Manchester Metropolitan University

Our Research Degree students are attached to Manchester School of Art Research Centre (MSARC), supported by staff who possess unique and broad range of interests and expertise across theory, design, policy, and practice. The PhD and MA in Research programmes are intrinsically inter-disciplinary and are open to students with interests in any aspect of architectural research spanning a wide range of subjects including sustainable urbanism, urban design and development, ecological and landscape design, conservation and management of historic environments, urban and community resilience, smart Cities, adaptive re-use of buildings, Inclusive built environments, ageing in place and landscape architecture.

This interdisciplinary approach is linked to understanding technological innovation and urban transformations, analysing, and integrating previously disconnected research fields - architecture and urban planning, the property sector, civil engineering, and utilities industry; and stimulating collaborative, inter-disciplinary methodological approaches to understanding architecture and engaging with contemporary practice in a global context. Working across these range of research topics, students have the opportunity to build networks relationships that will be beneficial for their future careers.

The Researcher Development Programme provides research training, skills development opportunities and workshops on the various progression stages of the Doctoral experience. Practice based students are supported by seminars, exhibitions, and reviews, complemented by symposiums and student led activities. Manchester Metropolitan University is a member of the North West Doctoral Training Consortium and students are able to join training and events across the region. They are also able to apply for The Leverhulme Unit for the Design of Cities of the Future studentships that bring together all stakeholders to transform the way we think about cities and to envisage new ways of living and working.

University of Manchester

PhD Architecture at the University of Manchester is based within the Manchester Architecture Research Group (MARG), and looks beyond technical design to the complex processes and practices that run through the development adaptation and the use of built environments.

We traverse the disciplinary boundaries of architecture and social sciences to open new areas of architectural research, create new standards of architectural study, and craft new conceptual language to inform and influence architectural policy.

Sitting within the School of Environment, Education and Development, and the Manchester Urban Institute, allows us to benefit from synergies with Planning and Environmental Management, Geography, and several other disciplines. Through these connections, we have developed a distinctive expertise based on theoretical experimentation, methodological rigour, empirical attention, and a hands-on study of architectural practice, building technology and techniques of architectural representation and mapping.

Current PhD students

Thomas Goessler (MMU)

Potentials of Smart Technology for Adaptive Residential Spaces

This research aims to investigate the potential of adaptive homes and smart technology in improving the space efficiency of small dwellings, addressing the prevalent issue of space dissatisfaction in UK homes. Drawing upon concepts of micro-living and cybernetics in architecture that emerged in the mid-20th century, exploring the integration of information theory, control systems, and computational technologies to enhance the adaptive and interactive capabilities of built environments, this user-centric study explores different types of flexibility and adaptation in terms of moving element sizes, transformation time, and manual or automatic execution. However, there is a limited understanding of user perspectives regarding their expectations, concerns, and psychological reaction to constantly changing environments. To bridge this gap, this PhD project seeks to categorize approaches and analyse user feedback to better comprehend the effectiveness and acceptance of these strategies.


Reiji Nagaoka (MMU)

Reiji's Leverhulme Unit for the Design of Future Cities (LuDEC) funded project explores climate-related collective player actions in a Multiplayer Online Environmental Videogame. It adopts an interdisciplinary approach to analyse collective player actions within a (simulated) urban context where interactive and collective player behaviours in a dynamic game environment have explicit climate implications and ecological impacts at a systemic level.

Having started in September 2022, Reiji is primarily conducting a literature review, focusing upon climate change, its impacts upon cities, and mitigation strategies. For the latter, Reiji is examining how ecological/environmental (used interchangeably) games (eco-games) can be used as for climate change communication. In April 2023, as part of a scoping study, Reiji developed an Online Multiplayer Urban Planning Eco-Game, Ecoville, which was presented and run as a workshop at the 2023 AESOP Planning and Complexity Conference.

For more information, visit or follow @nagaokadev on Twitter.


Loretta Lipworth (MMU)

Construction Site Affects and the Use of Building Information Modelling (BIM)

The aim of the research project is to investigate the relationship between affects and BIM work to understand how digital practices affectively take shape in the construction industry.

BIM is a central process in the capture, production and management of digital data in construction projects, and a core component of UK construction industry digital transformation.

Proliferation of BIM is widely espoused in industry and academic discourse as an exciting solution to a variety of current concerns, and in recent years especially, there has been a policy push for better use of BIM technologies and processes. However, very little is understood about the nuanced, everyday experiences of practitioners engaged in BIM-related work on site. The PhD project aims to address this gap by investigating how affects shape, and are shaped, by BIM work during the construction stage.


Suha Bekki (UoM)

Light and Sacred Space

The aim of this research is to examine the impact of both natural and artificial light on the spatial experience in sacred spaces. The utilisation of lighting techniques can produce either a dramatic effect that evokes suspense or a harmonious effect that promotes tranquilly, thereby influencing the spatial experience within a luminous environment. A key aspect is the use of daylight apertures, such as windows and fenestration, that correspond to the geographic location and the direction of the sun, as well as the artificial lighting quality, intensity, colour temperature, and scene settings. The presence of light can convey poetic and mystical characteristics to a building's interior and exterior. This study seeks to investigate the phenomenology of light in Middle Eastern sacred spaces. It addresses gaps in the study of Christian worship places (churches and monasteries) in the region of Egypt and Jordan, which is referred to as the Holy Land.


Ben Blackwell (UoM)

Building a Graphene City: Infrastructures of technoscience in the knowledge economy

Thesis submitted to the University of Manchester, 2022. Funded through the NWCDTP programme Transformation North West.

This thesis aimed to explore the active role of architecture and the configuration of spaces of science in redefining and reshuffling the boundaries between academic and industrial knowledge production. Focussing on the University of Manchester’s development of specialist laboratory facilities for research and scale-up of the nanomaterial graphene (and most notably the £60 million Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre), the research looked to understand how space became part of the scientific infrastructures (Edwards, 2010; Bowker, 2018) seeking to translate scientific principles into industrial products and processes, a task which is increasingly becoming part of the remit of the University (Slaughter and Leslie, 1997; Stengers, 2018). The research followed a Science and Technology Studies (STS) theoretical framework and drew on Actor-Network-Theory (ANT) as a methodology. Heeding Latour’s call to follow science in-the-making in the midst of the production of facts and technologies, rather than ready-made science as seen after the fact or technology has been stabilised (Latour, 1987), the study explored the spatial practices through which connections between academic and industrial forms of knowledge emerged in the new facilities. It drew on scientometric and textual analysis network mapping, a five-month ethnographic study of the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, shadowing of a key actor, and 35 semi-structured and 3 walking interviews.