Personal profile

Research interests

My overall area of research consists of an exploration of the politics of spatial design. Growing up in New Zealand I became aware of the legacy of ‘Settler Colonialism’ and its consequences and effects on inhabited space. In recent years, work in Israel/Palestine has reinforced this interest and led to a current focus on the politics of domestic space. In particular, my research examines the way colonial conflicts enter into the domestic world through disputes over settlements and houses and through a variety of punitive measures, including home invasion, displacement, house demolition and exclusion.

Two parallel studies drive this research. The first explores narratives that unfold in specific places and the way these may be used to negotiate domestic spatial environments. Narrative may be considered to be an inherited capability forming individual and communal histories particular to the experience of a place. The second investigation is conducted through drawing, which has played a part in exploring the way issues of security, (walls, barriers and borders), have contributed to particular shaping of domestic space. From my background in architecture, fine art and engineering, these research strands have informed both teaching and on-going research activity.

Approach to teaching

Students discover themselves at university.

It is important for students to experience university not as a training ground but as a way to discover how they work best and how to develop their own processes and ways of thinking. Our ambition is to encourage students to take charge of their education, set their own agenda for learning and understand that it is not simply a case of 'us teaching you', but rather about ways we might help you to learn. We want students to bring ideas to the table for discussion. Of course we teach the skills students will need, but primarily teaching entails helping them discover ways of achieving what they are trying to do. We want to prepare students to deal with what they find out there [in the wider world] and to gain the confidence to be able to look at all possibilities. It is important also for students to see their courses as holistic and to comprehend how the modules link together.

Teaching Practice

The processes that I use in my teaching practice require that a student is able to listen and participate, to see and acknowledge the external world as having an existence of its own with which they should engage in an active, yet indeterminate, dialogue. Processes in teaching or design employ a variety of techniques. These vary, but all seek to challenge the determinism of linear thinking in favour of indeterminacies.

It is important for students to understand that creativity is not a linear process, that it often involves making new connections, crossing disciplines and using metaphors and analogies. Although creative work does involve a growing mastery of skills and concepts, it is not true that these have to be mastered before the creative work can begin.

One of my aims is to draw students out from what they see as their established core subject. It is important to understand that no discipline exists on its own and that they can decide where and how their work engages with other disciplines and the outside world. To this end we bring in colleagues from different areas with a range expertise they can offer to students.

I believe it is important to refresh the subject often by introducing something new or engaging students with unexpected aspects of the discipline. It is necessary to explore ways to ensure students are not passively receiving information but actively participating in their learning.

A key quality for design teaching is listening – to listen to what the student is trying to do with a design and help them unpick it so that the solution becomes available to them. Helping students discover things for themselves so they take ownership of their studies. It is important to recognise that individuals have different talents and aptitudes and different ways of getting to understand things. This means leaving room for these differences and not prescribing a standard for everyone to complete at the same time and in the same way.



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