Professor Aylin Orbasli
Professor of Architectural and Urban Heritage
School of Architecture
Aylin Orbasli is a researcher and teacher focusing on the historic built environment, including architectural regeneration (adaptive reuse) and heritage management.
Aylin is co-founder and former subject coordinator of the Masters in International Architectural Regeneration and Development. She teaches theoretical modules and supervises Masters and PhD level research degrees. She is the deputy director of the Endangered Wooden Architecture Programme.
Alongside her teaching and research role at Oxford Brookes Aylin works internationally as an independent consultant advising on the protection, conservation and management of historic places and sites. Projects undertaken range from key strategic tourism and planning projects and historic environment studies, at national, regional or city level; the conservation, management and nomination processes for World Heritage Sites internationally. The international focus of her work is mainly the Middle East and the Mediterranean, and she has also worked in Southeast Asia.
Areas of expertise
- Urban conservation and tourism
- The urban heritage of the Islamic World (Middle East)
- Cultural heritage and building conservation
- Architectural regeneration (adaptive reuse)
- Heritage management
Teaching and supervision
- Applications in Regeneration (postgraduate, theoretical module)
- Independent Study (postgraduate, theory and practice)
- MA dissertation (postgraduate, theoretical module)
Aylin has supervised 13 PhDs to successful completion. She is currently welcoming PhD students in the subject areas of:
- Urban conservation and tourism-led regeneration
- Cultural heritage management and critical heritage studies
- World Heritage Sites: designation, protection and management
- Architectural regeneration and adaptive reuse
- Cultural heritage in the Islamic world
She has examined over 30 PhDs as internal or external examiner in the UK and internationally.
Aylin’s ongoing research focuses on the role heritage plays in the identity, branding and promotion of cities under the working title The 21st Century City: heritage, tourism and identity. The research specifically investigates the commodification of historic quarters as tourism destinations as a new urban construct; and the commercial and political re-invention of heritage as a tourism commodity to define local identity and distinctiveness. Current challenges such as over-tourism, global disrupters, rapid gentrification, climate adaptation are evaluated and urban management approaches that relate to the evolving nature of what constitutes historic buildings today and the more fluid, creative and dynamic approaches to regeneration are examined through case studies. The planned output for this research is a book.
Aylin has a specific interest in the Middle East and Islamic towns, and continues to research and publish on the architectural heritage of the region. This builds on over 20 years of researching and working in the region.
Aylin’s research has contributed to the academic fields of conservation theory, urban conservation theory, theories on the tourism and heritage dialectic and heritage management. Alongside academic impacts, her research has had substantial practice impacts in the fields of building conservation and heritage management.
Her research into heritage management has resulted in policy impacts influencing legislation. Knowledge transfer activities are a common component of her work with State Governments and international organisations such as UNESCO, while wide ranging stakeholder engagement activities deliver societal impacts.
Research grants and awards
Aylin has been the beneficiary of research grants from a range of funding organisations including the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the European Union. She has attracted smaller grants, including from Santander and the INTACH-UK Trust to support student field visits and exhibitions.
- Architectural Regeneration
- Black in Architecture
- Community-led Heritage Regeneration in India
- Community participation and practices of engagement
- Tourism, heritage and identity
- Urban and architectural forms of the 19th century Red Sea
- Endangered Wooden Architecture Programme (EWAP)
Projects as Co-investigator
- Endangered Wooden Architecture Program (Arcadia)(01/01/2021 - 30/09/2026), funded by: Arcadia Fund, funding amount received by Brookes: £1,302,065, funded by: Arcadia Fund
Orbasli A, Cesaro G, 'Rethinking management planning methodologies: a novel approach implemented at Petra World Heritage Site'
Conservation and Management of Archaeological Sites 22 (1/2) (2021) pp.93-111
ISSN: 1350-5033 eISSN: 1753-5522Abstract Published here Open Access on RADAR
Orbaşli A, 'Conservation Theory in the 21st century: slow evolution or a paradigm shift?'
Journal of Architectural Conservation 23 (3) (2017) pp.157-170
ISSN: 1355-6207Abstract Published here Open Access on RADAR
Orbasli A, 'Nara +20: a theory and practice perspective'
Heritage & Society 8 (2) (2016) pp.178-188
ISSN: 2159-032X eISSN: 2159-0338Abstract Published here Open Access on RADAR
Orbasli A, 'The conservation of coral buildings on Saudi Arabia's northern Red Sea coast'
Journal of Architectural Conservation 15 (1) (2009) pp.49-64
ISSN: 1355-6207Abstract Published here
Orbasli A, Woodward S, 'A Railway "Route" as a Linear Heritage Attraction: The Hijaz Railway in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia'
Journal of Heritage Tourism 3 (3) (2008) pp.159-175
ISSN: 1743-873XAbstract Published here
Orbasli A, 'Training Conservation Professionals in the Middle East'
Built Environment 33 (3) (2007) pp.307-322
ISSN: 0263-7960Abstract Published here
Orbasli A, Whitbourn P, 'Professional Training and Specialisation in Conservation: An ICOMOS Viewpoint'
Journal of Architectural Conservation 8 (3) (2002) pp.61-72
ISSN: 1355-6207Abstract Published here
Orbasli A, 'Is Tourism Governing Conservation in Historic Towns?'
Journal of Architectural Conservation 6 (3) (2000) pp.7-19
ISSN: 1355-6207Abstract Published here
Memberships of professional bodies
- Member, Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC)
- Deputy chair, British Institute at Ankara (BIAA), part of the British Academy (2022- )
- Expert member of ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) International Scientific Committee for Training and International Cultural Tourism Committee
- Member, ICOMOS-UK and member of Executive Board (2000-14)
- Trustee, Paul Oliver Vernacular Architecture Library
- Member of RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) Conservation Advisory Group (2018- )
- Member of Fabric Advisory Committee to Chichester Cathedral (2018- )
Aylin has delivered over 100 presentations at conferences, seminars and panel discussions globally, with some of the most prominent keynote presentations being:
- ‘Managing Tourism in World Heritage Cities: Combining Established Pathways with Innovation’, Organisation of World Heritage Cities, Asia Pacific Regional Conference, Suzhou, China (2018)
- ‘Cultural Heritage and Urban Tourism in the 21st Century’, Belgrade International Tourism Conference (BITCO), Belgrade, Serbia (2018)
- ‘Preserving the modernist vernacular in the Middle East’, Conservation and preservation of Modern Heritage in MENA region, Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany (2017)
- ‘An architectural legacy of exchange: the making of the Red Sea style’ Red Sea VIII, Warsaw, Poland (2017)
- ‘Cultural Heritage and Regeneration: tourism and beyond’ at Local Assets for Community Empowerment and Development conference, Tafila Jordan, organised by the Jordanian Department of Antiquities and the British Centre for Research in the Levant (2014)
- ‘Urban Conservation and the Gulf States: methodologies for assessing authenticity’ at the meeting convened to mark the 20th Anniversary of the UNESCO Nara Document on Authenticity, organised by the Japanese Ministry of Culture, Nara, Japan (2014)
- ‘Conservation and Sustainability’, presentation to State Parties meeting to discuss the Future of the World Heritage Convention, UNESCO, Paris (2009)