Sandra is an architect and National Teaching Fellow. Her research addresses the complex relationship between architectural practice and education.
As the Assistant Dean (Education) at the School of Architecture, Sandra joined the RCA championing inclusivity in architectural education and advocating the development of alternative pathways to engage with spatial practice and the architectural profession.
Her leadership has driven curriculum innovations which foster intercultural learner relationships across diverse disciplines, generating fresh insights to tackle global challenges.
Sandra has over twenty years of experience working in Higher Education. Before joining the RCA, she worked as Deputy Head of Architecture (Acting Head in 2018-19) at London Metropolitan University and has taught design with a Live Project Studio since 2000.
School, Centre or Area
Sandra has taught and published on the intersection of architectural education and practice.
She is an expert in working with students in community live projects, involving participatory and community-led design processes to the benefit of students and community stakeholders in the UK and abroad.
In 2016, Sandra set up the inter-disciplinary and cross-university research initiative Crossing Cultures. The research links design studio activities in London to a long-term live project in Calabria, Italy, run in collaboration with the not-for-profit organisation Le Seppie.
Situated in a depopulated rural area, the project addresses agricultural adaptability to climate change and settlement as a consequence of migration. The project experiments with new pedagogical models that facilitate both hands-on collaboration and blended learning through student residencies in Calabria.
Transformation Grant, London Metropolitan University 2022.
Rescaling Grant, London Metropolitan University 2021.
ERASMUS funded Training Programmes CAMP & CURVE with KAIROS Europe 2020.
National Teaching Fellowship, AdvanceHE 2018.
Senior Teaching Fellowship, AdvanceHE 2016.
Current and recent projects
Denicke-Polcher, S. and Adamo, R. (2023). Co-creating Architecture Education through Residencies in Calabria. In: Productive Disruptive Spaces of exploration in-between architectural pedagogy and practice, AAE Conference Proceedings, pp. 172-185.
Calissano F., Denicke-Polcher, S., Giacco D., and Haenschel, C. (2023). Participatory architecture workshops with asylum seekers and local people: Experiences from the Crossing Cultures project in Southern Italy. In: Health Education Journal, 82.1, pp. 95–107.
Denicke-Polcher, S. and McAllister, J. (2022). The Casa: architecture students in residence. In: D. Gethmann and P. Eckhard, ed., Beyond the Institution - Transforming the Learning Environment in Architectural Education. Graz: GAM - Architecture Magazine (18), pp. 74-85.
Denicke-Polcher, S. (2022). Reactivating underpopulated areas through participatory architecture in southern Italy by creating a home for newcomers. In: Architecture_MPS, 21.1. UCL Press.
Denicke-Polcher, S. and Fereday, G. (2022). Building social justice and student wellbeing through praxis-based pedagogies. In: Investigations in university teaching and learning, vol. 13, pp. 1-10.
Denicke-Polcher, S. (2021). Architecture of Multiple Authorship - teaching global citizenship through Crossing Cultures. In: D. Killick and M. Foster, ed., Learner Relationships in Global Higher Education: A Critical Pedagogy for a Multicultural World. London: Routledge, pp. 79-81.
Denicke-Polcher, S. (2020). Expanding the Scope of Architectural Education: Creating a Culture of Global Citizenship for Students. In: Charrette: Learning Through Practice, 6.2., pp. 31-52.
Denicke-Polcher, S. and O’Brien, A. (2020). Masks for Maternity. In: British Journal of Midwifery, 28 (5). pp. 284-285.
Denicke-Polcher, S. (2019). Architecture of Multiple Authorship: Beyond the Academic Year. In: K. Trogal et al., ed., Architecture & Resilience, Interdisciplinary Dialogues, London: Routledge, pp. 120-130.
Denicke-Polcher, S. (2017). Crossing Cultures. In: Architecture Connects, AAE Conference Proceedings, pp. 384-393
Denicke-Polcher, S. (2014). Rethinking Architectural Education - The new EU Directive and the Role of Live Projects, In: Living and Learning, AAE Conference Proceedings, pp. 122-125.
External collaborations and activities
Sandra has extensive experience as panel member for course validations at several universities in the UK and in Moscow and acts as external examiner for Architecture programmes in London.
She has chaired periodic reviews, co-led RIBA visits, gained extensive first-hand experience working with ARB, RIBA and SCOSA.
She has been a jury member for international competitions in Germany and the Middle East and conducted a workshop on urban regeneration for UN Habitat, Nairobi.