Dr Emma Rowden
BA [UNSW], B Arch (Hons 1) [UNSW], PhD [University of Melbourne], PCTHE [Oxford Brookes University], Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
Emma joined Oxford Brookes in July 2019 as Senior Lecturer in Architectural History and Theory in the School of Architecture.
From September 2021 she became the Postgraduate Research Tutor (PGRT) for the School of Architecture, and in this role she manages the school’s MPhil and PhD candidates’ progression from interview to completion. As PGRT she sits on several University research committees, including the Humanities, Environment and Social Sciences (HESS) Research Sub-Committee, the Research Degrees Committee (RDC), the Faculty’s Research Knowledge Exchange Committee (TDE RKEC) and Research Degrees Sub-Committee (TDE RDSC).
In January 2022, Emma became the co-lead of the TDE Doctoral Training Program Environment and Society stream with colleague Dr Ben Spencer (PGRT, School of Built Environment).
Prior to this she was a Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in Australia, and had previously held a range of research and teaching roles at Western Sydney University, the University of New South Wales (UNSW Australia) and the University of Melbourne.
Teaching and supervision
- Architecture (BA (Hons))
- Applied Design in Architecture (ARB and RIBA part 2) (MArchD)
- Global Development and Humanitarian Practice (MA, PGDip, PGCert)
- Interior Architecture (MA)
Emma’s main teaching focus is research methods, which she teaches across all levels of the school. While mainly teaching postgraduate students across design studios (the Research-led design specialisation) and through leading the research methods modules, Emma also teaches into the undergraduate programme through the 'Dissertation' module and various history and theory modules. Through her co-leadership of the Environment and Society stream of TDE’s Doctoral Training Programme, she also teaches research methods to MPhil/PhD students.
Emma is passionate about enhancing the research and writing skills of designers, and aims in her teaching to arm architecture students with practical advocacy skills to help fulfil their ambitions to design for the common good. She has also developed a number of different resources for the ethical training of students and staff that are deployed across the school.
As well as being the Postgraduate Research Tutor, Emma is a supervisor and welcomes MPhil/PhD applications from a wide range of areas and disciplines sympathetic to her research interests and expertise. These subjects include: law and architecture, justice environments, environmental psychology, public architecture, the architectural profession, architecture and the arts, architectural briefing, architecture and human rights, as well as research projects involving archival research and/or oral history.
Emma is currently on the supervisory team of two PhD candidates in the School of Architecture.
Emma’s research interests span the politics of design, the relationship between architecture, democracy and ‘the public’, and the role of public architecture and public-sector workplaces in the development of the architectural profession. Her research to date has focused on our understanding of the relationship between spatial design and perceptions of fairness through how we can better facilitate access to justice through the design of our law courts.
Emma's interdisciplinary research is driven by the desire to make architecture more inclusive; the discipline more accountable to the public; and, processes of procurement more reflective of the democratic principles of procedural fairness, social justice and due process.
Since receiving her PhD from the University of Melbourne in 2011 for her doctoral thesis entitled Remote Participation and the Distributed Court: an approach to court architecture in the age of video-mediated communications, Emma has contributed to several large cross-university research teams on externally funded empirical projects. These projects have explored various aspects of the design of law courts, and have led to an extensive body of work that spans the disciplines of architectural history and theory, socio-legal studies, legal history and sociology.
Emma’s most significant contribution to this growing academic field is the book The Democratic Courthouse: a modern history of design, due process and dignity (2020, Routledge). This monograph, co-authored with Professor Linda Mulcahy (Director of the Socio-Legal Studies Centre, University of Oxford) reports on the findings of the Leverhulme Trust funded project entitled Design and Due Process: facilitating participation in the justice system. This project examined whether the design of courthouses in England and Wales between 1970 and the present day facilitates participation in, and scrutiny of, the modern justice system. The resulting monograph involved a detailed analysis of over 20,000 pages of government papers, held in both public and privately held department collections, towards writing a definitive history of the design of law courts in late modernity. The book was shortlisted for the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Book Prize in 2021.
Her doctoral research findings, that focused on the impact of videolinks on courthouse design, have become even more relevant since the marked increase in online proceedings in the post-pandemic context. Emma’s most recent research project, Virtual Justice: Enhancing accessibility, participation and procedural justice in family courts and tribunals during the COVID-19 pandemic, was funded by the ESRC through the UKRI Ideas to Address COVID-19 grant call. The project, led by Linda Mulcahy, resulted in the creation of five short explanatory films, developed and tested with lay users of the justice system, to better prepare litigants for online justice hearings. On the project, Emma played a pivotal role in designing, editing and producing the films. The films cover several distinct jurisdictions including the Family Court, the Employment Tribunal and the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal as well as a generic film about attending an online hearing. They are available with subtitles in six languages along with a British Sign Language version of each. The films were launched as a playlist on Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service YouTube channel in March 2022 and, a year since their launch, have collectively garnered over 12,000 views. The Supporting Online Justice Project was awarded a University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor's Innovation and Engagement Award 2022, and has also been shortlisted for the Socio-Legal Studies Association (SLSA) Impact Prize 2023.
Research grants and awards
- 2023: The Supporting Online Justice project - shortlisted for the Socio-Legal Studies Association’s Impact Prize 2023
- 2022: University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor's Innovation and Engagement Award
- 2021: The Democratic Courthouse - shortlisted for the Socio-Legal Studies Association’s History and Theory Book Prize 2021
- 2020: Virtual Justice: Enhancing accessibility, participation and procedural justice in family courts and tribunals during the COVID-19 pandemic, research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the UKRI Ideas to Address COVID-19 grant call. Role: Co-Investigator (Lead Investigator: Professor Linda Mulcahy, University of Oxford, collaborating with one other academic).
- 2015: Visiting Fellowship at the London School of Economics and Political Science
- 2015: International Researcher Development Scheme (University of Technology Sydney Internal Grant)
- 2013: University of Technology Sydney Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow
- 2020 Virtual Justice: Enhancing accessibility, participation and procedural justice in family courts and tribunals during the COVID-19 pandemic, research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the UKRI Ideas to Address COVID-19 grant call. Role: Co-Investigator (Lead Investigator: Professor Linda Mulcahy, University of Oxford, collaborating with one other academic).
- 2014 Design and Due Process: facilitating participation in the justice system, research project funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant. Role: Co-Investigator (Lead Investigator: Professor Linda Mulcahy, University of Oxford).
- 2013 Just Spaces: security without prejudice in the wireless courtroom, research project funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant. Role: Chief Investigator (Lead Investigator: Professor David Tait, Western Sydney University, collaborating with four other academics spanning six institutions internationally, and seven industry partners).
- 2013 Contested Visions of Justice: designing the space of law in Australia, research project, funded by the University of Technology Sydney Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Scheme.
- 2007 Fortress or Sanctuary? Enhancing court safety by managing people, places and processes, research project funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant. Role: Research Associate. (Lead Investigator: Professor David Tait, Western Sydney University, collaborating with nine other academics spanning eight institutions, and five industry partners).
- 2007 Gateways to Justice: improving video-mediated communications for justice participants, research project funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant. Role: Australian Postgraduate Award (Industry) PhD candidate). (Lead Investigator: Professor David Tait, Western Sydney University, collaborating with seven other academics spanning five institutions, and eight industry partners).
Building on over a decade of research into courthouse architecture and remote participation in courts, Emma’s findings have resulted in the development of several practical applications that have furthered the impact of her work. These include the highly praised information videos for litigants attending online hearings that have been awarded for their impact, as well as design guidelines for practitioners and designers. Through the Gateways to Justice design guidelines that were developed from her PhD findings, and further collaborations on guidance with other researchers since, Emma’s research has influenced the design of courthouses (see, for instance, the Coffs Harbour Courthouse, as discussed in Rowden and Jones, 2018). She is also often invited by policy makers, the judiciary, not-for-profit organisations and fellow academics internationally to discuss the design of justice environments and the implementation and integration of videoconferencing technologies in justice processes.
Mulcahy L, Rowden E, 'From private office to civil service department: cultural change in the Lord Chancellor's Department, 1970–1986'
International Journal of the Legal Profession 28 (1) (2021) pp.43-63
ISSN: 0969-5958 eISSN: 1469-9257Abstract Published here
Rowden E, Wallace A, 'Remote judging: The impact of video links on the image and the role of the judge'
International Journal of Law in Context 14 (4) (2018) pp.504-524
ISSN: 1744-5523 eISSN: 1744-5531Published here
Rowden E, Wallace A, 'Performing Expertise: The Design of Audiovisual Links and the Construction of the Remote Expert Witness in Court'
Social and Legal Studies 28 (5) (2018) pp.698-718
ISSN: 0964-6639 eISSN: 1461-7390Abstract Published here
Mulcahy L, Rowden E, Orr K, 'Making sense of law: Pungency, feel and rhythm'
Law, Culture and the Humanities 14 (2) (2018) pp.199-201
ISSN: 1743-8721 eISSN: 1743-9752Published here
Rowden E, Jones D, 'Design, dignity and due process: The construction of the Coffs Harbour Courthouse'
Law, Culture and the Humanities 14 (2) (2018) pp.317-336-336
ISSN: 1743-8721 eISSN: 1743-9752Abstract Published here
Rowden E, 'Distributed courts and legitimacy: What do we lose when we lose the courthouse?'
Law, Culture and the Humanities 14 (2) (2018) pp.263-281-281
ISSN: 1743-8721 eISSN: 1743-9752Abstract Published here
Wallace A, Blackman D, Rowden E, 'Reconceptualizing Security Strategies For Courts: Developing A Typology For Safer Court Environments'
International Journal for Court Administration 5 (2013) pp.3-9
ISSN: 2156-7964Abstract Published here
Davison G, Rowden E, '"There's Something about Subi": Defending and Creating Neighbourhood Character in Perth, Australia'
Journal of Urban Design 17 (2) (2012) pp.189-212
ISSN: 1357-4809 eISSN: 1469-9664Abstract Published here
Rowden E, Wallace A, Goodman-Delahunty J, 'Sentencing by videolink: Up in the air?'
Criminal Law Journal 34 (2010) pp.363-384
Rowden E, 'Waste Not'
Monument 2008 (2008) pp.32-38
Memberships of professional bodies
Emma is a member of the European Architectural History Network and the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand. Emma is also a member of the Court of the Future Network (an international research network that aims to increase discussion and dialogue between architects, researchers, judges, court administrators and policy-makers), and an associate researcher of L'Institut des hautes études sur la Justice.
Emma has assisted in the organisation of several international academic conferences that explore the intersection between architecture and justice. These include the Architecture, Law and the Senses Symposium (3-4 September 2014, UTS, Sydney) and the Evidence of Bodies | Bodies of EvidenceSymposium (10 March 2013, UTS, Sydney), the Ninth Annual Jury Conference (The Mint, Sydney, 15 July 2011) and the Third Justice Environments Conference (World Square, Sydney, 20-22 May 2010). Emma was also on the organising committee for several Court of the Future Network Executive Research Court Tours, including the Montreal and New York City Court Architecture Tour (2013); the Spain, Luxembourg and Germany Court Architecture Tour (2011); the Victorian Court Architecture Tour in Melbourne (2009) and the International and European Courts Executive Research Tour (2008).
Emma has made over 20 presentations at public conferences, symposia and events, with many of them being invited presentations. Highlights include:
- Rowden, E. (2021). ‘Space, Thresholds and Interfaces’ Panel member. Criminal Justice Webinar: Access, Architecture, and Aspirations in a Post Covid-19 Future, Invited presentation at the Cambridge Centre for Criminal Justice, University of Cambridge, 26 Jan, 2021.
- Rowden, E. (2021). ‘Remote Hearings: Judges and Witnesses appearing onscreen’. Invited Presentation. Presented at the Singapore International Commercial Court Conference 2021. 12-13 Jan 2021 (12 Jan).
- Mulcahy, L. and Rowden, E. (2020). ‘The Missing Voice of Government Lawyers’, ACelebration of the life of Philip Lewis Symposium. Wolfson College, Oxford, 10 Mar 2020. Proceedings subsequently published in the Journal of the Legal Profession.
- Mulcahy, L. and Rowden, E. (2020). ‘Virtual Justice’. Wolfson College Lecture Series 2019-2020, Wolfson College, Oxford, 5 Mar 2020.
- Stein, J.A. & Rowden, E. (2017). ‘Talking spatial memory: Workers, inmates and institutional buildings’. Presented at the Oral History Australia Conference, Sydney: 13–16 Sep 2017 (16 Sep 2017).
- Rowden, E. (2017). ‘Experiencing Court: accessing the voice of lay users’. Invited presentation at the Space of Justice Symposium, La Trobe University, Melbourne: 5–7 Jul 2017 (7 Jul 2017).
- Mulcahy, L. & Rowden, E. (2016). ‘Unicorns and Urinals: why do modern courts look the way they do?’ Invited presentation at the Architectures of Law: Courts, Space and Legal Legitimacy Symposium, University of Cambridge, Cambridge: 7 Jul 2016.
- Mulcahy, L. & Rowden, E. (2015). ‘Unicorns and Urinals: Foucauldian methodology and the apparently unimportant minutiae of the Court Design Guides’. Invited presentation at the Sources and Methods in Criminology and Criminal Justice Conference, The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, London: 19 Oct 2015.
- Mulcahy, L. & Rowden, E. (2015). ‘Unicorns and Urinals: why do modern courts look the way they do?’ Invited presentation at The Digital Panoptican Workshop: The History of Crime and the Courts in Three Dimensions, University of Sussex, Brighton: 20 Oct 2015.
- Rowden, E. (2013). ‘A relic of barbarism: attempts to remove the dock from the criminal trial in New South Wales’. Presented at the Evidence of Bodies | Bodies of Evidence Symposium. The Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney: 10 Apr 2013.
- Rowden, E. (2012). ‘The Gateways to Justice Project: operational and design guidelines to help improve video-mediated communications for justice participants’. Invited presentation at the Videoconferencing in Courts Symposium, Institut des Hautes Études sur la Justice, École de Droit de la Sorbonne, Paris: 28 Jun 2012.
- Farbstein, J., Bocchiaro, I. I. I. J., Willard, J. & Rowden, E. (2012). ‘Video Technology and the Transformation of Tomorrow’s Courthouse’. Presented at the Academy of Architecture for Justice, The American Institute of Architects Fall Conference Community Dialogue: Architecture for Justice and Renewal. Toronto Hilton, Ontario, Toronto: 11-13 Oct 2012 (12 Oct 2012).
- Rowden, E. (2009). ‘Virtual Courts: Here, There and Everywhere’. Presented at the Architecture and Justice Conference. Lincoln University, Lincoln: 25–27 Nov 2009 (26 Nov 2009).
Invited Research Projects
- 2018 Courts Services Victoria - Project: Developing a Co-Design Policy Vision for the Design of Courthouses: understanding the needs of court users Role: Lead Investigator (research team included five academics across two institutions).
- 2017 NSW Department of Justice - Project: Framework, foundations and design exemplars for AVL suites in juvenile and adult custody settings. Role: Chief Investigator (Lead Investigator: Dr Rohan Lulham, UTS, collaborating with seven other academics across two institutions).
- 2017 NSW Department of Justice - Project: Initial Environmental Standards for AVL Justice. Role: Chief Investigator (Lead Investigator: Dr Rohan Lulham, UTS, collaborating with seven other academics across two institutions).
Presentations to Peak Bodies and Government Departments and Agencies
Emma has also been invited to give presentations or act as a research consultant to several peak bodies and government departments, including the NGO pressure groups The Howard League for Penal Reform and JUSTICE, as well as the Ministry of Justice (UK), the NSW Justice Department and the Australian Court Administrators Group.
Emma has experience in architectural practice, predominantly working for the studio of Diane Jones at PTW Architects (Sydney, Australia). Here she worked mainly on projects in the following sectors: heritage, justice environments, hospitals, age-in-place developments and international competitions (including the finalists round of the Barangaroo development).
Press, publicity and reviews
- Alexia Attwood (2013) 'Higher quality court videolinks will improve justice outcomes: study', The Conversation, http://theconversation.com/higher-quality-court-videolinks-will-improve-justice-outcomes-study-15453