Research to investigate Europe’s evolving borders


Where are the edges of Europe, how are they defined, and who can be included within them?

Dr Nishat Awan, a lecturer in the School of Architecture, will travel around the edges of the Black Sea in Europe to see how the continent’s borders are drawn.

Dr Awan will map Europe not from the perspectives of those in power, but from the perspectives of those at the margins such as traders and migrants. Using these narratives and innovative visual methods she will produce a dynamic digital map as part of the ‘Topological Atlas of European Belonging’ to illustrate the region’s static and overlapping borders.

Dr Awan said: “In contrast to the traditional Western understanding of cartography as the representation of an already existing world, I view maps as world-making entities that are traditionally made by those in power.”

The Black Sea, which lies on the edge of South-Eastern Europe, encompasses countries at various stages of European Union integration. The atlas will develop a representation of this complex region, and its accompanying tensions and conflicts, by highlighting cultural, social and localised economic relations that challenge the traditional concept of the border.

Dr Awan said: “I will be talking to people for whom mobility across these spaces is crucial such as traders, but also migrants – those who are passing through and those who ended up there.”

Migration is an increasingly important and polarising topic in Europe that often leads to migrant rights being side lined as politicians attempt to appease perceived voter anxieties. Through researching migrant narratives, this project will seek to uncover contemporary narratives of European belonging that challenge prevalent conceptions of Europe and European citizenship.

During her trip around the Black Sea, Dr Awan will collect visual material including photographs, videos and objects that will be displayed in a temporary exhibition in the towns and cities she travels through. Following the conclusion of the project, a final exhibition will display objects gathered during the journey.

Earlier this year, Dr Awan received a prestigious Early Career Fellowship from the Independent Social Research Foundation in support of the project.

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Housing co-op aims to provide a quality alternative in student housin


In a bid to put more power into the hands of students, the new Sheffield Student Housing Cooperative (SSHC) will provide the opportunity for housemates to collectively manage their property while reducing associated rental costs.

University of Sheffield graduates, Rosie Evered, James Risner and Roy Clutterbuck, are founders of the SSHC which is the first of its kind in Sheffield. This month, five students are due to move into a property with cheaper rent, no letting fees and no landlords.

Housemates will pay £69 a week and will also be responsible for managing the property. The housemates act as landlord and tenant so set rent, manage finances, make democratic decisions including how it is furnished and decorated. SSHC ultimately control the property but when residents move in they become a member, giving them more power to control how they live.

What started as a Rosie’s MArch in Architecture dissertation project has taken three years to become reality. Rosie explains:

“We were interested in thinking about approaches to housing tenure, considering that rental and private ownership aren’t necessarily the only options. The idea came from a feeling that a lot of housing stock for students was poorly maintained, and potentially over priced for its level of quality. A not for profit alternative solution could help improve the quality and environment of the student areas, whilst giving students more control over their accommodation. My dissertation researched the feasibility of the idea, for example; if it would work financially in Sheffield, where similar ideas had been set up and if people would be interested in living there.

We hope to prove that this is a viable alternative to mainstream tenure, this one is just the beginning, and we hope to see a lot more not for profit housing solutions available in the future.

Students are a very transient group, moving on year to year, this is typically difficult to deal with in a housing co-operative. Our model tries to deal with this by including management strategies, which will maintain the co-ops longevity.”

The organisation is not for profit so any income goes into paying the mortgage and keeping up with general maintenance. The trio of founders have spent the last year handing over the cooperative to housemates who will move in at the start of term. Rent will be in line with that of private landlords but housemates will avoid additional fees. The mortgage is held with The Phone Coop who purchased the property and lease to SSHC. Once it has its own financial record SSHC aim to buy the property.

International award for lighting research

Professor Steve Fotios has received the Waldram Gold Pin: Distinguished Services Award for Outstanding Contribution in Applied Engineering. The award is from the Commission Internationale de l’Éclairage (CIE), the international organisation devoted to advancing knowledge and providing standardisation to improve the lighted environment.

Steve Fotios is Professor of Lighting and Visual Perception in the School of Architecture where he leads research of lighting and its impact on people, their ability to see and how they feel. Two key themes of the Lighting Research Group are lighting for pedestrians and bias in research procedures.

He is lead investigator for two £1M EPSRC funding awards on lighting for pedestrians. The MERLIN project (Mesopically Enhanced Road Lighting: Improving Night-vision) concluded last year and Professor Fotios has recently secured funding for MERLIN-2.

The aim of MERLIN is to gather empirical evidence of the lighting conditions that enable pedestrians to walk safely, and to feel safe, so that a cost-benefit analysis of road lighting can be properly informed. The project has led to new guidance on the colour of road lighting and MERLIN-2 will involve working with UK, US and international bodies to specify how much light is needed. It could have a significant environmental impact by identifying unnecessary energy consumption by street lights.

Professor Fotios’s prestigious award is given only once every four years and is a rare distinction. The award was made in part for his work on two recent CIE publications:

  • CIE report 212:2014. Guidance Towards Best Practice In Psychophysical Procedures Used When Measuring Relative Spatial Brightness. Commission Internationale De L’Éclairage, Vienna, 2014. ISBN 978-3-902842-51-0.
  • CIE report 206:2014. The Effect of Spectral Power Distribution on Lighting For Urban And Pedestrian Areas. Commission Internationale De L’Éclairage, Vienna, 2014. ISBN 978-3-902842-33-6.

Professor Fotios founded the annual LumeNet PhD research workshop to promote discussion of methodology at an early stage in a PhD students’ work. With strong support from VELUX these workshops hav taken place every year since 2011 (Lausanne, Sheffield, Copenhagen, Berlin) with the 2015 daylight-focussed academic forum taking place in London in September and LumeNet 2016 taking place in Ghent, April 2016.

Find out more


CIE2015 Conference

Lighting Research Group


Sustainable Growth

LightingWhite_orange These images show streets in the Walkley area of Sheffield where, as an outcome of Professor Fotios’ research, they are changing from orange (sodium) to white light.

Art Riot: Leeds inspired grant success for MArch student

Sophie Ellis, Y5 March student, has been awarded a grant from the Leeds City Council for her Art Riot project. Sophie has been working on a paid internship over the summer with Group Ginger Architects where she has been working on the project.

Sophie explains “During my internship with Group Ginger over the summer I have been working on the initiation of an “Art Riot” on the South bank of Leeds. This involves a series of art appropriations that enliven and establish a new link into the city, as part of a cultural greening strategy.

The project has now been awarded a grant from the Leeds City Council; Leeds Inspired. In early September, I will be meeting with members of the architectural collective, Raumlabor in Berlin to gain further knowledge in the design and implementation of temporary use in urban areas. This body of work provides the research for my MArch dissertation on the role of temporary use in post-industrial cities.”

Sophie is working alongside Group Ginger with Leeds Sustainable Development Group, The Tetley and Concourse to finalise the design of three installations to initiate an Art Riot and establish an area of immediate cultural intervention within the Southbank of Leeds. The artworks should be in place by year end 2015.


Winning plans for Whitby Offshore Energy HQ Revealed

Group Ginger, a Leeds-based practice founded by SSoA University Teacher Simon Baker, have been appointed by Dalby Offshore to design Yorkshire’s premier renewable energy centre.

Following a competitive design process the project will be built on Endeavour Wharf, in the centre of Whitby. The new building will establish Dalby’s Headquarters and act as a combined centre for Operations and Maintenance, Marine Control, Training and a Public Exhibition Centre.

This is a significant development and probably the largest undertaking in the centre of Whitby in recent times. The re-development of this section of the harbour, in support of offshore wind, brings with it the prospect of year round economic activity which will benefit the town and the wider area.

The site is on the edge of the historic core town and is part of the working harbour environment. The design needed to compliment the townscape and the conservation area to reinforce the waterfront. Group Ginger has followed the historical precedent to articulate the building form and make it appropriate to the context of Whitby.

Group Ginger engaged the local interested community with the design proposals and the development. Early consultation informed the competition entry and responded to key feedback, to create a centre piece for Whitby and a design that followed wharf traditions to deliver a building that wasn’t ‘dull’

The design is orientated towards the key harbour frontage where materials and services will be loaded on and off the support vessels. This creates an active and varied massing fronting the harbour and reflects the complexity and variation on the opposite bank. The proposals articulate the massing to reflect the different internal programmes but are carefully orchestrated to enable large single floor plates internally that can be space planned to allow for flexible arrangements and inter-department working.

Group Ginger’s aim is to change the perception of an area’s potential by responding to the needs and wellbeing of future occupants and to establish new community relevance. They approach projects by considering who will be living, working and experiencing the spaces and how these activities compliment the local environment.

On shore facilities building for offshore wind farms

On shore facilities building for offshore wind farms