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Personal profile

Research interests

Ben's work is situated in the fields of cybernetics, systemic design, and architectural theory, with focuses including design, ethics, place, methodology, technology, and education.

Supervisory Interests

Ben is interested in supporting doctoral research that addresses how design disciplines work within and for complex systemic contexts, especially those that raise challenging questions regarding ethics, place, technology, and/or the status of professional and scientific knowledge. Ben has experience with creative, theoretical, and historical research and has examined doctoral research internationally.

Scholarly biography

Ben studied architecture at the University of Cambridge (MA) and the Bartlett, UCL (DipArch, MArch, PhD). Ben has taught at Brighton since 2007, first as a visiting lecturer (2007-2008) before being appointed to a lectureship (2009-present). Ben has previously taught at the University of Greenwich (2010-2012), Kingston University (2008), Central St. Martins (2010-2011) and London South Bank University (2008-2009) and held a research assistant position at UCL (2006-2007).

Ben is Learning and Teaching Co-Lead in the School of Architecture, Technology, and Engineering (2021-present) and joint Course Leader for MRes Architectural Research (2020-present). Ben teaches research methods across postgraduate courses in architecture and design, and contributes to design studio and architectural humanities in BA(Hons) Architecture. Ben has previously served as Deputy Head of School (Learning and Teaching) for the School of Architecture and Design (March-December 2020), Course Leader for BA(Hons) Architecture (2014-2019), and year coordinator for the second (2011-2016) and third years (2014-2017) of that course. 

Ben completed their PhD by architectural design in 2014, supervised by Neil Spiller and Ranulph Glanville at the Bartlett, UCL, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. This research explored epistemological and ethical questions in relation to architecture through ideas from second order cybernetics and radical constructivism and a distinctive approach to drawing. Following this, Ben was appointed as Mellon Researcher at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal (2014-2016), as part of a collaborative research project. In this work, which was presented at the 2016 Lisbon Architecture Triennale, Ben conducted archival research on Cedric Price and his collaboration with cybernetician Gordon Pask on the influential Fun Palace project. 

Ben is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) (2018-present) and is an active member of the International Society for Systems Sciences, the Systemic Design Association, and the British Cybernetics Society. Ben was awarded the Heinz von Foerster Award by the American Society for Cybernetics in 2014. Ben has extensive editorial experience, as a guest editor of journal special issues and as a member of editorial advisory boards. Ben is currently working on the development of a new journal to be published by the British Cybernetics Society. 

Approach to teaching

Drawing on ideas from cybernetics and radical constructivism, Ben’s approach to teaching and learning is based on understanding learning, designing, and researching in terms of each other.

Ben initially developed this approach in the context of undergraduate design studio, using the conversational format of teaching as a model of the conversational design processes that are being taught and learnt. Students develop insights through experience which can then be consolidated in retrospect, with the role of the tutor becoming one of managing this process through the introduction of supportive insights and new challenges. By periodically shifting to a meta-conversation (a conversation about the conversation), the implicit connections between form and content can be made explicit. As students progress, many of the conversations that are initially played out verbally between them and their tutors become internalised in students' practices.

Ben has since further developed this approach in the context of introducing research methods to designers at postgraduate level. Rather than encountering research as something other to design, new theoretical insights are grounded in experiences from the familiar contexts of design projects and everyday experience. Through a process of critiquing the research elements of what they already do, students develop an understanding of research from the inside, re-articulating the design expertise they are already developing at postgraduate level as expertise in research.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, University College London

Master, University College London

Master, University of Cambridge

External positions

Research Assistant, University College London

20062007

Keywords

  • NA Architecture
  • Cybernetics
  • Ethics
  • Systemic design
  • Radical Constructivism
  • Place

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