Place, Culture and Identity

About us

Space and architecture are shaped by the culture and the identities of communities as much as those communities are shaped by their perception and use of space and architecture. 

Members of the group investigate this dynamic dialectical relationship from different disciplinary perspectives, including (interior) architecture, anthropology, urban conservation and history. 

Focusing on different types and notions of place in various parts of the world and contexts, the aim of the Place, Culture and Identity group is to contribute to a better theoretical understanding of both the nature of the process of place-making and the way it relates to aspects of culture, identity, aesthetics, memory, tradition, representation and architectural practice. While focused on theory, much of this research is grounded in practice and the communities that it serves.

More about our research themes

Front of a building

Related courses

Research impact

Women looking at an exhibition

The research of the group makes a significant academic impact in a range of fields and disciplines, including architecture, vernacular architecture studies, urban conservation and regeneration, heritage studies, conservation and adaptive re-uses, architectural and urban history, biodiversity and food production within the built environment. Group members are actively engaged in the dissemination of their research outcomes to wider audiences via exhibitions, social media platforms and open access databases. Some research is specifically embedded in communities of interest through processes of engagement, empowerment, co-creation and knowledge transfer.  


Aylin Orbasli

Professor Aylin Orbasli

Professor of Architectural and Urban Heritage

View profile



Name Role Email
Philip Baker Senior Lecturer in Architecture
Professor Aylin Orbasli Professor of Architectural and Urban Heritage
Dr Francesco Proto Senior Lecturer in Architecture
Dr Kelly Reed Programme Manager Endangered Wooden Architecture Programme
Dr Emma Rowden Senior Lecturer
Dr Mina Samangooei Senior Lecturer in Architecture
Orit Sarfatti Senior Lecturer
Professor Marcel Vellinga Professor of Anthropology of Architecture
Dr Julia Wedel Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Subject Coordinator International Architectural Regeneration and Development


Completed projects

Project title and description Investigator(s) Funder(s) Dates

Community-led Heritage Regeneration in India

Professor Aylin Orbasli AHRC

Maggie’s Cancer Centres

The research team focus on the Maggie’s Centres buildings, their internal organisation and social interaction in order to assess the positive therapeutic impact of architecture in the context of a cancer support programme that aims to empower patients beyond traditional hospital settings.

Dr Andrea Placidi From: September 2017
Until: March 2022

Building Sumud

An action-research initiative focusing on the occupation of space and on acts of resilience adopted by Old City Hebronites in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

Dr Brigitte Piquard From: September 2011

Observatory of Symbolic Violence

Created to support organisations working mainly with displaced and marginalised populations in the West Bank and in the coffee production regions of the Valle del Cauca and Afro-descendants of the Pacific and Caribbean coastal areas of Colombia. Through a participatory process of action research and learning, the project aims to interact with the impacts of stigma and the peoples’ modes of resilience. It runs in partnership with CERAR France.

Dr Brigitte Piquard From: September 2014

Urban Affordance

Orit Sarfatti

Our research themes

Anthropology of Architecture

Research and projects in the field of anthropology of architecture set out to provide an understanding of the social and cultural importance of architecture, as well as of the characteristics of an anthropological approach to its study. Special emphasis is placed on the study of vernacular architecture around the world.

Histories of People and Places

Research being undertaken under this theme investigates the relationship between people and places from a variety of historical perspectives, focusing on the work of individual scholars as well as particular places and time periods, and their influences on theory.

Urban Conservation and Regeneration

Research being undertaken in the urban conservation and regeneration field includes a range of projects on the conservation, adaptation, regeneration and management of the historic built environment in its multiple forms and communities. This theme also takes a more in-depth look at biodiversity and food production within the built environment, particularly from a physical and mental well-being perspective.

Cultures of Architecture and Space

Research in this area covers investigations into the various cultures of architecture and its attendant spaces. These range from investigations into public infrastructure (with a focus on courthouses as a particular case study), as well the cultural spaces of the education and practice of architects.