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Hiral Patel

Dr Hiral Patel

Lecturer in Architecture
Director of Engagement

Welsh School of Architecture

+44 29208 70643
Bute Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB
Available for postgraduate supervision


My current research and teaching aim to better understand clients and users of the built environments. I am interested in themes of learning, socio-material practices, holistic building performance and adaptation of buildings.

My PhD research theorises the practices of adapting academic library buildings. Based on this research, my consultancy for Higher Education Design Quality Forum (HEDQF) identified research themes for future learning environments in the higher education sector. Building on this, I am co-creating a research agenda for future learning environments to develop new ways of designing and managing higher education spaces. I also provide consultancy for businesses to develop research-based design approaches, which aligns with my design-research teaching activities.

Through a range of funded projects, I have developed the 'Learning-Space Aligner' framework to better align learning and space, which I am piloting with university partners and in workplaces.

My research on workplaces involved curating the  DEGW archive and exploring the linkages between organisational practices and the built environment to help understand the changing nature of ‘work’. Based on this, I am currently co-authoring the third edition of 'Integrative Briefing for Better Design'.

Since August 2022, I have taken on the role of Director of Engagement at the Welsh School of Architecture. My work in this role will build on the Engaged Scholarship methodology that I have tested in my research and teaching.












Adrannau llyfrau









Funding successes

Funding up to £500,000

  • I am leading a research project (Oct 23 - Sep 24), along with co-investigators Katherine Quinn (School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University) and Fiona Duggan (FiD Space), focused on social learn space typologies on university campuses.  As part of this project funded by the University Design Forum, Association of University Directors of Estate and Willmot Dixon, we will conduct qualitative research and develop a design and management guide.
  • I was successful in obtaining funding as a co-Project Investigator for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with colleagues in the School of Computer Science in 2021. The industrial partner was Stride Treglown Architects, based in Wales. The project involved two Associate KTPs (one based in the School of Architecture and another based in the School of Computer Science) running concurrently for two years to develop a qualitative post-occupancy evaluation dashboard based on machine learning techniques.  Unfortunately, the project was unable to proceed due to market and industry circumstances.
  • Related to my involvement in teaching on the MArch 1 Reflective Practice Module during 2020/21, Caroline Almond and I from the Welsh School of Architecture collaborated with Yun Yun Herbet from Ty Banc Canal Group who led a successful funding application for the Welsh Government Coronavirus Recovery Grant for Volunteering 2020/21.  As part of this project, MArch 1 students collaborated with Ty Banc Canal Group for their work-based learning module to gain valuable work experience. The aim of the project was to recognise the value of creating partnerships to support and develop a strategy for a community partnership in the voluntary sector using the Neath Canal Restoration as the catalyst. More details regarding the partnership can be found in the casestudy here (pp. 30-32).

Funding up to £50,000

  • Shape My School (Ongoing 2023-24). Myself, Kelly Butt and student ambassadors from the Welsh School of Architecture will be collaborating with Cardiff Council to create and deliver a range of classroom activities for primary schools in Cardiff. This project will be delivered alongside Shape My Street project.  
  • Enabling pilot projects to apply and enhance the ‘Learning-Space Aligner’ tool, funded by HEFCW "Innovation for all” grant, PI for the project, May 2022
  • Future University Campus – Preparing for post-Covid-19 scenarios¸ PI for the project, May 2021, ESRC Impact Accelerator Grant – Cardiff University
  • University spaces for learning through life in the fourth industrial revolution¸ PI for the project, January 2021, ESRC Impact Accelerator Grant – Cardiff University
  • Named researcher in a successful funding application to the University of Reading Endowment Fund in 2017 for the DEGW archive project
  • Doctoral Training Studentship to undertake PhD at the University of Reading, funded by EPSRC for 3.5 years, April 2012

Funding up to £2,000

  • Future University Campus: Reimagining Lecture Theatres, On-campus internship fund, Cardiff University, June 2021
  • University of Reading Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP), PI for the project ‘Smart cities in making – A comparative study of Indian and UK cities’, June 2019
  • University of Reading Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP), Co-I for the project ‘Curating a collection: Capturing the story of John Worthington’s collection’, June 2018
  • The University of Reading Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives fund for supporting Fundamental: Users seminar series, May 2018
  • University of Reading’s Heritage and Creativity Institute funding for the DEGW Action Lab
  • University of Reading Endowment Fund for supporting the April 2017 workshop for the DEGW archive project


  • Stride Treglown Architects, September 2020.
  • Higher Education Design Quality Forum, Future of the learning environments, June 2019.


I teach on the topics of design research, building performance, reflective practice and qualitative research methods.

For my design research teaching on university learning environments, visit Learning Environments Design Research Laboratory (LE-DR Lab).


Having trained as an architect from India and practiced in the UK, my work has spanned from research, developing business processes, and managing projects to technical building design. I completed MSc Project Management from the University of Reading, and have provided programme management consultancy to higher education clients. This industry experience has shaped my teaching and research approaches.

Honours and awards

Emerald Best Research Methodology Paper for the paper “Are we looking at the same thing? Multiple methods to frame ‘occupancy’ of a library building” at ARCOM 2019 conference.

Professional memberships

  • Council member: Royal Society of Architects in Wales (2022 - current)
  • Trustee: University Design Forum (2023 - current)

Academic positions

  • 2018-2019: Teaching Fellow, School of Construction Management and Engineering, University of Reading
  • 2017: Academic Reviewer, University College of Estate Management
  • 2016-2018: Post-doctoral Researcher, School of Construction Management and Engineering, University of Reading

Committees and reviewing


  • Steering Group Member - Community Representative: University of Reading Community Engagement Steering Group (2023-24)
  • Committee member: Ecosystem Resilience Biodiversity Action Plan (ERBAP), Cardiff University (2021 - current)
  • Committee member: Construction Excellence (G4C), Berkshire Chapter, (2013-14)


  • Journal reviewer: Construction Management and Economics Journal
  • Journal reviewer: Building Research & Information Journal
  • Journal reviewer: Arch-net IJAR
  • Journal reviewer: Sustainable Cities and Societies
  • Reviewer: RIBA Publishing


Current supervision

Jierui Wang

Jierui Wang

Research student

Hussa Alghunaim

Hussa Alghunaim

Research student

Past projects

  • Amalia Banteli (current): An analysis of embodied carbon considerations in a Building Information Modelling (BIM)-enabled building design process through structuration theory