The School of Architecture is committed to design and research that has impact in the world. We champion a model of the architect as a public intellectual who is able to formulate critical positions on the challenges confronting the built environment and the role of the architect in relation to them.
In both research and pedagogy, the School advances the theory and practice of critical design at all scales: from the interior to the city. In keeping with an institution that values innovative practice, as well as academic research, design-led research is integrated with more conventional text-based enquiry.
MPhil and PhD students join us as fellow researchers, some working directly on the School’s research themes, others pursuing their own research interests. These range from the subversion of the UK planning system to the aesthetics of Italian transport infrastructure. Supervisors are drawn from the School’s staff, from the College and from industry in response to the diversity of subjects and there is competitive funding available for prospective students. To find our more about research degrees in the School, see MPhil/PhD Architecture.
Current Staff Research
David Burns is currently researching the spatial politics of excision in acts perpetrated both by and against the Australian state. The research begins with the pivotal Aboriginal Tent Embassy of 1972, an act of excision by Aboriginal and Black Power activists that concretised a key moment in shifting relations between Indigenous peoples in Australia and their colonisers. For my research, the Embassy is also an architectural apparatus that symbolises the perforation of the Australian state. This is but one of a long series of perforations examined, including the 1947 establishment of the Woomera Rocket Range, the 1966 creation of the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, the British nuclear weapons testing from 1952-1963, the Woomera Immigration Reception and Processing Centre of 1999, and many others. My project focuses simultaneously on two, seemingly incommensurable, interpretations of the term excision: excision by the state and excision by actors against the state. These disparate yet interrelated positions are merged to establish a multi-scalar and multi-temporal history of Australian land rights in reverse. Click here for full profile.
Tarsha Finney is a trained architect, architectural urbanist and educator whose work is focused on questions of spatial reasoning and the socio-politics of housing and domesticity in the building and transforming of cities. She has led several significant grants in Australia that have linked local and state government, industry and the academy around questions of governance, urban transformation and more recently housing diversity in the city. In addition, since 2015 she has been participant and organiser of a number of collaborative conferences in the UK that linked the RCA with other UK and Australian Universities around questions of disciplinary agency and city building. Click here for full profile.
Dr Maria Giudici
Dr Maria Shéhérazade Giudici’s research examines the way in which public space and infrastructure have been strategised in the modern European city as a way to construct the ideal citizen of a mature nation-state. The ‘space between buildings’, the void that makes the city a shared domain, has been therefore her main object of inquiry for the first part of her academic career together with a broader investigation of what she terms the 'natural city', or the post-political city. In the last few years, however, this same interest towards the project of subjectivity has shifted on the scale of architecture proper, first with research on the architecture of sacred spaces (Rituals and Walls, co-edited with P. V. Aureli and published in 2016 by AA Publications) and later with Giudici’s current interest in housing.
Giudici is currently writing and lecturing on the 'home front' as the place where reproductive labour is choreographed and, at the same time, hidden by the rhetoric of domesticity. As such, her recent work has been mainly concentrated on issues of gender and typological development. Giudici considers the three scales as intimately interconnected and while the latest developments can be formulated as a feminist critique of architecture, she sees this critique as part of a broader investigation on the relationship between architecture and its political instrumentality in constructing specific forms of life. Click here for full profile.
Dr Jon Goodbun
Dr Jon Goodbun trained as an architect and specialised with two additional masters degrees in algorithmic scripting on the MSc Computing and Design (Topological Manifolds and Multi-Perspectival Space with Prof Paul Coates at UEL) and historiography/theory on the MSc Architectural History (Empathising with Abstraction with Prof Adrian Forty at Bartlett). Goodbun’s research interests explore architecture in relation to cognition and the environment. His 2011 doctoral thesis - The Architecture of the Extended Mind - made a specifically spatial and architectural contribution to Gregory Bateson’s conception of an ecology of mind, by drawing upon and extending three significant contributions from the Marxian tradition concerning cognitive mapping, the production of space and the production of nature. Goodbun co-wrote the one million euro Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment EU HERA research project, which resulted in several publications including The Design of Scarcity (Strelka 2014), and his broad-ranging work has been published widely in Journal of Architecture, Architectural Design, Architects’ Journal, Architecture Today, CAN, AJAR, e-flux and Radical Philosophy. Goodbun has received various research grants including an RIBA research award for his work on the political ecology of concrete, and he has supervised one RIBA Research medal winning PhD thesis (on scarcity and informal housing), and one RIBA Silver Medal. Goodbun’s recent research has been based in the archive of Gregory Bateson at UC Santa Cruz, looking at the seminal anthropologist’s work with ecological, cybernetic and urban models. Building on this work, he is currently preparing a broad meta-research bid on The Systems of the World in which he develops a number of concepts including a ’post-representational' understanding of cognitive mapping as a 'dialectical space' of empathy and alienation, and abduction and affordance. Click here for full profile.
Dr Harriet Harriss
Harriet Harriss' research concerns innovative architectural pedagogies comprehensively, and it’s intersection with feminist theory specifically. These overlapping themes are exemplified within her most recent books; Radical Pedagogies: Architectural Education & the British Tradition, A Gendered Profession, her papers including Gendered, Non-Gendered, Re-Gendered Tools for Spatial Production and within the Women Write Architecture project: intended to address the gender imbalance in architecture school reading lists. Harriet’s research addresses the urgency of responding to the way established discourses and privileged epistemic practices have been shaping social relations in architecture. It proposes an epistemological paradigm shift by interrogating architectures pedagogic principals, as a means to envision and implement strategies that will enable architecture (both education and practice) to become as diverse as the society it seeks to serve. Click here for full profile.
Beth Hughes' research is an investigation into the urban and architectural history of Mediterranean Islands especially with respect to the impact of migration and conflict with a special focus on the Greek Island of Leros in the Dodecanese. The island of Leros consists of a unique case study into the history of the Mediterranean, an entire ecosystem defined by exile, detainment and violent processes of subjectification within which architecture plays a fundamental role. Islands offer a unique lens with which to understand the historical sequence of mobility and its restriction in the region and therefore to better situate contemporary crises precipitated by mass migration and securitisation. Click here for full profile.
Dr Platon Issaias
Platon Issaias’s research interests explore architecture in relation to the politics of labour, law and social reform. His PhD thesis (TU Delft) investigated the recent history of planning in Athens and the link between conflict, urban management and architectural form. Platon’s research and design work has been published on many occasions, publications include DOMUS, Quaderns and the catalogues of the Greek entries in the 13th and the 14th Venice Architectural Biennale. He is the co-author of the book The City as a Project, published in 2013 by Ruby Press, Berlin, edited by Pier Vittorio Aureli.
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Dr Sam Jacoby
Jacoby has a background in architectural history and architectural and urban design practice. His research is focused on spatial design research and design agency and assessment. Common aims of the research are to better understand the multi-scalar and interdisciplinary practices, methodologies, and pedagogies of spatial design and the values they produce, and to develop new practice-led approaches to design research and its scientific evaluation. Current research projects deal with the impact of past collective forms of spatial development in China on contemporary community-building agendas and urban policies; the relationship between sociospatial forms and governmentality in housing; qualitative typological design processes versus quantitative machine learning; architectural urbanism and pedagogy; and the assessment of design in informal or flexible learning spaces. Click here for full profile.
Dr Adam Kaasa
Dr Adam Kaasa is an urban sociologist and his research asks social and political questions about the city foregrounding architecture and design. He is particularly interested in the post-war architectural production, in public space and its contemporary transformation, and in architecture as a process beyond built form. He has expertise in Latin America, particularly Mexico and Brazil, and in the UK. Theoretically he is guided by post and de-colonial theories, feminist and queer theories that work against prevailing Eurocentric histories of architecture and those legacies in pedagogy and practice. His work aims to ask questions about the role of architecture and design in an era of acute global inequality, superdiversity and migration, and endemic neoliberal structures of life. Current projects include The Architecture of Capital, looking to how architecture and design confronts structures of late neoliberalism; Migrating Architecture, looking at how ideas circulate and the power relationships involved; and Theatrum Mundi, a global network of people from the visual and performing arts, and the built environment disciplines investigating urban culture in the twenty-first century.
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Dr Godofredo Pereira
Godofredo Pereira’s research is focused on two main lines of enquiry: the Underground Frontier and Collective Objects. The Underground Frontier deals with spatial and territorial conflicts within the planetary race for underground resources. It has a particular focus on geo-architecture and the political projects associated with resource extraction in Latin America. The research on Collective Objects addresses the role of architecture in the formation of collective identities, with a focus on semiotic, anthropological and psychoanalitical theories of part- and partial objects. These two strands of research have informed both his teaching and a series of parallel research projects.
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School of Architecture Research Themes
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