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Dr Aylin Orbasli

BArch, DPhil

Reader in Architectural Regeneration

Aylin Orbasli

Phone number: 01865 483689


Location: AB310

Aylin Orbasli combines teaching, international consultancy practice and research in ways that enable each to inform the others. Her research-led practice experience in the field of conservation, regeneration and heritage management informs masters and MArchD level teaching, as does her research which frequently draws on data collected and tested through consultancy assignments and student field projects.

Co-founder and former subject coordinator of the Masters in International Architectural Regeneration and Development

Teaching theoretical modules and design studio; supervision of Masters and PhD level research degrees.

Modules taught

Applications in Regeneration (post graduate, theoretical module)

Regeneration and Development Project (post graduate, design studio incorporating field study) 


Currently supervising four PhD students.

PhD students supervised to successful completion:

  • Hee Sook Lee, 2006, The continuity of pre-Islamic motifs in Javanese Mosque ornamentation, Indonesia (second supervisor)
  • Jaturong Pokharatsiri, 2011, Assessing social value in cultural heritage places: A case study of tourism gentrification in Thailand in its regional context (director of studies)
  • Donia Zhang, 2012, Courtyard housing and cultural sustainability: A study of housing renewal and redevelopment in Beijing and Suzhou. (second supervisor)
  • Helen Philips, 2013, Climate change adaptability at English World Heritage Sites (second supervisor)
  • Joaquim Flores, 2014, Willingness to adapting existing buildings to improve their energy performance, the WHS of Porto, Portugal (director of studies)
  • Sofia Aleixo, 2016, Adaptation and extension of historic school buildings and impacts on cultural significance, the case of Lyceo in Portugal (second supervisor)
  • Aliye Mentes, 2016, Impacts of tourism-led regeneration of rural settlements on cultural heritage in Cyprus, Greece and Turkey (director of studies)
  • Deniz Ikiz, 2017, Global Heritage Cities: Managing complexity of cultural World Heritage Sites in Global Cities (director of studies)
  • Alicia Tongon 2015 (visiting student 2014) Making architecture a public concern again: history, memory, identity. PhD by design at Politecnico di Milano (adjunct supervisor)

Following a book on Architectural Conservation (2008) Aylin continues to research conservation theories, including authenticity in the context of reconstruction and rapid urban development and the broadening remit of cultural heritage and regeneration. She is co-editor of a forthcoming volume on Architectural Regeneration, to which she will also be contributing chapters on urban conservation and temporariness in regeneration.

Other current 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; the commercial and political re-invention of heritage as a tourism commodity to define local identity and distinctiveness (e.g. China and UAE). The output for this research is planned as a book, alongside interim journal papers.

An AHRC Newton funded research project in 2016 on community-led heritage regeneration in India was developed on the basis of this research. This collaborative grant provided an opportunity to fully integrate research with design teaching by empowering a small group of students to become co-researchers, undertaking field work and translating findings into design projects that became integrated into the research process. Aylin has a specific interest in the Middle East and Islamic towns, and is currently writing a book chapter on urban tourism in the Middle East. This builds on over 20 years of researching and working in the region.


Research group membership

Place Culture and Identity Research Group

Research grants and awards

British Academy Newton Mobility Grant with Prof Nuray Özaslan (Anadolu University, Turkey) to develop a bid for a larger research grant as well as develop online teaching/research material based on shared research activity to reach a wider audience (impact) through open source facilities hosted by our respective institutions (2016-17)

AHRC/ICHR Newton Bhabha, India network partnership on Community-led Heritage Regeneration in India (2016) 

Oxford Brookes University Central Research Fund grant for research assistance in evaluating data collected in Yanbu Al Bahr, Saudi Arabia (2015)

Santander Partnership Grant for collaboration with the University of Evora, Portugal, including staff and student exchanges and a joint exhibition (2015)

Oxford Brookes University Central Research Fund grant to organise seminar for authors contributing to a book on Architectural Regeneration (2014/15)

International Monuments Trust grant for the development of an online teaching/learning module on heritage management at St Paul’s Cathedral on behalf of ICOMOS-UK, in collaboration with London Metropolitan University (2012/13) 

Seismic upgrading of traditional coral buildings, with King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dammam, Saudi Arabia (2012) 

Economic benefits of World Heritage Site designation to historic towns, collaboration with Tsinghua University, China (2009)

INTACH UK Trust award for student travel, project and exhibition in Jaipur, India (2007)

European Union Euromed Heritage II grant for the TEMPER Project, heritage management at archaeological sites with six European and Mediterranean partner organisations (2002-04) 

RIBA Trust Fund grant for research on ‘Specialisation in Architectural Education’ (1999)

Research projects

The traditional buildings of the Red Sea Coast: origins, construction, cross-cultural influences, conservation and rehabilitation. This research builds on over 10 years of study of the Red Sea coastal settlements of Saudi Arabia and is currently being expanded to cover a wider geographical base to include the African coast as well as influences from respective hinterland areas.  Two outputs have been published to date with another in progress. 

Supported by an AHRC/ICHR Newton Bhabha grant the Community-led Heritage Regeneration in India project was undertaken in collaboration with the Delhi School of Planning and Architecture and a local NGO partner. The project investigated ways in which the underlying Mughal garden heritage could play a role in delivering social and economic wellbeing benefits to residents of the riverfront settlements in Agra (2016) 

Ongoing project to develop online teaching/research material generated from shared research activity to reach a wider audience (impact) through open source facilities. Currently supported by a British Academy Newton Mobility Grant. 


Research impact

My research has contributed to conservation theory, urban conservation theory, theories on the tourism and heritage dialectic and heritage management. My ongoing research will contribute to regeneration theory and theories of temporary urbanism. Alongside academic impacts my research has substantial practice impacts in the fields of heritage management and building conservation, alongside societal, educational and policy impacts.

My research into building conservation has impacted on the practice of conservation. My book Architectural Conservation (2008, Wiley Blackwell) and my research in this field formed the backbone of the RIBA conservation core CPD programme. A jointly edited book, Architectural Regeneration (Wiley Blackwell)  will be a valuable teaching resource.

Societal impacts of my research are evident in the content and focus of my research and the way in which an emphasis in community involvement in regeneration and heritage management is translated into active engagement with local communities during projects.  The organisation of workshops and events to share research outcomes are embedded into research projects, most recently in the form of a community workshop in Agra, India as part of an AHRC funded project.

A European Union funded research project TEMPER (2002-04) generated direct policy impact in the formulation of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s 2005 law on management planning for cultural heritage sites. The policy wording was developed from the project outcomes and I continued to provide capacity building for Ministry personnel and others on the implementation of the policy. The TEMPER project also generated impacts on the practice of heritage management and in positioning management planning in the Easter Mediterranean region, as evidenced by the number of management plans produced in the partner countries and successful nomination of partner/case study sites for World Heritage inscription. As an outcome of the project 20 specifically designed courses in heritage management was delivered in eight countries, with many of the attendees going on to prepare management plans or front heritage management projects.

Further information


  • Orbasli A, Architectural conservation: principles and practice, Blackwell (2008)
    ISBN: 978063204025
  • Orbasli A, Tourists in historic towns. Urban conservation and heritage management, Taylor&Francis (2000)
    ISBN: 978-0419259305
    Abstract Website

Journal articles

  • Orbaşli A, 'Conservation Theory in the 21st century: slow evolution or a paradigm shift?'
    Journal of Architectural Conservation (2017)
    ISSN: 1355-6207 eISSN: 1355-6207
    Abstract Website
  • Orbasli A, 'Nara +20: a theory and practice perspective'
    Heritage and Society 8 (2) (2016) pp.178-188
    ISSN: 2159-032X eISSN: 2159-032X
    Abstract Website
  • 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: 1355-6207 eISSN: 1355-6207
    Abstract Website
  • Orbasli A, 'The Conservation of Coral Buildings on Saudi Arabias Northern Red Sea Coast'
    Journal of Architectural Conservation 15 (1) (2009) pp.49-64
    ISSN: 1355-6207 eISSN: 1355-6207
    Abstract Website
  • 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: 1743-873X eISSN: 1743-873X
    Abstract Website
  • Orbasli A, 'Training Conservation Professionals in the Middle East'
    Built Environment 33 (3) (2007) pp.307-322
    ISSN: 0263-7960 eISSN: 0263-7960
    Abstract Website
  • Orbasli A, Whitbourn P, 'Professional Training and Specialisation in Conservation: An ICOMOS Viewpoint'
    Journal of Architectural Conservation 8 (3) (2002) pp.61-72
    ISSN: 1355-6207 eISSN: 1355-6207
    Abstract Website
  • Orbasli A, 'Is Tourism Governing Conservation in Historic Towns?'
    Journal of Architectural Conservation 6 (3) (2000) pp.7-19
    ISSN: 1355-6207 eISSN: 1355-6207
    Abstract Website

Book chapters

Conference papers

  • Orbasli A, 'The Historic Towns of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Coast: Tourism Development and Conservation'
    (2017) pp.207-227

    Abstract Website
  • Orbasli A, Vellinga M, 'Teaching Architectural Regeneration and Development'
    Oxford Conference: a Re-evaluation of Education in Architecture (2008) pp.161-164
    ISBN: 978-1-84564-206-8


  • Orbasli A, review of World heritage, tourism and identity: inscription and co-production, in International Journal of Heritage Studies (2016)
    ISSN: 1352-7258 eISSN: 1352-7258
  • Orbasli A, review of Living With Heritage in Cairo: Area Conservation in the Arab-islamic City, in International Journal of Heritage Studies 17 (3) (2011) pp.283-284
    ISSN: 1352-7258 eISSN: 1352-7258

Other publications

  • Orbasli A, 'World heritage cities and the economics of tourism: the case of Bath'
    ISSN: eISSN:
  • Orbasli A, 'Re-using existing buildings towards sustainable regeneration'
    ISSN: eISSN:

Areas of expertise

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 Heriage Sites internationally, and conservation planning for Grade I and Grade II* buildings in the UK. The internation focus of her work is mainly the Middle East and the Mediterranean, though she has also worked in Southeast Asia.



Membership of professional bodies

Member, Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC)

Council Member, British Institute at Ankara (BIAA), part of the British Academy

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

International Board Member, International Organisation for Quality Management of Cultural Heritage (HERITY)

RIBA President’s Awards for Research, member of judging panel (2016)

Editorial Advisory Panel member, Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World


‘An architectural legacy of exchange: the making of the Red Sea style’ Red Sea VIII, Warsaw, Poland (2017) - keynote

‘Heritage-led regeneration’ at Adaptive Reuse of Industrial Heritage in Europe and Korea, Urban Regeneration International Symposium, UCL, London (2017)

‘Heritage and Community: tools to engage local communities’ OWHC/UNESCO Workshop on Community and Heritage, Gyeongju, Korea organised by Organisation of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) Asia-Pacific region (2016) - keynote

‘Historic Towns of Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Coast: travellers, pilgrims, architecture and society’, BFSA (British Foundation for the Study of Arabia) Study Day, UCL, London (2015)

‘Tourism at Archaeological Sites: exchanges, encounters and selfies’ Public Archaeology Workshop, BIAA, Istanbul, Turkey (2014) - keynote

‘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) - keynote

‘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), as one of 40 delegates invited to attend the meeting internationally.

‘Archaeological Sites: the visitor experience’, Bridging the Gap Between Museums and Archaeological Sites: Insights for Turkey, International Workshop, Ertegün House, University of Oxford (2014)

‘Heritage and Identity: Tourists in Historic Towns’, Creative Cities as World Heritage Tourism Destinations, ICOMOS ICTC & CIVVIH Round Table Expert Meeting, Florence, Italy (2014)

‘Tourism in Historic Cities: value, experience and authenticity’ Yangon Heritage Trust open lecture, Yangon, Myanmar (2013)

‘The historic town as destination: experience, authenticity and conservation’ Technion & Bezalel Universities joint lecture, Israel (2013)

‘Heritage Protection and Tourism Development in Abandoned Coastal Settlements’ Red Sea VI Conference, Tabuk, Saudi Arabia (2013)

‘Historic towns in Saudi Arabia: conservation and management’ at Managing Heritage: Designing Sustainable Future, Nottingham Trent University College Research Conference also marking the opening exhibition (2013)

‘The historic town as destination: experience, authenticity and conservation’, Cambridge Heritage Research Group, University of Cambridge (2013)

‘Contribution of archaeological site management to regional development’, Heritage in Context, German Institute of Archaeology, Ankara, Turkey (2012)

‘The tale of two management plans: Çatalhöyük and Ani’, Site Management and Privatisation in Cultural Heritage in Turkey, Koç University, Istanbul, Turkey (2012)

‘Principles of the Islamic City: Heritage Conservation and Tourism’ ICUDBE2011, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2011) keynote

‘Tourism, Gentrification and Neighbourhood Renewal’, Conservation and Creativity, Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture (2010)

‘Economic Impact of World Heritage Status: The Case of Bath, UK’ Economic Values of World Heritage Sites, Beijing, China (2010)

‘World Heritage Sites without heritage’, World Heritage for Tomorrow: what, how and for whom, Japanese-German Colloquium, Cottbus, Germany (2010)

‘Conservation and Sustainability’, presentation to State Parties meeting to discuss the Future of the World Heritage Convention, UNESCO, Paris (2009) - keynote


Other experience

The Conservation Practice Architects, London, overseeing conservation and adaptive reuse projects to Grade I listed buildings in and around London.

Institute of Advanced Architectural Studies, University of York as a Research Fellow working on public sector funded research projects, on energy reduction in the housing sector (UK) and architecture and planning education (Dutch Ministry of Housing and Planning).

Further information