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Catriona Cheyne



Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

Kate’s research interests have developed out of her fifteen years in architectural practice leading on the use of prefabricated building systems combined with spatial and material innovation. Having worked in a diverse multi-disciplinary studio, from fashion designers to structural engineers and furniture makers to steel fabricators, she learnt the value of interdisciplinary thinking to evolving new design processes that can lead to alternative social and architectural propositions.  Much of her current design research deals with the possibilities of textiles as a viable building material (Tresses, 2009, Fabrikate, 2010, Seismic Shifts, 2011-2017, Strung Out, 2016). Within her teaching she embeds her research that addresses Cultural Landscapes, in particular, the relationship between local materials, growth of rural manufacture and vibrant rural communities (Haiti, 2010, ‘The Isle of Slingers’ 2013, ‘Ducks-a-dabbling’, 2014, ‘Village Factory’ 2014, ‘Blueprints for Future Factories’, 2017, ‘The Makers’ Nursery’, 2018). Kate’s material investigations, in collaboration with Glenn Longden-Thurgood, are tested as full scale prototype structures, through the students’ End of Year Show (Rammed Chalk, 2011, Bent Coppiced Beams, 2012, Reciprocating Grid Structures, 2013, Bundled & Lashed Joints, 2017).

Scholarly biography

Scholarly biography

Kate Cheyne is the Deputy Head of School for Architecture and Planning with a portfolio in Learning and Teaching within the School of Architecture and Design. She studied architecture at Glasgow School of Art and then at the Bartlett, UCL, qualifying as an architect in 1998. Having worked in various practices in London, Israel and Sri Lanka on housing, healthcare and community led projects, she jointly set up a London based, award-winning practice, Architects In Residence (AiR) in 2001.  AiR combined advanced practice with design studio teaching at the University of Brighton., At AiR, Kate led on innovative off-site construction (winner of the 2007 Wood Awards off-site construction category)  and novel material investigations (2010, FabriKate selected for Innovate UK, KTN Future Zone).  In 2010 she worked out in Haiti with the NGO Development Workshop France (DWF), consulting Save the Children USA on the design of transitional schools, post-earthquake. The designs incorporated Safer Construction methods and components of Disaster Resistance, and were procured using techniques designed to capacity build local skilled labour within the construction sector. Since September 2010, Kate took up a full-time post at the University of Brighton, bringing her practice-based knowledge into research and teaching. Since then she has developing cross-disciplinary thinking, design-led research and innovative material development within education. Kate jointly won the University of Brighton Research Challenges Award bid in 2011, alongside weaver and textile designer Kirsty McDougall, for their project ‘Seismic Shifts’, which has developed into a proof of concept structural health monitoring textile for application to the built environment. She is part of the Drawing Research and Enterprise Group (DREG), showing her drawings as part of a collective exhibition, Marks Make Meaning, 2018.

At University level, Kate is a member of the TEF Oversight Group, Learning & Teaching Committee, WiPAT Committee and Campus Communications  and Engagement team for the ‘Big Build’ Project. At School level Kate is a member of the School Management Group, Athena Swan Group, Health & Safety Committee and is a Chair of Exam Boards. She has been within the programme for two PSRB validation boards, and successful led on both the ARB Prescription Renewal (2015) the RIBA revalidation visit (2016).  She is currently leading the TEF submission for the subject area of Architecture, Building and Planning.  

Beyond the university Kate is a member of Standing Conference of Heads of Schools of Architecture (SCHOSA) and sits on the Royal Institute of British Architecture (RIBA) Validation panel visiting Schools. This includes an international remit where Kate has overseen validation for Schools of Architecture in Colombia and Argentina. Kate has acted as an External Examiner at many institutions. Currently examining BA(Hons)Architecture course at University of Westminster, she has previously examined at K’Arts, Seoul, South Korea (2016), Glasgow School of Art for MA in Interior Design (2011-2015 and BSc(Hons)Interior Architecture at Sligo, Ireland (2011-2014). She has acted as External Academic Representative at the Periodic Review, University of Greenwich / MSA University, Cairo.

Kate has jointly lead on the annual End of Year Show with Glenn Longden-Thurgood, since 2011, curating, designing and building exhibitions pavilions with students and staff. These shows have been used as an opportunity to not only propose new ways of exhibiting student architecture and design work to the public, but also as an opportunity to highlight the potential of public space as flexible, creative venues.  In 2013 and 2014 they worked with U+I developers to turn Brighton’s disused vegetable market – Circus Street, into a year-long creative venue, culminating in a month long student show. In 2018 they built the show on the award winning,  community-owned Hastings Pier, the week before it was sold to a private company.  

Previous roles held have included Academic Programme Leader for Architecture (2014 - 2016), Course Leader  and Third Year Co-ordinator for BA(hons) architecture (2011-2014), and Admissions Tutor (2010-2011). Kate teaches in design studio and technology, across undergraduate and postgraduate architecture courses. She has led interior architecture studios with Sophie Ungerer (2008-2010), Glenn Longden-Thurgood  (2004 – 2008), Mette Ramsgard-Thomson (2003-2004), postgraduate studios (2010-11 Brixton, 2017-18 New Haven), undergraduate studios with Graham Perring (2013-2014 Floodplains of The Ouse), Catrina Stewart (2012-2013 The Isle of Portland) and Carl Turner (2011-2012 Shoreham Fort) and Master students through the Oxford Brookes Practice-based RIBA Part 2 course (2016-18).  The work of the interior studio, titled ‘Intimate Encounters’, developed narratives around intimacy and the spectacle within the public realm, evolving surgically precise alterations to the existing fabric of the built environment. The work of the architecture studios built on previous ideas of subjectivity, by applying this knowledge of the collective self to gain a deeper understanding of place. The studio explored cultural landscapes to evolve new rural architectures, industries and social networks in response to histories and folklore. Student successes include Holly Crosbie, shortlisted (final 12) for the RIBA Bronze medal in 2012, Kirsty McMullan, nominated for the RIBA Bronze medal in 2013 and jointly won the RIBA Journal Eyeline Drawing Competition 2014, Rebecca Sturgess, won the RIBA South East Award, 2014, Robin Romei, nominated for RIBA Silver medal in 2018 from the Oxford Brookes Practice based RIBA Part 2 course.

Approach to teaching

As DHoS for Learning and Teaching, Kate leads the School in delivering a research-led education, where practices of rigorous enquiry permeate every part of what is undertaken. The school is always looking for opportunities where staff research can nourish the teaching and where teaching can enrich the research culture. Research undertaken by full time academics and part-time practitioners infuses the curriculum with current and emerging ideas and knowledge. The design studios, for example, are laboratories driven by tutors’ personal research agendas, which prioritise learning through active discovery rather than passive study. There is a potential benefit for both academic and student when the content being taught is fresh and is relevant to the academic, who will gain an opportunity for intellectual reflection through the students work. The opportunities for cross-disciplinary engagement inherent within the School’s make up are embraced through crossovers in student reviews, symposia and open lecture series by both staff and practitioners, exposing students to the wider School’s research culture.

The School believes that discovery-led education is deeper and more durable than conventional didactic methods. Students are offered the opportunity to co-create their curriculum, determining their research focus. For example, students may evolve their own design project brief, dissertation subject area or technology report focus within the context of a framework brief. This approach brings with it the opportunity for project work to become personally meaningful to the student, fostering intrinsic motivation and deep learning.

The School has a long lineage of live projects that offer students the opportunity for hands-on learning and experience in their disciplines, from the high profile Waste House to the annual construction of an exhibition pavilion. Practice is brought right to the heart of teaching with a strong contingent of part-time practitioners forming a key part of the design studio teaching team. This is a key component of our pedagogical approach, with its ambition to mimic the professional environment and evolve work under the guidance of skilled practitioners.

Kate’s design studio sees the definition of ‘place’ as central to an architecture that is not only successful as a visual object but also effective in responding to how we occupy space and affect the surrounding environment. Sites are real and multiple fieldtrips are set so students continuously return to place. Students are encouraged to understand that their role is relational rather than solitary, and positions them (the architect) within a network of users and needs, where the interpretation of site will be constantly transformed and renegotiated and the definition of place will become open ended rather than singular. (Kate Cheyne, “FIELDWORK: uncovering cultural landscapes” at: AAE (Association of Architectural Educators), 3rd – 5th September 2014, Sheffield University, p215 – 221 ISBN: 978-0-9929705-2-9)


Education/Academic qualification

University College London

1 Sep 19971 Aug 1998

Award Date: 1 Aug 1998

Master, University College London

15 Sep 19941 Aug 1996

Award Date: 1 Aug 1996

Bachelor, Glasgow School of Art

20 Sep 19891 Aug 1992

Award Date: 1 Jul 1992

External positions

External Examiner, Korea National University of Arts

1 Dec 20161 Feb 2017

External Examiner, University of Westminster

1 Oct 20161 Oct 2020

External Examiner, Glasgow School of Art

1 Sep 20111 Sep 2015

External Examiner, Institute of Technology Sligo

1 Jan 20111 Sep 2014


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