Miss Olasumbo Olaniyi

Miss Olasumbo Olaniyi

School of Art, Design and Architecture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)



Olasumbo Olaniyi is a Candidate Architect and Researcher pursuing a PhD in Architecture in the Justice and Imagination in Global Displacement (JIGD) Group at the School of Art, Design and Architecture. Before starting her doctoral studies, she worked as a researcher for unique and pioneering organizations like RUBANOffice and African Futures Institute in Nigeria and Ghana respectively while volunteering for both the Slum Art Foundation, and UrbanBetter - Cityzen4CleanAir campaign in Nigeria. Olasumbo has a background in Architecture, Architectural Technology and Urban Management.


  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Architecture (In View) - School of Arts, Design and Architecture, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom 
    • Working Thesis Title: The informal settlement named Gangare: a space of refuge, action and production under the supervision of Dr Sana Murrani and Dr Ricky Burke 
  • Certificate in Shaping Urban Futures - Indian Institute for Human Settlements, India (2023)
  • Post-graduate Diploma (PGDip) in Urban Management - Institute for Housing and Development Studies, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands (2021)
  • Master of Technology (MTech.) in Architectural Technology - Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg, South Africa (2018-2020)
  • Certificate in Sustainable Architecture and Entrepreneurship - College of Art, University of Lincoln, United Kingdom (2014)
  • Bachelor of Technology (BTech Honours) in Architecture - Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria (2010-2015)
Work experience:
10.2023: Teaching Assistant/Tutor, Department of Architecture, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom
01.2022 – 08.2023: Research Facilitator (The Built Environment) and Operations Lead (Remote), RUBAN Office (African Contemporary Institute of Design), Nigeria
10.2022 – 11.2023: Researcher (Remote), La Biennale di Venezia, Italy
03.2022 – 10.2022: Architectural Researcher (Hybrid), African Futures Institute, Ghana
01.2021 – 12.2021: Research Lead (Architecture/Development Planning), RUBAN Office (African Contemporary Institute of Design), Nigeria
11.2018: Architectural Exhibition Assistant, Graduate School of Architecture, South Africa
08.2017 – 12.2017: Creative Designer / Freelancer, Raboni Stitches, Nigeria
04.2016 – 04.2017: Junior Architect and Secretary, Uqwanda Properties Limited, Nigeria
07.2014 – 01.2015: Intern Architect, Fola Alade Associates, Nigeria
Voluntary experience:
09.2022 – 08.2023: Data Scientist, Run Leader and Facilitator, Urban Better, Nigeria
2020 – 2022: Project Manager and Member, Slum Art Foundation, Nigeria
12.2021: Junior Architect and Personal Assistant(PA) to the Managing Partner, James Cubbitt Interiors, Nigeria
2020 –  2022: Creative Advisor / Chief Operating Officer, Alaga Collections, Nigeria
2010 –  2018: Treasurer / Financial Secretary, Camp of a Lifetime (COAL) NGO, Nigeria

Professional membership



Teaching interests

  • critical theory
  • spatial justice
  • African Studies
  • design research methods
  • architectural history and theory
  • displacement and,
  • migration


Research interests

Olasumbo Olaniyi is a Candidate Architect and Researcher with over seven years of experience working in various African organizations and research institutes across architecture, urban design, and facilities management. Currently, she is pursuing a fully funded PhD in Architecture in the Justice and Imagination in Global Displacement (JIGD) Cluster at the School of Art, Design and Architecture.
Olasumbo's research interests lie in the spatial manifestation of informality, justice, displacement, and migration in Sub-Saharan Africa. With a background in Architecture, Architectural Technology, and Urban Management, her research focuses on African spatial practices that challenge dichotomies produced by Western architectural theories. She employs analytical mapping, collage-making, and photography incorporating sensitive domains to underscore her diversified practice.
At the undergraduate level, she studied Architecture (BTech Hons) at the Federal University of Technology, Akure. Her research topic "The Use of Earth as a Building Material in Wall Construction in Akure, Ondo State" introduced the significance of adopting sustainable practices within the state's built environment. It also emphasized the public's perception of traditional building materials.
At the postgraduate level, she completed a Master of Technology in Architectural Technology at the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg. In Unit 14, she produced a thesis titled "The People's Control Room: Disrupting the Digital Panopticon" which examined the imbalanced power dynamics between the watched and the watcher in the urban Johannesburg and South African space at large. Through speculative drawings (installations), she articulated the spatial implications of a democratized gaze.
In 2021, she became an alumna of the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS) at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, after completing a PGDip in Urban Management - Good Governance in Complex Contemporary Cities - funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP). 

Grants & contracts

  • Faculty of Art, Humanities and Business (FoAHB) Studentship - University of Plymouth - Roughly £45,000 Awarded yearly for 3 years
  • Orange Knowledge Program (OKP) Scholarship for PGDip - Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands - €10,000 Awarded
  • Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture (FADA), University of Johannesburg Exchange programme with AURA Istanbul, Turkey - R10,920 Awarded – Emerged winner of the writing competition
  • Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture (FADA), University of Johannesburg Student Bursary - R2,600 Awarded
  • 2018 Merit Bursary Award (for accumulating above 70% in Bachelor’s Degree) - R10,970 Awarded

Creative practice & artistic projects

Fighting for clean air in Lagos - BBC Africa
Any, If, May: A text of two cities - A documentary on the implication of legislation on our cities (Sydney and Johannesburg) by Donna Marjan (A voiceover in Yoruba Language)
Trans Manifesto by the Graduate School of Architecture - An Inventory of Feminist Upheaval




Conferences organised

Conferences attended (most recent)
  • Places for Pace organised by the Office for Place and Ocean Media at the Catalyst Building, Staffordshire University sponsored by the University of Plymouth's Policy Engagement T&S Funding - 18th-19th March 2024.
  • Alexandre Oliver, Ffion Middleton, Rania Saddiqe and Olasumbo Olaniyi. Presentation on "how to reduce inequalities with the support of real estate" at the inaugural MIPIM Challenger Conference (partly sponsored) by MIPIM, Cannes, France - 15th March 2024.
  • “On your marks, get set, clean air” presentation at the Participatory Air Quality Improvement for Healthy People and climate-resilient public spaces in Lagos
  • “Surveillance and Other Civic Institutions” presentation an excerpt from the Masters' Project – “The People’s Control Room: Disrupting the Digital Panopticon” acknowledged in Huda Tayob (2021) Conversation Rooms: Critical Dialogues in Architectural History and Theory at the GSA, Johannesburg
Workshops attended (most recent)
  • University College of London (UCL) Development Planning Unit Dialogues - DPU70 Dialogues in Development: Housing as a verb: Treasuring the Legacy of John Turner - 17 January 2024
  • FoAHB Place-based seminar: Place, Creativity and Community at the University of Plymouth – 15th November 2023
  • Global Perspectives on Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: A Collaborative Workshop between the University of Plymouth, United Kingdom, and the University of Calabar, Nigeria - 14th – 16th November 2023
  • Atlas of Informal Settlements: Understanding Self-Organized Urban Design Book Talk by Tanzil Shafique and chaired by Jakleen Al-Dalal’a hosted by the Southern Theorising Group (STinG) at the University of Sheffield, UK – 31st October 2023
  • Southern Urbanism Workshop by Jhono Bennett (University College London) and hosted by Unmasking Space - 30th March 2023

Other academic activities

Speaking Invitations
  • Panellist at So What About This (SWAT) Chat 4 by Global Plymouth on “Charting our Climate Future”.
  • Promoting Inclusive Financing for Sustainable Cities - A Youth Climate Change Forum by International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI).
  • “Can Public Transportation and NMT Address Climate Change and Air Quality” organized by Lagos Urban Development Initiative (LUDI).
  • How Innovations in Technology and Storytelling Can Help Us Breakthrough - UN Foundation: Our Future Agenda Speaker: Spotlight Session 5 

Additional information

Online Features