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Student Showcase Archive

Paul Priest

PhD Work

PhD work

  • Plate 1 - Visualising Practice - Still From Simulated Dataflow in Processing

    Plate 1 - Visualising Practice - Still From Simulated Dataflow in Processing, Paul Priest 2018

  • Plate 2 - Visualising Practice - Still From Simulated Dataflow in Processing

    Plate 2 - Visualising Practice - Still From Simulated Dataflow in Processing, Paul Priest 2018

The Architecture of Global Compliance; Mapping Lawscapes to Protect the Rights of the Individual.

1. Keywords

Regulatory Lawscape, International Development, Environment Social and Governance (ESG), Development Ethics, RIBA Code of Conduct

2. Non-technical Summary

      This research by project investigates mandated responsibility of international modern slavery governance to a revised standard of conduct for RIBA chartered architects. Forensic analysis will disentangle regulatory ecosystems across jurisdictions and countries through mapping to spatialise legal territory and reveal policy and process. In making visible the complexity of a seemingly straightforward requirement, it will define an obscure and evolving lawscape to inform procedures necessary for ethical decision-making and thus empower architects in protecting the rights of the individual.

3. Research Proposal

      Underpinning Ideas
      This research addresses the dual pressures of upholding the integrity of the professional standards of RIBA chartered practice and advancing social responsibility in construction. It explores the impact of regulatory change on the architect’s duty of care by defining the standards of conduct required for compliance across a global lawscape. Despite a prevalence of international regulation, the endemic nature of modern slavery suggests these initiatives remain ineffective in practice. This ecosystem ranges from hard to soft, global and local, human rights, labour rights, social and economic governance. Further, the architect must practice within and against frameworks of deliberate deregulation, jurisdictional complexity and permissive governments. Despite demands for reform, the profession is deficient in resilient practical solutions. Consequently, members are underequipped to navigate the complex and often vague obligations of social policy and so remain powerless in protecting the rights of the individual.

       The project will suggest a shift is required in the ethical culture and procedural patterns of industry if social change is to be achieved. In making visible the complexity of a seemingly straightforward requirement, it will define an obscure and evolving lawscape to inform procedures necessary for ethical decision-making and accountability. It will explore whether increased transparency, driven by the disclosure of due diligence in identifying and discharging obligations of a rights-based approach to construction, could act as an instrument for reform through behavioural change and self-regulation.

      The 2019 revision of the Code of Professional Conduct will have significant repercussions for many of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) 42,000 members, particularly those delivering work overseas. With 38% of chartered practice’s international revenue coming from the Middle East, the significance of this market combined with concerns over the social and environmental impacts of its rapid growth, provide grounds to select Dubai as the location of this research.
      These issues, however, also concern the UK. Architectural workers union UVW-SAW claim the prevalence of exploitation of the young, discrimination and unpaid obligatory overtime, and an Architect’s Journal survey reports that mental health issues now affect one-third of British architects.
      Finally, this research also has potential for the application of its methodologies and data across subject and discipline to equally critical global issues, such as our climate emergency, to facilitate alignment and build capacity.

      This is the first study that attempts to map the lawscape surrounding modern slavery regulation and its implication for the built environment disciplines. Its original contribution is grounded in a primary dataset formed of a professional survey which will, for the first time, map the baseline of knowledge around this portion of the Code of Professional Conduct among active RIBA members and produce a digital archive through empirically grounded research of modern slavery in architecture.

4. Research Design and Methodology

      The complex and evolving ecosystem of regulatory governance presents a unique opportunity to engage with and systematically examine the real-world challenges of a built environment political economy.
      The research design approach, therefore, is by project and is practice-led by its application of the scientist-practitioner model. Located at the intersection of policy and process, it is interdisciplinary and unites industry with academia. Within a controlled scholarly environment, I will conduct due diligence as I would in practice using a rights-based approach to create a digital archive that will identify and define procedures necessary for discharging modern slavery obligations.
      Built on solid ontological and epistemological theory, it will apply principles of corporate governance, institutional behaviour change, development ethics and policy coherence. These themes drawn from the profession itself, have become central in the debate of how international projects and social governance are to coexist for the RIBA chartered architect. The project will move across scale and jurisdiction, from professional governance in the UK to professional practice in the UAE and in doing so, reveal individual mechanisms and gaps in governance.

5. Research Questions

1. How can RIBA chartered architects uphold their Code of Professional Conduct across extraterritorial jurisdictions, to comply with all applicable legislation concerning modern slavery?
1a. What is the existing level of skill and care of the reasonably competent member of the RIBA in the identification and discharge of these obligations?
1b. What are the requirements for compliance with all applicable modern slavery legislation for the RIBA chartered architect delivering projects in Dubai?
1c. What might experimental and cross-sectoral methods of visual representation offer to the understanding of complexity within the demands of the institutional Code of Professional Conduct for modern slavery?



  • PhD


    School of Architecture


    Architecture Research, 2018–

  • My research interests lie in revealing the complexity of seemingly straightforward scenarios using visual tools as a research method to draw out relationships and paradoxes. As a chartered member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, I have 20 years of international industry experience and a multi-billion-dollar built architecture portfolio. This exposure has developed a sincere respect for diverse cultures and practices and a profound desire to redeploy my knowledge and agency to make a positive social contribution. I feel most comfortable when inhabiting the edges, and hold equality, morality and justice as central societal values, hence are the subjects of my academic work.

  • Degrees

  • Master of Research (MRes) in Architecture, Royal College of Art (RCA); Diploma in Architectural Professional Practice (ARB) RIBA Part III, University of Westminster, 2005 – 2006; Diploma in Architecture (Dip. Arch) RIBA Part II, Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, 2000 – 2002; Bachelor of Science in Architecture (BSc. Hons) RIBA Part I, University of Bedfordshire, 1996 – 1999
  • Experience

  • Director and Head of Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Studios at Benoy, Abu Dhabi / Dubai / Bahrain, March 2014 - September 2017; Senior Associate Director at Benoy, Abu Dhabi, December 2013 - March 2014; Associate Director at Benoy, Abu Dhabi, March 2012 - December 2013; Senior Architect at SPARK, Abu Dhabi / Singapore, December 2009 - March 2012; Senior Architect at Benoy, London, June 2007 - October 2009; Architect at Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, London, June 2002 - June 2007; Architectural Assistant, Ahrends, Burton and Koralek (ABK), London, July 1999 - October 2000
  • Awards

  • No.8: Middle East Power List 2016, Middle East Architect; No.5: Middle East Power List 2015, Middle East Architect; No.5: Middle East Power List 2014, Middle East Architect; Principal of the Year 2014, Middle East Architect Awards
  • Conferences

  • RIBA Research Matters Conference, University of Sheffield, 18th October 2018; Critical Intentions, Royal College of Art, 16th January 2019
  • Publications

  • Outside Is Now In for Abu Dhabi, Mar 6 2017, Connected Cities; Q&A: Paul Priest On Dubai's Design Landscape, Feb 22 2017, Gulf News; Dubai Design Week: Major architectural players moving to Dubai, Oct 27 2016, The National; Zaha Hadid Architects, Calatrava, Benoy and Foster + Partners to open Dubai offices, Oct 26 2016, Design MENA; Benoy Releases Plans for Large Sustainable Community Park in Abu Dhabi, Sep 11 2016, Arch Daily; DEVELOPMENT: Khalidiyah Community Park to get Amazing Upgrade, Sep 8 2016, Abu Dhabi World; A Brand New Park is Coming to Abu Dhabi! Sep 6 2016, Channel 4 FM; New Abu Dhabi Park to Promote Sustainability, Economic Diversity, Sep 5 2016, The New Arab; RAK Properties Plans $1.3bn Project at Mina Al Arab, Sep 5 2016, ME Construction News; New Visuals reveal futuristic vision for Abu Dhabi's Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Park, Sep 5 2016, Zawya; New Abu Dhabi Park to Promote Sustainability and Local Culture, Sep 5 2016, The National; Designer hired for $1bn Bahrain Airport interiors, May 3 2016, Arabian Business Publishing Ltd; Benoy lands design work for Bahrain airport terminal, May 2 2016, CPI Media Group; Designer picked for $1bn Bahrain Airport interiors, May 1 2016, ITP Business Publishing Ltd; Designing Destinations, May 1 2016, Middle East Consultant; Q&A With Paul Priest, Apr 23 2016, Cityscape Magazine; Architects Keen on Calatrava-designed Tower at Dubai Creek Project, Feb 7 2016, The National; Power List 2015, Jan 1 2016, Middle East Architect; INTERVIEW - Benoy sees growing design portfolio in MENA, Dec 29 2015, Sona Nambiar - Zawya; Meet The Judges At This Year's Middle East Architect Awards, Oct 8 2015, Middle East Architect; Urban Artificial Beach Is Centerpiece Of Benoy Project, Oct 8 2015, Middle East Architect; A Look At Architectural Innovations That Will Shape Future Cities, Sep 9 2015, Gulf News; Tourism Fuels Retail Sector Growth, Sep 9 2015, Wall Street Journal; The Beach: Where Leisure Meets Retail, Sep 9 2015, Wall Street Journal; Architecture For People, Sep 8 2015, Middle East Architect; Benoy Announces Its Appointment To New Nairobi Showground, Sep 7 2015, Architects Datafile; Benoy’s Designs for Bahrain Marina Development Project Move Forward, Jun 9 2015, Building Construction Design; A New Tourist Hub for Dubai, May 7 2015, Middle East Architect; Benoy’s The Beach in Dubai named National Champion in the MEED Quality Awards, Apr 1 2015, Building Construction Design; Riyadh Park in KSA by Benoy, Mar 21 2015, a as architecture; Benoy Announce Major Saudi Project,Mar 12 2015, DesignMENA; The Art of Benoy, Feb 15 2015, Cityscape Magazine; Benoy Completes Bahrain Marina First Phase Plans, Jan 21 2015, Construction Week Online; No.5: Middle East Power List 2015, Jan 5 2015, Middle East Architect; Paul Priest Takes Home Award for Principal of the Year at Middle East Architect Awards, Nov 20 2014, AEC Online; Paul Priest Of Benoy Outlines His Architectural Inspirations, Nov 11 2014, Construction Week; Benoy Sees Projects Step Up In The Region, Oct 30 2014, Middle East Architect; Developers Widening Briefs, Oct 8 2014, Middle East Architect; Benoy Extols Virtues of Shopping Mall Experience, Oct 2 2014, Construction Week; Dubai is Laboratory for New Global Architecture, Sep 24 2014, Construction Week; Developers Looking for Long-term Commitments from Architects, Sep 24 2014, Arabian Industry; Dubai Show Reveals Health of Property Market, Sep 24 2014, Wall Street Journal; Perspectives - The Galleria, Aug 10 2014, Middle East Architect; Creating Iconic Destinations In The UAE, Jul 25 2014, Gulf News; Creating Desirable Spaces, Jun 29 2014, Property Times; Global Recognition for Benoy-Designed Abu Dhabi Project The Galleria, Jun 17 2014, Emirates Magazine; Construction Week Interview - My Favourite Building, Jun 8 2014, Construction Week; Arabian Industry Interview - My Favourite Building, Jun 8 2014, Arabian Industry; Dubai's beach with a view - The Beach at JBR, May 24 2014, Property Weekly; Debate: Evolving Edge Or Out Of Town Retailing, May 20 2014, Benoy; Project update: The Beach, May 3 2014, Construction Week; Meraas Holding's New Retail and Leisure Scheme Opens JBR to Beachfront, May 3 2014, Arabian Industry; Creativity at Work in New UAE Developments, Apr 14 2014, Gulf News; Developers and Architects Tweak Retail Concepts in UAE, Apr 14 2014, Zawya; The Beach To Change Character Of Dubai, Apr 1 2014, Arabian Industry; The Beach To 'Change Character of Dubai', Apr 1 2014, Construction Week; GREAT Week, Mar 20 2014, UKTI; Editor's Note, Mar 1 2014, Middle East Consultant