Rosie Parnell leads Designing with Children events

In a 3 year project, Transforming Spatial Design – Encounters with Children, Dr Rosie Parnell is focusing specifically upon the processes and dynamics of interactions between architects and children when they design together. Two events were held on 13 January at the Bristol Architecture Centre and 21 January at the University of Sheffield. The aim was to share early project findings, highlight the case study partners’ design approaches and invite questions and discussion from a wide audience of academics, practitioners and those working in architecture participation.

Bristol designing with children event

In Bristol, our case study partners were Marianthi Liapi and Kostis Oungrinis (Transformable Intelligent Environments Laboratory, Technical University of Crete), and Barbara Kaucky (erectarchitecture). They discussed their approaches to engaging children in design processes, within school and other contexts, and provided inspirational examples from their own practices. A discussion followed with key insights emerging: the concepts of creative dialogue and togetherness were the umbrella themes enabling a process-focused exploration of designer-child interactions involving, for example, turn taking and embodied dialogue.

We saw a great turn out for the Sheffield whole day event. Despite heavy snow, case study partners Susanne Hoffman (die Baupiloten) travelled from Berlin and Dan Morrish and Emily Charkin (Building for Families, Wilderness Wood) from Sussex.

Susanne_workshop_08 20150121_152348

Dan Morrish and Emily Charkin presented their interest in exploring the relationship between radical education and self-build, talking about the importance of making their 60-acre woodland and its building spaces accessible to children. A public research interview and dialogue with Dan was followed by child and adult participants joining in Dan’s 1:1 building workshop using found materials.

A rich and contrasting design and engagement approach was presented by Susanne Hofmann in her talk and follow up hands-on session. Participants were able to join her in exploring preferences for spatial atmospheres by creating dreamworld collages. Susanne also went on to give an inspiring evening presentation in the School, introducing her new book Architecture is Participation.

The project is being funded by the Leverhulme Trust

All of the presentations and talks are available to watch, from both events.

Follow on Twitter @designchildren

Stephen Walker to participate in ESALA Research Seminars 2015

SSoA’s Dr Stephen Walker will deliver a talk on ‘The architecture of the travelling street fair: Assembly, apparatus and a guidebook’ at Edinburgh University.

In this seminar he will be presenting work in progress from a research project on the architecture of the travelling street fair. Just about everyone has experience of going to the fair, yet little work has been done on this com­monly experienced event.

Stephen explains “I am interested in how we (as architects) might ex­plore and explain what we (as punters) take for granted in these situations. Behind the scenes, there are many vested interests, influential organisa­tions and powerful families that exert influence over how such fairs take place. There are competing economies at play within the fair, ambiguities regarding who can exercise authority over it, and heterogeneous ways in which its pleasures are consumed.”

The talk will take place on 30 January 2015 as part of the Esala Research Seminars 2015 series.


Winter graduation: Congratulations and welcome to our new Alumni

Last week’s winter graduation ceremony saw our students become alumni, graduates of the University. Our Alumni community is a thriving group connected by their links to the University and SSoA.

Congratulations to the new additions to our Alumni community! If you would like to view some pictures taken at the graduation reception please visit our Flickr account. You can find out about how to keep in touch and engaged with the school by visiting our Alumni pages.

The Alumni office keeps past students informed about what is going on at the University, as well as organising reunions, events, volunteering opportunities and much more. Take a look at their web pages and join the Facebook group – @University of Sheffield Alumni – to be a part of this growing network.


Flora Samuel to offer expertise at RIBA Journal debate: Breaking the Mould

Professor Flora Samuel will be speaking on modern techniques, customisation and craftsmanship during the RIBA Journal debate held at the Surface Design Show in the Business Design Centre, London on 10 February, 6pm.

She shares the stage with a panel of innovative practitioners in what promises to be a lively debate: Breaking the Mould - Are modern techniques bringing the idea of craftsmanship back into modern design? Do bespoke approaches, such as parametricism, signal the end of the modern mass production and identikit solutions? The event will be chaired by Eleanor Young, editor of the RIBA Journal.

Further information about the Surface Design Show.

Global university network lead innovative research on designing with climate change

Staff from the Sheffield School of Architecture will collaborate with a global network of universities and lead an innovative research project focussing on the Transcultural Understanding of Designing with Climate Change. The group has been awarded funding from The Worldwide Universities Network, Research Development Fund 2014.

The unique joint approach to this project provides an excellent opportunity to reflect different environments and cultures. This work is crucial as the practice of designing the built environment is increasingly internationalised.

For instance Cape Town and the Western Cape is a tourist and agricultural hub, dependent on the landscape and weather for economic sustainability. Hong Kong epitomises a hi-tech, densifying urban environment that is confronting many of the problems that will be faced by similar regions in China and South America over the coming decades. Sheffield is a test-bed for the opportunities that are present in a post-industrial society to reduce the environmental impact of living and working, across broad demographic sections of the population.

Analysis undertaken by the network will raise important questions about what is valued and what should be prioritised in different environmental, social, cultural and economic situations.

Dr Chengzhi Peng, Investigator on the project and course leader of the School’s MSc in Digital Design and Interactive Built Environments programme, said “I am truly delighted that our application for this highly competitive funding scheme has been successful. With this grant, the Sheffield School of Architecture is in a privileged position to lead this new international research network.”

Investigators: Dr Chengzhi Peng & Dr Ranald Lawrence (Sheffield School of Architecture), Kevin Fellingham (University of Cape Town), Prof Edward Ng (Chinese University of Hong Kong), Prof Liu Yang (Xi’an University of Architecture and Technology), and Dr Kun Li (Wuhan University). Dr Ian Cooper of Eclipse Research Consultants Cambridge will lead an advisory group for the network.


Nadia Bertolino to speak at international conference held in Mumbai

Dr Nadia Bertolino has been invited as a speaker at the International Conference “TRANSITIONAL RURALITY: Lessons from the Indian Hinterland’. The event is organised by the Indian Education Society’s College of Architecture and will take place in Mumbai on 16-17 January 2015. It involves Architectural practitioners, educationists, entrepreneurs and stake holders. The conference aims to investigate the dynamic nature of rurality and its implications in Eastern culture, to look into the inner and outer processes and their manifestations in the changing identity of the contemporary built environment.

Nadia’s presentation relates to architectural regeneration and local community identity in rural China for the improvement of the built environment in suburban areas. She investigates the role that architecture, as social practice, has to play in high-quality landscape regeneration and the parameters to assess the enhancement of communities’ values.

Design strategy effectiveness can be guaranteed by the cooperation and involvement of local communities; the improvement of “informal creativity”; the development of underpinning knowledge and theories about social response to change; collective actions, building up a picture of rural needs, concerns, opportunities and drivers.

Nadia is a lecturer at SSoA and leads the School’s MA in Architectural Design programme.

Full conference programme

Fig 1

People from LiPing (Sichuan) village raising up a steel structure. Photo Hsieh Ying-Chun, Rural Architecture Studio and Atelier 3, 2012

Fig 2
Taiping Bridge Renovation, Guizhou. Project by The University of Hong Kong, 2010.


SSoA Alumni becomes Regional Director for Jefferson Sheard’s Manchester Office

Clare Ailward studied her RIBA Part 1 and 2 at SSoA and Jefferson Sheard Architects have promoted her to manage the practice’s new Manchester office.

Clare began working for the practice in 1999 when she was still a student. In 2000 Jefferson Sheard set up a new office in Manchester for the Ground Transport Interchange at Manchester Airport. During this time Clare became an integral part of the team and was subsequently made Project Director on the award-winning Barnsley Transport Interchange, and later promoted to Jefferson Sheard’s Director of Design.

Clare is behind some of Jefferson Sheard’s most notable buildings including the Manchester Shudehill Interchange (detailed design) and South Cheshire College – the design of which has been heralded by a CABE representative as: “Creating the leading FE institution in the United Kingdom”.

More recently Clare has been leading on projects at Hymers College in Hull – the Learning Resource Centre and the Music Building – and has also designed the new transport interchange at Stourbridge. Two projects at Leeds Trinity University are also benefitting from Clare’s design expertise.JS_Clare Ailward

Managing Director of Jefferson Sheard, Tom Rhys Jones, commented:

“Everyone at Jefferson Sheard knows that Clare is an architect of great vision and skill and we are all proud to have her as one of our colleagues. Clare is absolutely the right person to be leading the team at Manchester and will be vital in helping us to further establish our new office in the city. These are exciting times for Jefferson Sheard.”

The practice moved into their new office at 53 King Street in October. Jefferson Sheard also works out of three other offices in Sheffield, London and Peterborough.

SSoA staff awarded Santander Research Mobility Awards

Francesco Aletta and Beatrice De Carli have been successful in applications for the Santander Mobility Awards. The awards, up to the value of £1,200, are for early career researchers and research students to encourage research collaborations with institutions in the Santander Universities Network.

Francesco is part of the Acoustics Research Group at SSoA. Through his application, he aims to follow up research connected to a night intervention soundscape project in the West Street Tunnel, Brighton. The project was organised by Brighton & Hove City Council, the Noise Abatement Society and Dr Harry Witchel and the results showed that the presence of reproduced music in the tunnel positively affected people’s behaviour.

In view of the encouraging results the experiments have provided, the Acoustics Group wants to join this ongoing project to provide an acoustic background for the study. They are keen to perform further acoustic analysis in the tunnel to yield more robust and detailed conclusions about the beneficial effect that soundscape management can have.

Beatrice leads the MA in Urban Design programme, in which outcomes from her research project feed into the teaching. The project has emerged out of an on-going teaching and research collaboration between SSoA, the Centro de Engenharia, Modelagem e Ciências Sociais Aplicadas at the Federal University of ABC (UFABC) and The Bartlett Development Planning Unit at UCL. This collaboration revolves around the critical examination of the processes of urban renewal in decaying inner-city areas in the global South, with a focus of attention on the case of São Paulo.

The research project seeks to give continuity to previous fieldwork that the three institutions conducted together with students in August 2014. The grant will allow Beatrice to conduct further research in São Paulo thus building on the outcomes of the research in 2014, while simultaneously deepening and consolidating the findings of that teaching/research experience.


Ocupação Marconi, the nursery. Photography by Gabriel Boieras


August 2013: Café da Manhã na Rua Marconi (Breakfast in Marconi Street) – an event that appropriated the public space of the street as a meeting place for community and encounters between strangers.