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Sam is a chartered architect with a diploma from the Architectural Association School of Architecture (UK) and a doctorate from the Technische Universität Berlin (Germany) in architectural history and theory.

A committed educator, Sam has over 17 years teaching experience in 12 different professional and post-professional degree programmes across six leading schools of architecture. As founder and long-time Director of the MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design: Projective Cities at the Architectural Association School of Architecture (2009–19), he developed a unique design research programme that prepares its graduates for PhD studies and diverse research careers in practice and academia.

Sam was previously an interim professor at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart and has taught at the Bartlett School of Architecture (University College London), University of Nottingham and Hochschule Anhalt.

Key details

School, Centre or Area


  • People’s Commune and Danwei

    People’s Commune and Danwei

  • Beserlpark


  • Collective Forms (Research Project)

    Collective Forms (Research Project)

  • Drawing Architecture and the Urban

    Drawing Architecture and the Urban

More information

Sam’s diverse practice-led and research-based teaching focuses on interdisciplinary design research with public and social impact. 

His general areas of research lie in architectural design research, urban design, and architectural and urban history and theory, while focusing on typological analyses, histories and methodologies. He is particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches to examining interactions between spatial and social forms and policies.

Sam has worked in private practice and as a design consultant to offices in the UK, Malaysia and Croatia since 2002. His work covers a wide range of project scales and building typologies, and is informed by his academic design research. Before setting up in private practice, Sam worked for architectural and planning offices in the UK, Germany, USA, and Malaysia, and trained as a cabinet-maker in Germany.

Defining Architectural Typologies Through Structural Topologies and Machine Learning, 2019–23

Applicant/primary supervisor (partner AKT II), Collaborative Doctoral Award, London Arts & Humanities Partnership (AHRC) – PhD candidate: Yakim Milev

This research examines the often overlooked relationships between topological structural models and architectural typologies, and their implications for new construction and design processes. It asks: Can integrating a structural and architectural design process delineate new architectural building typologies that are defined by structural topologies, and do these provide useful design responses to social and economic needs in the building industry? It aims to develop design models and processes based on machine learning needed by spatial designers working on architectures that adapt their performance to environmental, social, and economic changes, use less energy, and provide better environmental comfort and space efficiency than static buildings. The PhD by Project proposes an interdisciplinary methodology that brings together existing, statistical and computational methods of analysis from engineering and the sciences and typological design and research methods from an architectural and arts context. 

The Effects of Migration on Settlements and Urbanisation in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Sudan, 2019–20

PI (Co-I Adrian Lahoud), HEFCE QR Global Challenges Research Fund

The project studies urban forms and typologies of migration in relation to social, economic, and environmental problems and inequalities people face. The project will work with policymakers and local communities to develop new approaches to conceptualising, analysing, and dealing with spatial planning challenges created by migration.

Housing Standardisation: Design Guidelines, Regulatory Frameworks, and Policy, 2019–20

PI (Co-PI Alvaro Arancibia), RKE Research Development Fund, RCA and Seed Fund, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

The project examines the impact of quantitative and qualitative standards on housing design and in relation to housing design guidelines, regulatory frameworks, and policy, while asking what the role of social housing is today. Project outcomes are a pilot study of three national contexts (UK, China and Chile) and an initial international housing design survey.

Construction Automation and Building Processes, 2019

Co-I (PI Manja van de Dorp), RKE Research Development Fund, RCA

The effects of construction automation on building processes will be examined through a desktop study, case study analysis, and literature review of existing and new design and construction methods needed in the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, as well as a series of interviews, site visits, and a workshop with experts in automated construction. The aim of the project is to develop a set of refined mid- and long-term research questions with practical values for the development of automated construction in the AEC industry.

Laboratory for Design and Machine Learning 2018–22

Co-PI (Co-PI Adrian Lahoud), Prosit Philosophiae Foundation

The Laboratory for Design and Machine Learning has a multi-disciplinary team working on experimental and fundamental research into new methodologies and knowledge needed for emerging design processes at the intersection of machine learning, data processing and visualisation, and legal and developmental frameworks. Its research is dedicated to testing new interdisciplinary forms of designing and evaluation, hereby studying the impact of machine learning and governmental policies on spatial design. 

Collective Forms: Neighbourhood Transformations, Spatialised Governmentality and New Communities in China 2018–19

PI (Co-Is Tan Gangyi, He Xuefeng, Tang Yan), British Academy (The Humanities and Social Sciences Tackling the UK’s International Challenges 2017) 

This research examined how social projects, spaces, and realities shape three contexts critical to understanding urban design and planning in China: modes of governmentality; the history of collective spatial development models in relation to current community development; and socio-spatial changes in urban and rural developments. A comparative analysis of community developments in China and a programme of knowledge exchange will study how a national collectivisation in the 1950s created rural people’s commune and urban work-unit systems that laid the foundations to today’s urban problems. Their socio-spatial design, despite extensive policy reforms since 1978, continue to control access to public infrastructures and services, but also created resilient governance and community-building models. The effects of spatial transformations of governmentality are little researched by urban designers and require a new interdisciplinary approach that offers alternatives to Western-centric theory and practice. This is of global relevance, including the UK and its new community-led developments.

Miaosan Community Study, 2018

PI (Co-I Zhang Zhan), Environmental Art Research Centre, Wuhan

Design consultation on an urban regeneration project for the Miaosan Community, Beihu Sub-district, Wuhan, P. R. China.

Classification and Evaluation of Spatial Design in Learning Environments 2016

PI, RKE Research Development Fund, RCA, £6,879

The project is to develop a new spatial classification of higher education learning environments that relate design parameters to pedagogies, and to propose methods to qualitatively evaluate the impact of design on academic learning, teaching and research. The project will bring together a group of advisors from industry, government, and institutions with experience in the design, assessment, commissioning or running of higher education buildings. Through a series of short workshops, feedback from other disciplines and outside experts is sought on the formulation of classification and assessment criteria of learning environments.

Drawing Architecture and the Urban, 2014

PI, Architectural Research Fund, University College London

Grant in support of research for the publication Drawing Architecture and the Urban.

Selected Publications 


Sam Jacoby and Jingru Cheng, eds., The Socio-spatial Design of Community and Governance (Springer Nature/Tongji University Press, forthcoming 2019) 

Sam Jacoby, Drawing Architecture and the Urban (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2016)

Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby, eds., Typological Formations: Renewable Building Types and the City (London: AA Publications, 2007)

Edited journals

Sam Jacoby, Jingru Cheng, and Gangyi Tan, eds., ‘Collective Forms in China: A Contemporary Review’, special issue of New Architecture (新建筑/Xin Jianzhu), 5 (October 2018)

Sam Jacoby, ed., ‘Type versus Typology’, special issue of The Journal of Architecture, 20.6 (December 2015)

Sam Jacoby, ed., ‘New Design Research in Architecture and Urban Design’, special issue of Urban Flux (城市空间设计/Chengshi Kongjian Shiji), 45.5 (October 2015) 

Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby, eds., ‘Typological Urbanism: Projective Cities’, special issue of Architectural Design, 81.1 (January/February 2011)

Book chapters

Jasper Cepl, Sam Jacoby, and Valerio Massaro, ‘Oswald Mathias Ungers and the “City as a Work of Art”: The “Neue Stadt” in Cologne, 1961–64’, in The Renewal of Dwelling, ed. by Ello Mosayebi (Triest Verlag, forthcoming 2019)

Sam Jacoby, Architectural Urbanism: Proposals for the Arab World’, in Reconceptualising Boundaries: Urban Design in the Arab World, ed. by Robert Saliba (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), pp. 97–113

Sam Jacoby, ‘Punctuated Equilibrium: The Typal Conviction of Serie’, in Working in Series, ed. by Christopher Lee and Kapil Gupta (London: AA Publications, 2010), pp. 70–3

Sam Jacoby and Christopher Lee, For the City. From the City’, in Architectural Association / City Cultures Research Cluster 2009/2010, ed. by Marina Lathouri and Ryan Dillon (London: Architectural Association, 2010), pp. 62–5

Journal articles

Sam Jacoby, ‘Collective Forms and Collective Spaces: A Discussion of Urban Design Thinking and Practice Based on Research in Chinese Cities’, China City Planning Review, (forthcoming 2019)

Sam Jacoby and Jingru Cheng, ‘Collective Forms in China: People’s Commune and Danwei’, New Architecture (新建筑/Xin Jianzhu), 5 (October 2018), 5–11

Sam Jacoby, ‘Oswald Mathias Ungers, Dialectical Principles of Design’, The Journal of Architecture, 23.7-8 (November 2018), 1230–58

Jasper Cepl, Sam Jacoby, and Valerio Massaro, ‘Grünzug Süd: An Urban Design Manifesto’, San Rocco, 14 (May 2018), 133–43 

Jingru Cheng and Sam Jacoby, ‘Design Research and Architectural Urbanism: Cross-disciplinary Knowledge Production and Practice’, New Architecture (新建筑/Xin Jianzhu), 5 (2017), pp. 141–43 

Sam Jacoby, ‘Type versus Typology’, The Journal of Architecture, 20.6 (December 2015), 931–37

Sam Jacoby, ‘Typal and Typological Reasoning: A Diagrammatic Practice of Architecture’, The Journal of Architecture, 20.6 (December 2015), 938–61

Sam Jacoby, ed., ‘Conversations on Formal and Social Diagrams’, The Journal of Architecture, 20.6 (December 2015), 1105–21 

Sam Jacoby, ‘Design Research: Pedagogies and Methodologies’, Urban Flux (城市空间设计/Chengshi Kongjian Shiji), 45.5 (October 2015), 8–19

Christopher Lee and Sam Jacoby, ‘Typological Urbanism and the Idea of the City’, Architectural Design, 81.1 (January/February 2011), 14–23


2019, 2nd Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism | Collective Forms in China: Wuhan (Cities Exhibition) with Jingru Cheng; Collective Subjectivities and Housing (Global Studios Exhibition) with Platon Issaias

2018, Venice Biennale, 16th International Architecture Exhibition: Across Chinese Cities – The Community | People’s Commune and Danwei (with Jingru Cheng)

2016, Beijing Design Week 2016 | Collective Forms in China (with Jingru Cyan Cheng)

2016, 1st Tehran Architecture Biennial: Architecture Today | Drawing Architecture and the Urban

2012, Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York City: Past Futures, Present, Futures | Ungers’s Villa [Roosevelt Island]

2009, AA Exhibitions, London: Projective Landmarks - London Plan of Tomorrow | co-curator with Christopher Lee

2009, UTS Gallery, Sydney: Urban Futures: Ideas of the City | co-curator with Tarsha Finney and Christopher Lee


2019, Architectural Association School of Architecture (London): Representations/Investigations: Media in Architecture, the Territory and the Urban (co-organiser with Platon Issaias)

2018, Royal College of Art (London): Spatialised Governmentality: China and the Global Context

2018, Tsinghua University (Beijing): The Chinese Neighbourhood Unit

2018, Huazhong University of Science and Technology (Wuhan): Collective Forms: New Communities

2018, Royal College of Art (London): Future Homes for London: Alternate Models (co-organised with Tarsha Finney and StART Haringey)

2017: Huaxin Conference Centre (Shanghai): Architectural Urbanism (co-organised with Jingru Cheng)

2017: Shanghai Jia Tong Univeristy (Shanghai): Socio-spatial Design and the Transformation of Urban-rural China (co-organised with Jingru Cheng)

2017, Huazhong University of Science and Technology (Wuhan): Collectives and Housing in China II (2017) (co-organised with Jingru Cheng)

2016, Huazhong University of Science and Technology (Wuhan): Collectives and Housing in China I (2016) (co-organised with Jingru Cheng) 

2016, Architectural Association School of Architecture (London): Contemporary Urban Design Education

2014, Architectural Association School of Architecture (London): Type versus Typology

2011, Architectural Association School of Architecture (London): Typological Urbanism (co-organised with Christopher Lee)

Research Collaborations

Sam has led or co-organised funded research and knowledge exchange activities with the following institutions:

  • Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
  • Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  • Wuhan University, Wuhan, China
  • Shanghai Jia Tong Univeristy, Shanghai, China
  • Environmental Art Research Centre of the Hubei Institute of Fine Arts, Wuhan, China
  • Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile
  • VA Art Education

Peer Reviews

Sam has peer reviewed articles and book proposals for various academic journals and publishers, and assessed funding applications for public funding bodies, including:

  • Digital Architecture (Frontiers in Digital Humanities)
  • Urban Planning (Cogitatio)
  • Arena Journal of Architectural Research (Architectural Research European Network Association)
  • The Journal of Architecture (RIBA/Routledge)
  • Architectural Research Quarterly (Cambridge University Press)
  • Architecture and Culture Journal (Architectural Humanities Research Association)
  • Routledge
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • British Academy 

External Committee Membership 

Graduate School Bursary Committee, Architectural Association School of Architecture (2009–19)

Academic Board, Architectural Association School of Architecture (2017–18)

Graduate School Board, Dessau International Architecture Graduate School (2017–18)

Graduate School Management Committee, Architectural Association School of Architecture (2009–18)

PhD Committee, Architectural Association School of Architecture (2013–17)

Fachgruppe Architektur, Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart (2016)


2019: Juror for Archiprix International 2019 (in Santiago de Chile)

Since 2018: London Doctoral Design Centre, supervisor