Architecture, Culture and Tectonics Research Group

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
Xijing Chen

Xijing Chen

PhD title: Enactive Visitor Engagement in an Industrial Heritage Museum

Supervisors: Prof Jonathan Hale and Dr Laura Hanks

Research summary
This PhD study aims to explore the meaning of ‘activated’ within an industrial museum. The Museum of Making supports active engagement in learning industrial history, because this museum fills the gap between two traditional learning programmes, academic and apprenticeship learning; it also can be seen as a third learning space. Due to cultural changes in the post-industrial era, most industrial buildings are converted into social spaces to engage visitors, and museum experience can be interpreted and exemplified in two ways. Firstly, it could be seen as a space containing objects, embodied experiences follow linear time with different historical periods becoming an encounter. Secondly, the building itself could be seen as an object, an integrated space to make collections accessible instead of simply curating and displaying them. 
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.



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.


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. 
Diandra Pandu Saginatari

Diandra Pandu Saginatari

PhD title: In search of Architectural Porosity: Exploration of urban heritage wall as a historical, ecological and social assemblage

Supervisors: Jonathan Hale and Tim Collett

Research Summary
This PhD study aims to propose a new definition of architectural porosity – one that could unfold architectural phenomena as an assemblage of the built, the context and the users at a range of different scales, from material to spatial scales. 
The architectural porosity proposed in this study attempts to see how porosity operates in the material and spatial scales and how their assemblage in socio-cultural and environmental contexts constructs architectural phenomena. This exploration will look at walls in urban heritage areas that arguably provide an intimate site to relate the material and spatial scales. The heritage status of the wall provides complexity in both material and spatial practice with socio-cultural and environmental dynamics. In particular, this exploration will look at the collected wall data of Semarang Old Town in Indonesia and attempt to capture porosity through drawings traces of events on and around the walls and draw the existing historical, ecological and social assemblage of the wall. 
Architectural porosity views porosity as the ability to absorb and contain, as opposed to transmitting (for example, to allow moisture to pass through) - it is the ability of the built environment to offer a perceivable space that contains events in a period of time. This perceivable space is viewed as an assemblage of material and spatial conditions in both socio-cultural and environmental contexts that will build up thickness beyond material thickness upon the built environment as a form of spatial production.

Sara Saliba

Sara Saliba

PhD title: Transitional Shelter for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

Supervisors: Dr Paolo Beccarelli and Dr Katharina Borsi

Research Summary

My PhD study, titled “Transitional Shelter for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon”, merges the themes of displacement, architecture, and sustainability. Nowadays, around 1% of the world’s total population is displaced, particularly due to wars. Since 2014, Syria has been the main country of origin of millions of refugees. These refugees have fled to more than 126 countries, with Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon having welcomed the biggest numbers of Syrian refugees worldwide. Most notably, Lebanon has been hosting the largest number of Syrian refugees per capita in the world.

For refugees, life is tough and filled with challenges. One of the most prominent issues that they struggle with is getting access to safe shelters that would allow them to live their lives in dignity. Indeed, most often than not, shelters provided for the displaced are quickly created, with no considerations for security, safety, or protection. In other words, survival is the only factor that is regarded. Moreover, many refugees are obliged to jump from temporary shelter to temporary shelter before permanently settling down. As these transitional and/or temporary shelters end up being used for months or years at a time, it then becomes imperative that they provide refugees with a sense of safety and dignity.

Therefore, I have chosen to focus my study on designing T-shelters which would enable Syrian refugees to feel safe, secure and at ‘home’. They would be created by using green building materials that are durable, reusable, or recyclable and that are locally sourced to benefit Lebanon. These T-shelters are meant to be easy to assemble, dissemble, and transport, making them suitable options at times of emergency. Their design would also be adapted to reflect the culture of Syrian refugees, thus encouraging and promoting cultural diversity. 

Charlotte Simpson (1)

Charlotte Simpson

PhD title: Visitor Collecting Practices: Photographic Reproduction and the Changing Cultural Value of the Exhibited Museum

Supervisors: Prof Jonathan Hale and Dr Laura Hanks 

Research Summary

Social media has changed how the museum audience responds to and values exhibited material culture.

General observation of images posted to Instagram by museum visitors suggests that, armed with their own smartphones and social media, visitors are equipped to collect, exhibit, and certify museum-things themselves, and this may de-centralise the authoritative voice of the museum. Literature suggests that visitor photography allows the museum visitor to make meaning, and consequently, museum art, artefacts and spaces transform, they become polysemic; they work for the museum, but through exhibition on social media, they also work for and are owned through reproduction, by the visitor. 

This doctorate will use data from social media with grounded theory to develop the idea of ‘instant collecting’. The research aims to understand the motivations behind personal photography, to develop photographic collecting profiles of the digital museum visitor and better understand how museums may best react to changing consumption patterns of their audience.

hatice-sule-ozer (1)

Hatice Sule Ozer

PhD title: The language of house-museums

Supervisors: Prof. Jonathan Hale, Dr. Laura Hanks

Research Summary

Hatice Sule Ozer is a PhD student in the research group of Architecture, Culture, and Tectonics in the Department of Architecture at the University of Nottingham, which she joined in July 2019, under the supervision of Professor Jonathan Hale and Dr Laura Hanks. Previously, she received a Bachelor Degree in Interior Architecture from the University of Selcuk in Turkey (2011-15) and worked for a year as an interior designer of hotel-museums. She also has an MA in Interior Design from the University of Portsmouth (2017-18).

Research Aim: The research focuses on the nature of the house-museums representation as an encounter between the private and public, investigating artist-studio houses involved in the transformation from a semi-private/semi-public home to a public museum. 

Methodology: The research goes on to evaluate the effectiveness of the museum curators' communication strategies in two contrasting case studies of artists' house-museums, one of which was originally a personal and private living and working space, and the other was a semi-public combination of home, studio and gallery. To identify the most effective interpretive approaches adopted by each of the museum design teams (directors, curators, designers etc.) used in each case, a process of mapping, spatial analysis, visitor surveys and theoretical methods is used. 



Architecture, Culture and Tectonics

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

telephone: +44 (0)115 74 86257