Professor Robert Brown

Professor Robert Brown

Professor of Architecture

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

Robert can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Architecture
  • Cultural identity and architecture
  • Urban regeneration
  • Community development
  • Architectural pedagogy


Like the Beach Boys, I get around. My personal and professional life have been informed by mostly being somewhere else, having worked as an architect, educator and/or research in over 20 countries and lived in 4. This experience has impressed upon me that I am the other, and that crucial in whatever I do is the need to move beyond my own a priori ways of engaging with and thinking about the world and others in it, and through dialogue open up to other's discourses.


Chartered Architect, Architects Registration Board, UK
Registered Architect, State of Illinois, USA
Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy

Work Experience
2005- BT Studio - Private practice and consultant work
2001 - 2005 Max Lock Centre, University of Westminster, London: Research Assistant for urban design / planning consultancy group
1996 Housing International, Pune, India: Secondment to Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority; Collaboration with Shelter Associates on social housing projects
1989 - 2001 Levitt Bernstein Associates, London: Position: Associate, Specialising in social housing / urban regeneration / community consultation
1986 - 1989 Tigerman McCurry Architects, Chicago, Illinois: Project architect / designer on housing, commercial and institutional projects
1984 - 1985 Bradley & Bradley Architects, Rockford, Illinois  

Teaching Experience
2017 - Visiting Professor, City University of Macau Royal Institute of British Architects 
2002 - University of Plymouth Chartered Architect, Architects Registration Board, UK
1997 - 2002 University of East London 
1997 - 2002 University of Westminster 

Visiting Professor, City University of Macau (2017-)
Visiting Professor, Jiangnan University (2016)
Visiting Professor, Pavia University (2014)

Visiting critic / lecturer at: Aoyama Gakuin University (Japan), Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Marine Transport (Egypt), Cardiff University, Carleton University (Canada), Gdansk Technical University, Jiangnan University (China), Kobe University, Riga Technical University, Saveetha College of Art and Design (India), Suzhou University, Tama University of the Arts (Japan), Tongji University (China), University of Central England, University College for the Creative Arts (Canterbury), University of East London, University of Innsbruck, University of Westminster

Master of Architecture, University of Illinois
Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies, University of Illinois
National Certificate in Tenant Participation, Institute of Housing

Professional membership

Royal Institute of British Architects

Roles on external bodies

I have served on the following bodies:

Architectural Humanities Research Association Steering Committee
Association of Architectural Educators
Charette Editorial Board
European Architectural History Network Review Panel
Institute for Sustainable Solutions Research Board Plymouth University) Steering Group
Open House International Referee Panel
Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory (Plymouth University) Steering Group
Plymouth City Council Housing Strategy Advisory Group
RIBA Fellows Committee
RIBA National Council
RIBA Research Grants Committee (Chair)
RIBA Validation Panel Standing Conference of Heads of Schools of Architecture
Strutton Housing Association Board Member
Invited referee for various journals and conferences



Teaching interests

Current work in the Master of Architecture Design Studio which I lead is set in the context of live urban regeneration projects and spaces of liminality. In these projects we work collaboratively with the local community (e.g., community based organisations, local authorities, social enterprises), private practices and developers, and other disciplines within the university (e.g., Fine Arts, Medicine). This work explores the potential of dialogic urban programs which enable synergies across difference. Over the past four years M Arch students have won nine prizes in the international Creative Conscious Awards, including two Golds, 4 silvers, 2 bronzes and 1 Honourable Mention.

Staff serving as external examiners


Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Marine Transport 
University College London (BSc Architecture)
University of Kent (M Arch)

Anglia Ruskin University (BSc Architecture)
University of Lincoln School of Architecture (Master of Architecture)
Central St. Martins (External Advisor to candidate Master of Architecture)



Research interests

I am interested in a dialogical understanding of, and the potential of dialogue in the context of:
Socio-Cultural Identity in relation to Place
Urbanism (dialogical urbanism; urban regeneration; community participation)
Architectural Pedagogy

Other research

2001- 2005 University of Westminster, London: Research Assistant Department for International Development (UK) funded research on community development in Eastern / Southern Africa

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

PhD Students:

As DoS: 2

As 2nd Supervisor: 1

Grants & contracts

Plymouth University Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory Research Award
Plymouth University Pedagogic Research Institute and Observatory Research Award
University of Plymouth Research Award
TQEF Research-Informed Teaching Award, Higher Education Funding Council of England
Centre for Education in the Built Environment: Commissioned study on learning one subject through another
Daiwa Foundation
Sasakawa Foundation
Japan 21 Foundation
Teaching Fellowship Award, University of Plymouth
Quality in Learning and Teaching Research Award, University of East London
RIBA Trust Research Award (with D. Moreau)

Creative practice & artistic projects

2010 'The Purposes of Drawing', invited group exhibition, May, Cube3 Gallery
Private practice



2019 Brown, R. and Warwick, P., 'Civic Learning in Conversation: The common ground of difference', "Dialogical Pedagogies", special issue of Thinking Skills and Creativity.

2018 Latham, Z., and Brown, R., 'Shenzen's Urban Villages: Dialogical cultural landscapes and resilient rituals', Socio.Hu, 6, doi: 10.18030/SOCIO.HU.2018EN.51

2018 Long, Z., Guogiang, S, Yao. W, Brown R., Tian C., and Chenyu W., 'Urban Form, Growth and accessibility in Space and Time: Anatomy of Land Use at the Parcel-Level in a Small to Medium-Sized American City, Sustainability, 10 (12), 4572; doi: 10.3390/su10124572

2014 'Transgressing Origins - Dialogical narratives in contemporary Japanese architecture', in D. Littlefield and L. Rice, eds., AHRA Critiques: Critical Studies in Architectural Humanities. London: Routledge, pp. 137 - 154.

2014 'The Schmitt Problem - Some perspectives for a praxis of inclusive disjunction', in K. Nawratek, et. al,, eds., Radical Inclusivity, Barcelona: dpr barcelona, 

2013 ‘Emplacement, Embodiment and Ritual: Some considerations from shikii wo matagu for our understanding of place and identity', in S. Bandyopadhyay and G. Garma-Montiel, eds., The Territories of Identity: Architecture in the Age of Evolving Globalisation. Taylor and Francis.

2013 'Facilitating Creative Thinking Through Play', Robert Brown and Patrick Clark, Field, Vol. 5 No. 1, November [Online] Available at 5                 

2012 'A Critique of Origins, or, the Case of Palimpsest' in M. Miles and J. Savage, eds.,Nu-topia – a critical view of future cities. Plymouth: University of Plymouth Press.

2012 'Concepts of Vernacular Architecture', (with D. Maudlin), in G. Crsyler, H. Heynen and S. Cairns, eds., Handbook of Architectural Theory. London: Sage.

2011 'The Elusiveness of Culture', in Engaging in Architectural Education. London: London Metropolitan University.

2011 ‘The City as Palimpsest: Towards the Sustainable City’, in Sustainable Cities, special issue of Open House International

2011 ‘You Can't Go Home Again: The place of tradition in "Firefly's" dystopian-utopia and utopian-distopia', in Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, Spring. Jeffrey Cooke Prize (Honourable Mention) for outstanding research by the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (UoC, Berkeley).

2011 ‘Mapping the Unmappable, Knowing the Unknowable’, in C. Ulrik Anderson and G. Cox, eds., Public Interfaces. Aarhus: Aarhus University.

2010 'Andrejsala is not an Island - Joined-up approaches to the layered city', in U. Bratuskins, et. al., eds., Architecture and Planning - The Scientific Journal of Riga Technical University. Riga: Riga Technical University

2008 'Redefining the Edge', in N. AlSayyad, ed., Reinventing Traditions for the Modern World - Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Working Paper Series, Vol. 211

2008 'My Kind of Town - A study in representing the city', in R. Lucas and G. Muir, eds., Sensory Urbanism Proceedings 2008, Edinburgh: The Flaneur Press

2007 ‘Learning through Ritual’, in Transactions, Vol. 4, No. 1, April, pp. 55 – 72, [Online], Available at

2006 ‘Don’t Forget the Critical in Critical Regionalism’, in J. Odgers, F. Samuel and A. Sharr, eds., Primitive – Original Matters in Architecture, Abingdon: Routledge

2005 The Rough Guide to Community Asset Management (with R. Kalra and M. Theis), London: MLC Press

2005 ‘Community Asset Management’, Open House International special issue, guest editor (with Dr. Michael Theis)

2004 ‘The Social Environment of Learning’, in Enhancing Curricula, A. Davies, ed., London: University of the Arts

2002 ‘Finding Your Way in the Dark’, (with D. Moreau), Shared Visions Conference, Brighton University; ‘Finding Your Way in the Dark’ [Online] Available at

2002 ‘Communicating Desire’, in C. Gandelsonas, ed., Communicating for Development, London: ITDG Publishing

2001 ‘Between Myth and Reality: The self-image of the architect’, (with D. Moreau) in N. Caglar, ed., Re-Integrating Theory and Design, Leuven, Belgium: EAAE

2001 Involving Tenants in the Design Process (with Levitt Bernstein and Rod Laird) London: The Housing Corporation

2000 ‘Through the Looking Glass’, (with D. Moreau), in Research By Design, Delft, the Netherlands: DUP Satellite

2000 ‘The Search for a New Paradigm for Practice and Education’, (with D. Moreau) in S. Scrivener, L. Ball, A. Woodcock, eds.,  Collaborative Design, London: Springer-Verlag

2000 ‘Seeing the World through another Person’s Eyes’, (with D. Moreau), in D. Nicol and S. Piling, eds., Changing Architectural Education, London: E & FN Spon

1998 ‘Design Games: Community Participation in Urban Design’, Urban Design Quarterly No. 65, January

1997 ‘Personalisation Made Easy: Use of the Computer to Facilitate Personalisation by the Individual User in User-participatory Design’, in Open House International, Vol 22 No 1, March




Reports & invited lectures

2018 'Beyond Blade Runner - A dialogic of the everyday in Macau's Fictional Landscape', European Association of Urban History Conference Urban Renewal and Resilience, Rome Tre University 

2018 'Battling the Waves - The need for some camouflage', invited lecture at Macau International Conference on Marine Administration, Utilization and Development, Special Regional Administrative Government of Macau'
2017 'Bakhtin, Coin Street, Firefly and Neighbourliness', AHRA 14th Annual Conference Festival, Architecture & the City, Birmingham City University 
2017 'Working with Difference - Possibilities for a dialogical architecture', XVI International Bakhtin Conference Bakhtin in the Post-Revolutionary Era, Fudan University, Shanghai
2017 'Bacheland, Besson and Bakhtin: A dialogical discourse on the potential of intimate space', Future Imperfect Conference, University of Plymouth
2015 'Finding Self in the Other - Japanese-ness in Western Architecture', Architecture of Alterity Conference, Edinburgh University
2013 'Multipli-city: working with the potential of convergence and divergence', invited lecture at Pavia University 
2013 Invited panel member, Architectural Theory in an Expanded Field Symposium, University College London 'Simultaneous Situational Ambiguity', Architectural and Phenomenology Conference, Kyoto Seika University.
2013 'Escape from New York - The abuses of disorder and the need for (some) order', Interface Lecture Series, Plymouth University
2012 'It's Not What You Think - a dialectic of affordance and sensibilities', keynote talk, Spatial Thinking 2 Conference, Innsbruck University
2011 'Secret Labour - Legitimacy and Creativity', Presenting Le Corbusier - Aspects of the Life, Work and Influence Symposium, Plymouth University
2011 '(Re)Inventing Tradition - sensibility and habitus in the architecture of Japan's new generation, Fixed Conference, University of Plymouth.
2011 'Mapping the Unmappable, Knowing the Unknowable', Public Interfaces Symposium, Aarhus University.
2010 'A Dialectic of Inside and Outside', The Post-Socialist City Does Not Exist Symposium, University of Gdansk.
2010 'Performance and Palimpsest: Reconstructing National Identity in the Landscape of Riga, Latvia', Architecture, Design and Nation Conference, Nottinham Trent University.
2010 'Palimpsest - A challenge to authenticity and authority in architecture', The Cultural Role of Architecture Conference, Lincoln University.
2010 'The City as Palimpsest - A tactical manifesto', invited lecture at Carleton University.
2009 '3 Cities, 3 Ports, 1 Paradigm', Contesting the City Symposium, University of Latvia.
2009 'Simultaneous Situational Ambiguity', Architectural and Phenomenology Conference, Kyoto Seika University.
2007 'Fighting it out over Utopia', Utopian Studies Conference, University of Plymouth.
2005 'The Life of Buildings', invited lecture at Cardiff University.
2005 'Ritual Practices', Territorial Practices Conference, Clemson University.
2005 'The Dancer, The Architect, The Designer and The Shrine', UIA 2005 Conference, Istanbul.
2004 'Be Careful What Lessons You Think You Are Learning', invited lecture at Cardiff University.
2004 'Don’t Forget the Critical in Critical Regionalism', Primitive Conference, Cardiff University .
2002 'Finding Your Way in The Dark' (with D. Moreau), Shared Visions Conference, Brighton University.
2002 'Be Careful What Lessons You’re Learning', Mind the Map: The Third International Conference on Design History and Design Studies, Istanbul.
2001 'Where Have You Gone Joe Dimaggio? Environment-behaviour studies and its absent place in architectural education' (with D.Moreau), Architectural Education Exchange 2001, Cardiff University.
2000 'Teaching, Perceiving, Communicating' (with D. Moreau), Architectural Education Exchange 2000, Sheffield University.


Conferences organised

2013 'AAE 2013', Association of Architectural Educators Conference (Referee panel)

2011 'Fixed? Architecture, Incompleteness and Change', University of Plymouth

Other academic activities

Visiting lecturer / guest critic at: Aoyama Gakuin University (Japan), Cardiff University, Carleton University, Gdansk Technical University, Jiangnan University (China), Kobe University, Riga Technical University, Tama University of the Arts (Tokyo), Tongji University (China), University of Central England, University of the Creative College of Arts (Canterbury), University of East London, University of Innsbruck, University of Westminster

Visiting Professor, City University of Macau (2017-)
Visiting Professor, Jiangnan University (2016)
Visiting Professor, Pavia University (2014)

PedRIO Fellow