Gemma Barton

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Personal profile

Approach to teaching

My guiding intention as an educator is to facilitate learning that enables students to go out into the world, and define creative disciplines.

Since 2005 I have been teaching and developing excellence in the next generation of architects and interior architects, at the University of Brighton since 2010 where (August 2015) I took on leadership of the BA (Hons) Interior Architecture (BAIA) course. I have since re-designed the curricula, pedagogic strategies and course identity.

“Teaching is even more difficult than learning because what teaching calls for is this: to let learn.” (Heidegger, 1968)

I learnt this lesson in my first teaching post in 2006. Just months after completing my Masters in Architecture, Nottingham University, I was invited back to run a Level 4 design studio (25 students following the same design brief). I’d had experience as a teaching assistant during my postgrad so the practices and surroundings were familiar. However, being responsible for 25 students was definitely new. I knew if I was to gain their respect and commitment to learning I had to approach my time with them creatively, using what was in my limited tool-belt. I focused on developing an honest and approachable relationship supporting their individual learning needs whilst encouraging them to be confident in their abilities: an approach I still prioritise 12 years later. A strong foundation is so important in level 4, and much of this, in creative disciplines, comes from a place of confidence and care. I believe the role of the teacher is to facilitate learning, and sometimes that facilitation isn’t about imparting knowledge directly but is rather about providing a safe, caring and confidence-inducing environment. 


My pedagogic model, ‘experimental realism’ (for which I was awarded an National Teaching Fellowship in 2019) explores cinematic storytelling and ficto-critical approaches to imagined environments absorbing the extremes of fact-as-truth and untested-fiction as fuel for fantastic yet grounded speculative content. Acting in the midst of uncertainty, developing the life skills to imagine alternatives, to plan for eventualities, and therefore be a better more informed designer, for human centred spaces and experiences. 



Research interests

As an author and academic, I have taught and published on the subjects of

  • speculative (spatial) design
  • design fictions + futures
  • experimental pedagogy
  • gender + feminism
  • film + spatial production
  • narrative + story telling
  • reality + representation
  • career + enterprise
  • academia + teaching
  • interiors + architecture 

All directly informing my approach to teaching and learning, centring around inspiring students to develop their potential.




Scholarly biography


MOCCA - Museum Contempory Art Canada Exhibition, October 2014, Toronto.

Exhibtion title: ‘To Be Destroyed’

Work title: Movable Feast


Tate Britain Exhibition: Tiny Tate, Nov 2012.

Work Title: SCAN.IT 



Computer Arts Magazine, Vol 253, May 2016

Issue theme ‘Becoming a Creative Entreprenuer’ inspired by my book ‘Don’t get a Job… Make a Job’ includes an interview with myself.


Research Matters

Brighton University Centre for Research and Development, Sept 2015


Building Design, August 2015. Book Review.



Building Design, March 2015. Book Review.

EDUCATING ARCHITECTS: How tomorrows architects will learn today. (Neil Spiller, Nic Clear)


Architects Journal, Feb 2015

Article Title: 'Universities are not in the business of producing faster horses'


Architecture-Education Podcast

Feb 2015. Episode 3

Future of Architectural Education, producer James Benedict-Brown


Blueprint Magazine, Sept 2014

LISTEN: Interior Architecture


Fulcrum, Architectural Association publication

Nov 2103

‘Diversify or Die’ – an analysis of the ‘alternative.’


Blueprint Magazine, Jan 2013.

‘The Name Game’ – a history and analysis of the ‘naming process’ of architects’ practices, interviews with FAT, AOC, UNSTUDIO


MARK Magazine, Nov 2012.

Slide, an analysis of the reasons behind and benefits of slide applications in buildings.



Charette, Journal of the Association of Architectural Educators (AAE).

Vol. 3 issue 2 Oct 2017. Journal Topic: 0 hours - the role and impact of ‘transient’ teachers in architectural education.


Project Orange Architects practice-based research journal. October 2016

Title: PO Box 3 – Housing, House, Home.


EDGEcondition, co-founding editor of online bi-monthly architecture journal interrogating the vocation and activity of those positioned on the periphery of formal architecture. 2013-14

Vol. 1 – The Seams

Vol.2 – Presenting Architecture

Vol.3 – Art & Architecture

Vol.4 – Teaching the Future

Vol.5 – Placemaking

Vol.6 – Heritage


Public lectures/appearances.

Chair - TWINS talks, curated by Prof Robert Mull & Charles Holland. Jan-March 2017

Dead Centre  /  Rural Futurism  /  Lost & Found /  Marginal Activity  /  Edge of Empire


Bartlett School of Architecture, Dec 2016

Professional Studies Lecture: Don’t Get a Job… Make a Job


Brighton Digital Festival (Wired Sussex) Sept 2016

Creative, Digital and IT Open Studios. Lecture: Don’t Get a Job… Make a Job


D&AD New Blood, London, July 2016

Lecture: Don’t Get a Job… Make a Job & Book signing


Young Creative Council, Soho, London, May 2016

Lecture: Don’t Get a Job… Make a Job & Book signing


Camberwell College of Art, London, May 2016

Lecture: Don’t Get a Job… Make a Job


Portsmouth School of Architecture, April 2016

Lecture: Don’t Get a Job… Make a Job


Design Museum, London, March 2016

Presentation & Panel. Title: Tomorrow’s Designers


Royal College of Art, London, Feb 2016

Lecture: Inhabitation and Deception


The Architecture Foundation, London, Nov 2014

Presentation & Panel alongside Neil Spiller, Robert Mull and Peter Clegg.

Title: Future of architectural education


Leeds Met University, April 2014

‘Inside Out Lecture Series’  

Lecture: Narrative in Design



Competiton Jury.

Blueprint Magazine Jury member 2015 Graduates: Blueprint’s Ones to Watch, Sept/Oct

Architizer Awards Invited judge: Architizer A+ Awards, March 2013-17

Society British Interior Designers Invited Judge: SBID Awards, Technical Judge, Sept 2013

Philips Liveable Cities Invited judge: Philips Liveable Ctites competition and round table event, Dec 2012, London

Education/Academic qualification

Master, University of Nottingham

1 Sep 20041 Jun 2006

Bachelor, University of Nottingham

1 Sep 20001 Jun 2003

External positions

External Examiner, University of Plymouth

1 Sep 202031 Aug 2024

National Teaching Fellowship Scheme [NTFS] reviewer

1 Mar 2020 → …

Board Member

1 Oct 2019 → …

Board Member

1 May 2018 → …

International advisory board member, Piet Zwart Institure, Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam

1 Sep 20161 Jun 2018

Chief External Examiner, School of Design, Glasgow School of Art

1 Sep 20151 Jun 2021


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