After graduating from Hull School of Architecture, Helen then studied at Kingston School of Architecture and Landscape where she was subsequenty employed as a lecturer and senior researcher (1997 until 2003) within the Green Audit Research Group, the Sustainable Design Research Group, taught studio in year 1 and supervised many of the landscape and architecture dissertations. Alongside teaching and researching she established iballaston architecture in 1997 with her husband.

Helen joined the MSA as an Associate Lecturer in 2005, teaching in years 1 and 2, and then became full time in 2007. She led BA1 for five years, and currently Co-leads BA3 with Stephen McCusker whilst also leading a third year atelier, Manchester Spatial Agents (Praxis) alongside Stephen McCusker (Loop Systems). She also shares the teaching in the M.Arch atelier Manchester Spatial Agents (Projects) with Professor Stefan White and Sarah Renshaw (Loop Systems). Both MSA (Projects) and MSA (Praxis) focus on social, economic and environmental sustainability, and often undertake live projects working towards making cities more inclusive. Most participative urban design projects are sited within and around Manchester, although some have taken place in Equador, Athens and Kenya. Helen represented the school in the Faculty Academic Standards Quality Committee for five years, the Exceptional Factors Panel and has recently coordinated and assessed the M.Arch admissions for the school for three years.

Alongside her teaching, Helen set up PRAXXIS a feminist architectural collective with Emily Crompton, Sarah Renshaw and Kat Timmins. Praxxis is currently building a collection of consultation stations, designing some feminist architectural wallpaper and creating some engagement Top Trumps cards. Helen has also recently been directly involved with the Architecture School for Children (TASC), developing a long term business plan and various funding opportunities.

Throughout her time in practice and academia she has always investigated gendered territories of cities, and the way in which architectural practice sites itself within this environment. She has explored this through teaching, her own thesis project proposing the regeneration and the re-exposure of the sex industries in Soho, research into the space and manipulation of the female form, as a researcher at the Women's Art Library, and through her own architectural practice. Development of the architectural brief, client consultation, engagement techniques and design games are all tested within her practice and her BA3/M.Arch teaching in Manchester Spatial Agents (Projects) and (Praxis).

Projects

PRAXXIS

PRAXXIS is a feminist architectural collective with Emily Cromton, Sarah Renshaw and Kat Timmins.
It has three key aims...

INSPIRE: be a woman centred and woman led organisation with an open, honest, supportive and transparent working practice

CHALLENGE: be a learning organisation encouraging creativity and the sharing of knowledges through engagement, participation and partnership to promote inclusive design

IMPACT: influence the built environment professions using our voices to value diversity and champion equality
We are currently building a series of consultation stations, designing a feminist architectural wallpaper and creating some engagement Top Trumps cards.

Next project

the architecture school for children

Business modelling, funding stream development, knowledge exchange, designing, masterplanning and re-constructing the outdoor spaces of each school's playgrounds in collaboration with one manchester alongside the hub primary schools in Moss Side and Hulme

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den city

A collaborative project with Places- The Architecture School for Children. Designing and building dens in All Saints Park with year 4 and 5 childrens from various schools in Manchester and Salford.

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living here living there

In collaboration with Places and Webster Primary School, Moss Side year four children explored model making, drawing and photography to propose areas of the city.

Next project

tatton allotment 2013

When a shed is not a shed but a wall to a community arts allotment at the Tatton RHS show 2013, including a participative allotment poetry wall. Achieved a highly commended RHS award.

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atelier zero

A collaborative project between the MSA, Office for Subversive Architecture, curator Jane Anderson and Ecole Speciale, Paris. Designing and building a collection of art huts in Picadilly Basin, Manchester. March-Sept 2012

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iballaston architecture

Since 1997 I have run a small architectural practice – iballaston architecture, formed in order to draw on and develop our experiences to date. This has resulted in a number of small community and housing projects being undertaken, one in particular being the 5th Urmston new Scout HQ.

Our practice…
_provides a working platform for the development of our ideas and principles
_undertakes innovative consultation approaches
_has developed a series of design games for all client age groups
_helps others to build

Next project

it doesn't just end at the walls

It doesn't just end at the walls explores the artefacts, activities and users of a sustainable suburban dream. It aims to understand and challenge established views of British Suburbia and the future relationships with sustainability.

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research with bedzed

BEDZED HOUSING SCHEME, 1999 (INCOME £40,000): Project managed the live research, development and design project in association with the Peabody Trust, Bill Dunster Architects, and the Bio-Regional Development Group. The research project offered design proposals for eco-kitchens through minimisation of and locally sourced materials, proposed a business plan for car-pools, and explored ways of minimising energy consumption through researched ventilation strategies.

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other projects

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Research

Exhibitions

Aston, H., Places Project/TASC, 2015. Living here living there exhibition, Cube Gallery, Manchester, 2015.

Aston, H., 2015. Places Projects - den city and living here, living there, CUBE Gallery, Manchester, 2014-15.

Aston, H., Places Project/TASC, 2014. Den City, Cube Gallery, Manchester, 2014.

Aston, H. and Dr Stefan White, 2011. Sharing the City: MSA_P exhibition, CUBE Gallery, Manchester, September-October 2011..

Aston, H. and Dr Stefan White, 2011. Sharing the City: MSA_P pop-up shop, Trafford Centre, January 2011.

Aston, H. and Dr Stefan White, 2010. MSA_P exhibition, NoiseLAB, June 2010.

Kingston School of Architecture, 2000. Project House 2000, Wates Built Homes, Kinsgton University, 2000.

Aston, H., 1998. Postcards from Whiby, RIBA HQ, Portland Place, 1998.

Aston, H., 0. Postcards from Whitby, Royal Institute of Architects, London, July-September 1998.

Aston, H., 0. Project House 2000, Kingston University and Wates Built Homes.

Artefacts

Aston, H., 2016. 'St Mary's Primary School, Phase 2', further development of the outdoor spaces with and for the children at key stage 1, St Mary's Primary School, Moss Side Manchester.

Aston, H., TASC, 2016. 'St Mary's Primary School, Phase 2', St Mary's Primary School, Moss Side Manchester.

Aston, H. and Dr Stefan White, 2015. 'Blackpool Travellers Playground', a playground for a traveller community in Blackpool - the playground was designed along with the children. It was developed and constructed alongside Maddi Mooney and Matt Shanley, 2015.

Aston, H., 2015. 'St Mary's Primary School, Phase 1', development of the outdoor spaces with and for the children at key stage 1, St Mary's Primary School, Moss Side Manchester, 2015.

Aston, H., TASC, 2015. 'St Mary's Primary School, Phase 1', St Mary's Primary School, Moss Side Manchester.

Aston, H., 2014. 'den city', den city A collaborative project with Places. Designing and building dens in All Saints Park with year 4 and 5 childrens from various schools in Manchester and Salford..

Aston, H., Places Project/TASC, 2014. 'den city', All Saints Park, MMU.

Aston, H., 2014. 'Living here living there', In collaboration with Places and Webster Primary School, Moss Side year four children explored model making, drawing and photography to propose areas of the city., 2014.

Aston, H., Places Project/TASC, 2014. 'Living here living there', All Saints Park and Webster Primary School.

White, S., Aston, H., Shanley, M., Mooney, M., Minsky, J., 2014. 'Playground for Chapel Road Travelers site, Blackpool', Chapel Road Travelers site, Blackpool, UK..

Aston, H., 2013. 'Tatton allotment', When a shed is not a shed but a wall to a community arts allotment at the Tatton RHS show 2013, including a participative allotment poetry wall. Achieved a highly commended RHS award..

Aston, H., 2013. 'when is a shed not a shed?', Tatton Park.

Sanderson, L., Jefferies, T., Aston, H., 2012. 'Atelier[zero]', Manchester.

White, S., Aston, H., Manchester City Council, 2011. 'Sharing the city: Generations Together', Manchester.

Performances

McCusker, S., Aston, H., 2017. 'Participative Design Event at Stretford Public Hall in response to UA92 with 24 students, local residents, key stakeholders from Stretford Public Hall and Year 8 ambassadors from Stretford Grammar School', Stretford Public Hall, Stretford, M32 0LG, 14/10/2017 - 14/10/2017.

Aston, H., McCusker, S., 2017. 'Stretford Streetscapes 2016', Stretford Mall, 10/2016.

Aston, H., White, S., 2014. 'Sharing the City', Noiselab Gallery, Manchester, 2010.

Aston, H., White, S., 2014. 'Sharing the City pop up shop', Trafford Centre, Manchester, 2011.

Reports

Aston, H., Hammond, M., White, S., 2014. 'Manchester Compendium of Spatial Inclusion'.

Aston, H., 2003. 'sustainability in the curriculum'.

Royal Institute of British Architects, 2001. 'sustainability special interest group', CEBE/RIBA.

Aston, H., 2000. 'Project House 2000', Wates Built Homes.

Conference Papers

Sanderson, L., Aston, H., 2012. 'Atelier[zero] Negotiated Dialogues', The Production of Place, University of East London.

Presentations

Aston, H. and Sanderson, L, 2012. 'Atelier[zero] Negotiated Dialogues', The Production of Place, 2012, University of East London School of Architecture, December 2012.

Aston, H., 2002. 'Future Sustainability Teaching and Learning', Sustainability and Architectural Education Conference, Royal Institute of British Architects, June 2002, in CEBE website.

Aston, H., 2002. 'Red, Amber, Green: 75 Years of Communicating Sustainability', Sustainable Urban Design Conference, Kingston University, February 2002.

Aston, H., 2001. 'From Green Fingers to Green Goddess', British Interwar Suburbs, Dorich House Symposium, Kingston University and Design Historians Society, May 2001.

Aston, H., 2001. 'The Business Case for Sustainable Property', Construction Confederation Annual Conference, Construction Confederation, London, March 2001.

Aston, H., 2001. 'Why green is the new pink or why architects wear black', CUDE 2001 Conference, Cardiff University, September 2001, in CEBE website.

Aston, H., 2000. 'Reacting to the Ground Force', CUDE 2000 Conference, Sheffield University, April 2000, in CEBE website.

Other Outputs

Aston, H., 2016. 'the architecture school for children', business modelling, funding stream development, knowledge exchange, designing, masterplanning and re-constructing the outdoor spaces of each school's playgrounds in collaboration with one manchester alongside the hub primary schools in Moss Side and Hulme.

Aston, H., 2003. 'the wider architectural forum'.

Aston, H., 2001. 'Sustainability Special Interest Group', Sustainability and Architectural Education.