Architecture, Culture and Tectonics Research Group
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Currently within the Architecture, Culture and Tecontics Research Group (ACT) there are 12 students. All our students are skilled in multiple research areas such as:

  • contemporary architecture
  • innovative methodologies
  • cultural values
  • culture and history
  • architectural design process

Faisal Alosaimi

PhD title: Telling the Story of Jewish Culture and History through the Fabric of the Jewish Museum: two case studies [the History of Polish Jews (Warszawa, Poland) and the Jewish Museum in Berlin (Berlin, Germany)]

Supervisors: Prof Jonathan Hale, Dr Laura Hanks and Dr Qi Wang

Research area: Culture

Research summary

The research focuses on (first) exploring the relationship between Jewish culture and history and the design of Jewish museums by studying the use of Jewish culture and history as an inspiration to design meaningful places, and (second) investigating how the visitor interprets these places.

Faisal Alosaimi - PhD research image Jewish culture


Maha Alnunan

PhD title: Museums as a gents of identity-making in the Gulf region

Supervisors: Dr Laura Hanks and Prof Jonathan Hale

This research focuses on how the architecture of museums and their emphasis are going to generate narratives to promote national identity by exploring how design features as reflected in the collections are developed to assert distinct national identities. 
Rui Chen

Rui Chen

PhD title: how to enhance the informal learning function through the post-structuralists approach at the summer palace - taking Xiequ garden and south lake island as exampleH

Supervisors: Dr Qi Wang and Dr Laura Hanks

Research summary
In recent decades, extensive studies have been carried out on museum learning from multiple perspectives, such as learning theories, visitor engagement evaluation, interpretation infrastructure and target audiences. However, previous studies have generally focused on museums which exhibit collections. Little research has been done on space-focus heritage site such as open air museum, palace complex. In order to fill this gap, My dissertation describes research investigating informal learning of visitors in an UNESCO world heritage site through a way of post-structuralism.
Jan Flor

Jan-Frederik Flor

PhD: Environmental design of membrane structures

Supervisors: Dr Yupeng WuDr Paolo Beccarelli and Prof John Chilton

Research summary

The research project aims to investigate new developments in the environmental design of spaces enclosed by multilayer ETFE envelopes. Simulation tools and experimental tests are used to evaluate the thermo-optical performance of novel active shading mechanisms which have the potential to enhance climate control functions of building skins.

Jan Flor research image

Bryce William Gilroy-Scott

Bryce William Gilroy-Scott

PhD title: Developing a method to apply the Ecological Footprint methodology to building construction and operation

Supervisors: Prof John Chilton and Dr Guillermo Guzman Dumont

Research summary
The value of the Ecological Footprint above the current focus on Carbon Footprinting, is that it is a more holistic assessment of sustainability and can readily be communicated to the general public.

The Research compares several building projects that have significant data records from the construction process. The type of data that have been collected are: the delivery notices; water consumption on site; electrical consumption; waste receipts; and then energy consumption during building operation.

I am interested in assessing the underlying data within an Ecological Footprint framework. While I recognise that the LCA and similar methods are more acurrate, the use of the Ecological Footprint, if reasonably accurate, is very useful for public education, which is equally as important a driver for change.
Sifan Guo

Sifan Guo

PhD: Research on How to Encourage Challenge Group into Museums by Exploring Innovative Exhibition Narrative Design

Supervisors: Dr Qi Wang and Dr Laura Hanks

Research summary

In today's multicultural inclusive social background, the word more  may not only refer to the number of changes, it can be understood as diversity  or multi-levels may be more appropriate here. Because of culture, religion, and even social class, visiting museums is still a big challenge for many people. This research  will focus on studying the challenge visitors group, though some cases to analyze the exhibition narrative design that has been used in the museums and to explore the innovation architecture langue to encourage more challenge visitors to come into museums.


Malathe Hamid

PhD title: Shaping identities: Exploring the role of the emerging patterns of Khartoum's contemporary architecture (90s to present)

Supervisors: Dr Laura Hanks and Dr Qi Wang

Research area: Design

Research summary

This research tries to feed into the wider research of place identity, by exploring the role of the emerging architectural patterns in shaping architectural identities. Whether identities could be defined from a unified set of architectural patterns? And how a newly emerging city like Khartoum can ever define its contemporary architectural identity?



Malathe Hamid research image


Nick Haynes

Nick Haynes

PhD title: Cultural Institutions: Typological and Urban Performances

Supervisors:  Dr. Katharina Borsi and  Graeme Barker 

Research Summary
Cultural building typologies have become a fundamental catalytic force governing the urban fabric, responsible for instigating widespread regeneration in cities, and disciplining the surrounding built environment. Whilst they exist as a platform for the individual to express their views and experiences to the wider public, they can also serve as a vessel that preserves anthropological activities through history. These functions suggest the typology has a fundamental connection with society and a civic weight above most other building types. An exploration of the nature of this regenerative effect lies at the heart of this thesis: through an investigation of the typological and urban performances, this doctorate sets out to establish how these institutions have changed the city, and at which points through history. Their civic agency will be explored to identify the disciplinary autonomy of architecture, its agency in urban transformation and its effects on the subject.

Jiayi Jin

Research title: Narratives of Augmented Space: Innovative narrations for digital interactive exhibitions

Supervisors: Dr Qi Wang and Dr Laura Hanks

Research area: Culture and New Media

Research Summary

This research focuses on the concept of ‘Augmented Space’ and its design sensitivities for scientific exhibitions. It first examines the fundamental characteristics and potential manifestations of augmented reality (AR), investigates those unique AR scenarios and experiences to articulate the notion of augmented space. Then the study explores augmented space in a broader sociological, physical and personal contexts, which flows between digital and physical layers of a scientific exhibition. All the reflections on those interaction episodes led to the definition of a series of corresponding “design sensitivities” for actual design practice. Through the project-based research in museum, the study finally verified whether the introduction of those perspectives into the design process is effective in informing the augmentation of the physical environment through ubiquitous AR technologies.

Jjiayi Jin research image


Hasan Basri Kartal 2

Hasan Basri Kartal 

PhD title: Architecture and Neuropsychology:  Investigating Cross- and Supra-Modal Neural Activity during Bodily Interactions with Architectural Environments 

Supervisors: Prof Jonathan Hale and Dr Martin Schuermann

Research Summary 

Thanks to the rise of Post-Cognitivism in Philosophy of Mind after 1980s, the influential impact of body and environment on human cognitive processes has begun to be examined by both philosophers and neuroscientists. As a result of these researches, examining the neural dimensions of interacting with architectural environments has - since the beginning of the 21st century – been of growing interest among architects and neuropsychologists. This PhD study aims to investigate cross-modal neural activity in the brain during bodily interactions with architectural environments and their supra-modal neural effects on cognitive processes, especially on the experience of empathy and meaning. Experimental scenarios involve testing user responses to tactile architectural elements such as doors, windows and built-in furniture.

Hasan Basri Kartal research


Asiye Kartal

Asiye Nisa Kartal

PhD title: Body, experience, sense, and place: A case study in Istiklal Street, Istanbul with the method of ‘Sensewalking’ through ‘Sensory mappings’

Supervisors: Prof Didem Ekici, Prof Jonathan Hale and Prof Amy Tang

Research Summary 

When we think about the matters of place, people and architecture as an integral part of an urban assemblage, we find the mutual relationship between place and bodily experiences as the main stage of this event. An attempt to recognize the undiscovered bounds of Istiklal Street in Istanbul between its sensual experiences and physical setting could be taken as the first inspiration point for my research study. To cope with understanding, interpreting and criticizing the link in-between the bodily experience and place, this research mainly tries to discuss the issues of body, sense, experience and place with the method of ‘Sensewalking’ through ‘sensory mappings’ in the case of Istiklal Street in Istanbul. 

Asiye Kartal title


Salah Krimly

PhD title: Jeddah residential building between the influence of new building technologies and its effect on the sociable life

Supervisors: Prof Jonathan Hale and Dr John Morgan

Research summary

New technologies are important to improve the quality of living, especially technology that is made to provide the users with their needs. On the other hand, although technology is a part of the culture, there is a cultural resistance to depending on new technology because, to a high extent, it might lead to change in the culture. For example, using the technology in Jeddah residential buildings led them to losing their cultural identity and social activities. As a result, there is a group of citizens who are calling to reduce the dependency on technology and to build more houses that reflect the culture of Jeddah city and to enhance the house user’s sociable activates.

Another group of Jeddah citizens are applying for changes in their houses to reflect their culture, experience and understanding of the special organization. On the other hand, another group of Jeddah citizens are arguing that technology cannot be discarded because it provides new effective building solutions, energy efficiency solutions. Also, it can provide artificial traditional elements. Therefore, this research will discuss, whether reflecting the culture in the space can be done by redesigning a similar space experience for the house user that the traditional houses had? To what extent can technology help? Or can just depending on technology to provide artificial architectural elements in Jeddah houses in different spaces?

Three different methods will be used to collect the data required for this research. The first method is analysing historic and contemporary houses in Jeddah. The second method is interviewing some stakeholders that can influence the design of Jeddah houses. Finally, a questionnaire will be conducted, targeting the house users in Jeddah city.

concepticion rojas rivera

Concepcion Rojas Rivera

PhD title: Citizen's Cultural values influence on particpation in the relocation process of informal settlements

Supervisors: Dr Katharina Borsi and Dr Lucelia Rodrigues

Research area: Culture

Research summary

Innovative qualitative and quantitative methodology to assess the importance of education, cultural and social values of informal settlements dwellers into the urban design planning decisions regarding relocation proposals. Integrating those by developing an interactive and educational methodology to enhance the engagement of dwellers into city planning resolutions.

Concepcion Rojas R - ACT RG website



Jiarui Sun

PhD title: A Study Towards the Possibility of Uncovering the Scientific and Social Value of Private Paleontological Collection by the Concept of Adaptable Museum in China

Supervisors: Dr. Laura Hanks

Research Summary
In China, there is a long geologic history and rich in paleontological fossil resources. At present, paleontological fossils are kept well in many professional paleontological research institutions. Except for those official institutions, there are large quantities of private fossil collectors, which may threaten the protection of the paleontological heritage. The value of the private paleontological collection is unknown and difficult to be explored. In these cases, developing adaptable museums as an architectural concept may be one way to solve the problems. Movable, temporary and changeable are the most typical features of adaptable museums. It is much more flexible and easier to collect the private collections, support the research opportunities for experts and spread the exhibition for public temporary. 

Mina Tahsiri

PhD title: Architecture by Tools [The Syntax of Drawing and the Creativity of Thought]

Supervisors: Prof Jonathan Hale and Dr Chantelle Niblock

Research area: Design

Research summary

This research explores the role of design tools on the cognitive processes of decision making during an architectural design process. It employs an understanding of Knowledge-based systems and the theory of Distributed Cognition in revisiting the meaning of design, drawing and methodological approaches to studying the role of design tools in creative cognition.

M.Tahsiri research image

Jing Yang

Jing Yang

PhD title: Weak Tectonics: the Ambiguous Role of Materiality in the Work of Contemporary Japanese Architects SANAA

Supervisors: Prof Jonathan Hale, Prof Michael Stacey and Toby Blackman

Research summary

Through a detailed case-study of the work of Japanese architects SANAA, this research investigates the meaning of the term “weak” in the context of architecture, and the role that materiality plays in realising such weakness, focusing primarily on three key material features that have been identified in their work: transparency, thinness, and whiteness. The study investigates materiality from a spatial and social perspective, focusing on the perception and occupation of people in the building. It expands the standard definition of tectonics into a spatial tectonics, which shows a characteristic of ambiguity in SANAA’s case and might ultimately be a reflection of the ambiguity and paradoxes of contemporary society.

J. Yang research image

Zheng Chunhui

Chunhui Zheng

PhD title: How to deliver efficient humanity development along the Silk Road by improving exhibitions narrative in museums

Supervisors:  Dr Qi Wang

Research summary
Nowadays, the museum has developed into a social device that not only focus on research and collection, but also emphasis on visitor interactive experience, which related to museum narrative. The museum provides an opportunity of informal learning for public who have different cultural background. This issue has impact on the way of exhibition narrative directly. This research would focus on the narrative system of history museum exhibition, making an evaluation of museum’s social influence when it comes to multiculturalism.

Architecture, Culture and Tectonics

The University of Nottingham
Faculty of Engineering
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 82 32502