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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 in topics such as ethics, place, methodology, the relation between design and ecological crisis, and the history of intersections between architecture and cybernetics.

 

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 has been Course Leader for MRes Architectural Research (2020-2023) and BA(Hons) Architecture (2014-2019), and has undertaken leadership roles such as Learning and Teaching Co-Lead in the School of Architecture, Technology, and Engineering (2021-2022) and Deputy Head of School (Learning and Teaching) for the School of Architecture and Design (2020).

Ben studied architecture at the University of Cambridge (MA) and the Bartlett, UCL (DipArch, MArch, PhD). Ben completed the PhD by architectural design in 2014, supervised by Neil Spiller and Ranulph Glanville at UCL, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). 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. Ben has taught at Brighton since 2007, first as a visiting lecturer (2007-2008) before being appointed to a lectureship (2009-present). Ben has also taught at the University of Greenwich (2010-2012), London South Bank University (2008-2009), and Kingston University (2008), and held a research assistant position at UCL (2006-2007).

Ben is active in editorial work, peer review, and contributions to scholarly societies. Ben was awarded the Heinz von Foerster Award by the American Society for Cybernetics (ASC) in 2014 and subsequently became a member of the ASC Executive Committee (2018-present). Ben is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal Enacting Cybernetics, which is published by the Cybernetics Society and hosted by Ubiquity Press. Ben led the organisation of the 11th Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD11) Symposium, which was hosted at the University of Brighton in 2022. Ben is principal investigator of the project Enacting Ecological Aesthetics (2023-2025) funded by the AHRC and the German Research Foundation (DFG), which explores the ecological ideas of cybernetician and anthropologist Gregory Bateson in relation to contemporary challenges in architecture and design.

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. In teaching undergraduate design studio, Ben uses 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.

External positions

Research Assistant, University College London

20062007

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