I joined the University of Westminster in 2004, where I am currently Assistant Head of the School of Architecture + Cities. As an architect I have designed and led a wide range of award-winning projects in housing and education sectors. These have included the Wilberforce Institute: National Archive for the Transatlantic Slave Trade & the Black Diaspora (recipient of the Royal Society of Arts Art for Architecture Award), the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (competition-winning library extension to a listed building designed by Sir Denys Lasdun), and St Mary & St Pancras Primary School (a Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment – CABE – exemplar building of hybrid modular and traditional masonry construction).
In addition to teaching at the University of Westminster, I am a Visiting Professor to APIED School of Architecture & Urban Design, Vidhyanagar (India), an External Examiner (History & Theory) at the University of Johannesburg (South Africa), and an external PhD Supervisor at the Università Iuav di Venezia, Venice (Italy). From 2017 onwards, I will be co-leading an annual symposium at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris la Villette (France) with the Masters Studio ‘Le Fait Urbain, L'architecture et ses Paysages’. I have also previously served as an examiner at the University of Nottingham and the University of Portsmouth. I have been a visiting critic and guest lecturer at many schools of architecture including the Royal College of Art, The Bartlett (University College London), London Metropolitan University, Central St. Martins (University of the Arts, London), Manchester School of Architecture, Welsh School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University, and the University of Brighton. I am also currently Architecture Editor for the multidisciplinary academic journal National Identities: Critical Inquiry into Nationhood, Politics & Culture (Taylor & Francis) and an Editorial Board member for the architecture journal FOLIO (funded by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts).
A persistent theme throughout my architectural teaching, practice, and research activity is an active engagement with the politics of the discipline. This has included (often interrelated) critical explorations of design studio culture, the concepts of ‘difference’ and ‘diversity’, architectural pedagogy, and the agency of the architect. These issues have been explored through various projects, groups, roles, and organisations including as a founding member of ThirdSpace (a UK-based collective examining the relationship between architecture and cultural identity), as Communications Director of The Society of Black Architects, as a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Education Committee, as Chair of Architects for Change at the RIBA, and through collaboration with groups such as CABE, RIBA ‘Building Futures’, and the Serpentine Gallery’s ‘Centre for Possible Studies’. I have been on judging panels for a number of competitions and awards, including the annual National Association of Students of Architecture (NASA) in India, and the biennial RIBA Annie Spink Award for Excellence in Architectural Education.
- RIBA Education Committee (Member 2005-2009).
- RIBA Architects for Change Committee (Adviser 2008-present, Chair 2003-2008, Executive Committee Member 2002-03).
- Architects Registration Board (Registered Member).
- Royal Institute of British Architects (Chartered Member).
- Society of Black Architects (Trustee 2004-present, Communications Director 2000-02, Executive Council Member 1995-2000).
- BA Architecture (RIBA Part 1) – Contemporary Issues in Architecture and Urbanism (Cultural Context): Seminar Group Leader
- M.Arch (RIBA Part 2) – ‘Critical Practice’ (Professional Studies): Module Leader
- MA Arch – Joint Course Leader and Cultural Identity & Globalisation Pathway Leader (including module leadership of ‘Theories of Identity’, and ‘Ethnographic Ways of Knowing: Creative and Critical Explorations of Site’).
- PG Dip in Professional Practice in Architecture – Module Leader of ’Architectural Practice’
- PhD Programme: PhD Supervisor
I have been Course Leader for MArch (ARB/RIBA Part 2) course, and the design-led MA Architecture, leading the interdisciplinary Cultural Identity & Globalisation ‘Research Lab 1’ (RL1). RL1 explores questions of cultural identity and their relationship to the intense cultural changes, ethical dilemmas, risks, and creative opportunities brought about by globalisation. RL1 seeks to bring research and practice together, and through collaborative partnerships (including with other schools of architecture, architects, artists, NGOs, United Nations Development Programme, and United Nations Habitat) analyses and develops design proposals for urban environments in the UK and overseas, whether for geopolitical, complex cultural, or globally networked sites.
I am also part of the team which delivers the Professional Studies syllabus in the MA Architecture and the PG Diploma in Professional Practice in Architecture. My involvement in these areas is generated by an interest in the cultural dimension of architectural practice. It does this, in part, by drawing upon the concept of ‘critical practice’ (which in-turn draws upon ‘critical theory’, the philosophy and analytical tactics of the Frankfurt School) to inform its pedagogic strategy. Through understanding the values, assumptions, power relations and politics evident in architectural practice, students are encouraged to understand the links between themselves, the broader frameworks that regulate architects, and the socio-cultural settings within which these frameworks are negotiated.
My consultancy activities and involvement in research to date for clients such as Royal Holloway (University of London), the UK Government Department for Innovation, Universities & Skills, the RIBA, CABE, Centre for Education in the Built Environment (CEBE), the Centre of Excellence at the University of Westminster, and the Equality & Human Rights Commission, relate to the development of architectural education and practice with a focus on diversity, cultural context, and design studio culture. I am currently engaged in a long-term project to evolve a body of scholarship which in-part reflects on my politically motivated projects. This speculative venture is being conducted to test the currency of my interests and to resituate some of my external activity within the Academy for closer scrutiny and deeper theorisation. I am also evolving my own art practice, with the aim of exploring the research potential and relationship between autoethnography and architecture.
I am an experienced PhD Supervisor at the University of Westminster, and projects include:
Cultural Trauma and the Home Environment: A Case Study of Saudi Arabia / Researcher: May Aljamea
A Cross-cultural Study of Architectural Production in Korea and the West / Researcher: JunHa Jang
The Implications of Culture on Architectural Form in London’s Immigrant Communities / Researcher: Abeer Al-Saud
Searching for Spaces of Possibilities and Spaces of Imagination within the Palestinian / Israeli Conflict / Researcher: Yara Sharif (PhD by Design – Commendation, RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis)
Architecture and Urban Space of Governmental and Civic Domains: Colonial encounter in district towns in Bengal, British India / Researcher: Tania Sengupta (Shortlisted, RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis)