties of architecture, art, and design.

    He began his academic career in 2001 as the Paul Rudolph Visiting Assistant Professor of Architecture at Auburn University, where he was a thesis advisor for several Rural Studio projects. From 2003–7 he was an adjunct assistant professor of architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and from 2006–7 a visiting professor at the Entertainment Technology Center, also at CMU. In 2008 he relocated to Australia to become senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney School of Architecture and in 2009 was hired to initiate the new Bachelor of Design in Photography and Situated Media in the UTS School of Design. He served as the Course Director for Photography and Situated Media from 2009–15.

    David has guest lectured extensively at universities in North America, Europe and Australia on architecture, photography, art, design, curation, and politics.

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  • External collaborations

  • David is a member of Standards Australia, the National Association of Visual Artists (Australia) and the Centre for Contemporary Design Practice. He is a founding advisor for Open Agenda, a yearly competition for speculative architectural research in Australia and New Zealand. He has worked with and been by supported by Kaldor Public Art Projects, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Arts Centre Melbourne.

Selected work


Research interests

David Burns is a researcher, architectural designer, curator, and artist. His research intersects architecture, image studies, and politics. His practice examines architectural conventions of repetition, redundancy, and reflection through site-specific architectural interventions.

David is a regular commentator on the intersections of architecture and art and has organised and participated in recent panel discussions and interviews for Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Kaldor Public Art Projects, and Arts Centre Melbourne. He has curated and contributed to exhibitions on architecture, art, and design in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

He is currently a PhD candidate at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. His research, titled ‘Spatial Politics of Refusal’ examines the confluence of Aboriginal and indigenous land rights struggles, migration policy, and the mining industry in Australia.

Current and recent research

How to be a Good Witness: The Architecture Curator

Critique 2013: An International Conference Reflecting on Creative Practice in Art, Architecture and Design. Co-authored with Samantha Spurr

This paper describes a unique role emerging in architectural criticism: the curator. The first section examines the status, relevance and location of contemporary curatorship in architecture, seeking to frame a specific curatorial position. It defines the lineage of this position historically and map out a contemporary constellation of practitioners and projects, from the recent phenomenon of celebrity curators to the global profusion of architecture pavilions.

Curation can be understood as a critical spatial practice in which social, political and cultural theories are enacted through spatial investigations. By distinguishing the characteristics of this curatorial practice, the authors begin to frame the agency and opportunities of this role within architectural and spatial discourse.