Talk and seminar with Visiting Professor Christian Derix

On Monday March 31 Christian Derix, director of the Computational Design Research group [CDR] at Aedas architects, will be make his second visit to SSoA as visiting professor. This event is organized by the SSoA Digital Design + Performance research group.

During his visit Christian Derix will give a public lecture at 5:30pm Monday March 31 in room 16.03 titled ‘Meta-Spaces: implicit organizations of architectural environments’. He will also participate in a Digital Design + Performance group doctoral seminar 10am-12pm on Tuesday April 01 in room 16.02 with presentations by SSoA doctoral candidates Sukaina Almousa and Daniel Kerr.


Christian Derix is director of the Computational Design Research group [CDR] at Aedas architects, which he founded in 2004 in London, UK. CDR develops computational simulations for generative and analytical design processes with an emphasis on user-centric spatial configuration.

Derix studied architecture and computation in Italy and the UK and has researched and taught the subject at various European universities since 2001, including University College London (UCL), Milan Polytechnic, Technical University Vienna, guest professor at Technical University Munich and currently associate professor at IE University Madrid. He set up the Centre for Evolutionary Computing in Architecture (CECA) with Paul Coates at the University of East London in 2002.

The work of CDR has recently won award commendations for their Spatial Simulation framework at awards such as the 2010 Presidents Medal for Research in Practice of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the 2011 Italian Compasso d’Oro for algorithmic design and user participation in industrial design for the VITA Shelving System or the Centre for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s (CTBUH) 2012 Innovation award for the computer-activated responsive façade of the Al Bahar towers.

AGENCY talk series

SSoA’s ‘AGENCY’ research centre are hosting a series of talks and presentations by guest speakers.

21 March 2014, 12.00h [Arts Tower, LT06] – Dr Deljana Iossafova, University of Manchester / Manchester Architecture Research Center Notions of scarcity

27 March 2014, 11.00h [Arts Tower, floor 9] – Valeria Federighi, Politechnic of Turin ‘ Theoretical explorations on the possibility of an architecture of/in informality

01 April 2014, 16.00h [room tbc]- Prof Guy Julier, University of Brighton Principal Research Fellow in Contemporary Design at the Victoria & Albert Museum Social Design

03 April 2014 – 18.00h [Arts Tower, Well] – Markus Bader, Raumlabor, Berlin & Universität Kassel {in conjunction with SUAS & Building Local Resilience Platform} The making of agency

Bath houses & sustainability

Public Baths in North African Heritage Cities: Catalysts for Urban Sustainability’, a lecture by Dr. Magda Sibley

Wednesday 19. March at 4pm in Room 16.03, the Arts Tower.

Dr Sibley Poster copy

The hammām is a distinctive building type in North African and Middle Eastern historic cities that has evolved from the small Roman Baths, or Balnéa tradition. Although the transition from a Roman and Byzantine bathing tradition to an Islamic bathing institution is not clear, the role of the hammām in facilitating major ablutions (the washing of the whole body) necessary before the act of praying has resulted in the proliferation of this building type in the fabric of cities of the Islamic world, and within walking distance of small and large mosques. In addition to providing a venue for health and cleanliness for Muslims, at a time when private baths were rare, hammāms also provided a space for gathering and socializing, particularly for women. Although the tradition of going to the hammām is disappearing in Cairo, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine where a few historic hammāms are continuing to operate, the institution remains well anchored in the lifestyle of the population of the Maghreb countries as hammām facilities are still being built in new residential areas.

The first part of the lecture presents the results of a survey of all the functioning historic hammāms of the North African Medinas of Cairo, Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers, Fez and Marrakech, conducted by Dr.Magda Sibley between 2007 and 2010 as part of her large grant AHRC funded project.

The second part of the lecture highlights the many lessons of urban sustainability embedded in this centuries old institution and presents the development of an innovative hybrid solar lighting system for retrofitting heritage hammam buildings. The system was developed between August 2012 and March 2013 (as part of a research project funded by Manchester University) and combines the vernacular hammam day-lighting element with a solar powered night-lighting system.

Dr Magda Sibley is an Architect and a Senior lecturer in Architecture at the University of Manchester. Her research has focused in the last ten years on the public baths or ‘Hammams’ in the Heritage cities of North Africa and the Middle East. She has been awarded various research grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK to document the surviving and still functioning Islamic public baths in the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Cairo, Tripoli, Algiers, Tunis, Marrakech and Fez. Dr Sibley’s research on hammams has gained an international dimension as a key UK partner in two EU funded projects, HAMMAM and Hammamed, working with key international stakeholders on raising awareness about public baths as a tangible and intangible heritage worth safeguarding into the 21st Century. Dr Sibley has been advising on the rehabilitation of Hammam Ammouneh in Damascus and Seffarine in Fez and has recently developed an innovative solution for integrating affordable solar energy technology with the vernacular systems of heating and lighting. Her solutions are currently being implemented in the retrofitting of Hammam Seffarine.

Dr Sibley has widely published on historic Hammams and co-edited a “Hammam Rehabilitation Reader” in 2012 as part of her involvement in the EU funded Euro-Med Heritage project “Hammamed”. She is currently preparing the publication a book on the historic hammams of Cairo and the Maghreb.

SSoA’s new MSc in Digital Design

With great anticipation the Sheffield School of Architecture looks forward to welcoming the first cohort of postgraduate students arriving in September 2014 to undertake the MSc in Digital Design and Interactive Built Environments (DDIBE) programme. Granted a full academic approval by the University of Sheffield in July 2013, this brand new MSc will centre on the “Sheffield Approach” that learning and teaching of digital methods, techniques and skills are contextualised and grounded in an understanding of the wider urban, social and cultural agenda. Students will join a digital design studio and develop a series of designs through critical applications of digital methods, tools and datasets in response to the challenges of interactive built environments informed by other course modules.

MSc in DDIBE now has a website up running which contains detailed information about the programme structure and a link to the University’s online application system.

The programme director Dr Chengzhi Peng wrote “We see interactive built environments as innovative syntheses of digital and physical environments that mediate everyday interactions. Increasingly, designers are challenged to respond to workspaces mediating remote synchronous collaboration, smart homes assisting older residents, learning spaces afford learners with differentiated learning, hospitals promoting healing, intelligent laboratories for advancing fabrication research, green buildings and neighbourhoods adaptive to changing climate and low carbon economy, cultural heritage sites navigated through mobile locative apps, for instance.”

The Sheffield School of Architecture is uniquely positioned to deliver this new MSc programme with its existing in-house resources/expertise and cross-disciplinary connections with several cutting edge research centres at the University of Sheffield, and with centres of research and practice in the UK and abroad. The DDIBE staff team aim to achieve that at the end of this programme graduates will have the theoretical knowledge and design skills needed to develop digital blueprints for future innovative built environments based on multiple interactive scenarios that change over time.

For prospective international students, the University of Sheffield currently offers a wide range of Postgraduate Taught Scholarships.

For prospective Home/EU students, you could take your MSc DDIBE at Sheffield for FREE through the Faculty of Social Science Postgraduate Scholarship Scheme.

First Years on the Moor

The exhibition of the First Year’s Matter Reality projects took place on Friday 28 February on the Moor in Sheffield city centre.


Groups of students have been working for three weeks with a range of different materials to create a series of nine ‘places for conversation’.  The making process has seen the students working not just in the Arts Tower, but in the George Porter Workshop, the Engineering Department and in empty shop units on the Moor.

All material groups put on a good display, and the work proved very popular with members of the public, particularly children on their half-term holiday.

You can find out more about the project at:

RIBA SCHOSA Review of University Research

The RIBA have just published the RIBA SCHOSA Review of University Research 2013, which is available as a free PDF download here.

“We hope the new review will encourage beneficial collaborations between practices and university, and encourage architects to explore how ­research can be of benefit to them.”


The project was led by Professor Flora Samuel at the Sheffield School of Architecture and funded by SCHOSA (Standing Conference of Heads of Schools of Architecture). The review was carried out by Jordan Egglestone and Laura Coucill at SSoA for the RIBA and SCHOSA.

During the research work for this document a similar survey dating from 1982 was discovered. This has also been republished by RIBA as a PDF and is also available as a free download.  A comparison of the two reports, written by Flora Samuel and Anne Dye, has been published by the RIBA Journal and is available here.

Jordan Ecclestone’s role in the project was funded by a SURE grant from the University of Sheffield.

Other RIBA publications on research in architecture can be found here.