Sarah’s research interests focus on architectural engagement with temporality, ambiguity and uncertainty explored through agendas of sustainability and architectural experience. This work directly informs her teaching and design studio agendas and was informed by her PhD in responsive architecture, focusing on kinetic facades, sponsored by Arup.
Previously a senior architect in practice, Sarah’s experience included design research into zero carbon housing prototypes and the development of adaptive portable structures. As a freelance consultant her work has included contributions to the BRE Green Guide to Specification for Housing and Green Guide to Specification for Offices.
Her pedagogic research rotates around a concern for student experience within the design studio, with previous work exploring the critique and graduate engagement.
Sarah Stevens supervisory interests sit within the exploration of architectural experience, ambiguity, uncertainty and temporality within architecture, with a particular focus on drawing, responsive architectures and facades.
Terry Meade, University of Brighton. Working title: Drawing Out Occupation: a study of how drawing may be used to reveal and clarify spatial complexities in a conflict zone.
PhD Examination, Francesco Pomponi, University of Brighton. Title: Operational performance and life cycle assessment of double skin façades for office refurbishments in the UK
PhD Examination, Yahya Ibraheem, University of Brighton. Title: Integrated Facade Systems for highly- to fully-glazed office buildings in hot and arid climates
PhD Examination, Sabrina Barbosa, University of Brighton. Title: Thermal performance of naturally ventilated office buildings with double skin façade under Brazilian climate conditions
Approach to teaching
My teaching feeds off my research and PhD, engaging in both research led and research based practice.
Individual Student Experience
Everyone is unique, our students come from diverse and international backgrounds, and so my aim is to work with students on an individual basis, sculpting the right approach to release their potential. An important aspect of this process is building trust and an environment where it feels safe to expose both strengths and weaknesses. Learning through experimentation and risking errors is an important and valid part of the design process, and it is therefore important to build a learning environment where it feels safe to make mistakes and to learn from these. Within this my teaching practice engages with shared problem solving, active listening and student led conversations.
This concern for the student experience, in particular with regards to the crit [student review] is something I explored through work for my HEA Fellowship. Creativity can be a fragile thing and so I aim to build a positive environment that actively nourishes it.
The Students become the Experts
Within my design studio I work with briefs that encourage students to draw out their own area of research within which to become the expert. This brings with it the opportunity for the work to become personally meaningful and a far richer experience, generating all the benefits of intrinsic motivation and deep learning. I really enjoy working with students in this way to evolve their own approach and architectural language. It is always incredibly rewarding seeing individual approaches emerging, new work being ventured, unexpected responses pursued and students exceeding their own expectations.
Peer Reviewer, International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation, Taylor & Francis
External Examiner, Oxford Brookes University