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 Menatalla Kasem

Menatalla Kasem

Research student, Welsh School of Architecture

1.40, Bute Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB


I am a PhD student at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. My academic background includes a BSc and MSc in Architecture Engineering from Zagazig University, as well as an interior design diploma from the American University in Cairo. My research activities focus on the relationship between architecture and its users, particularly disabled users. I am deeply committed to the principles of inclusive design and believe that every person, regardless of their ability, should have access to spaces that are functional, safe, and beautiful.

As an architecture educator, I have been privileged to teach in both the United Kingdom and Egypt, reflecting upon the cultural difference between the two contexts. My passion towards inclusive design is reflected in my teaching as I inspire and mentor the next generation of future architects towards creating inclusive designs. As an architectural professional, I have experience in a diverse range of projects, from interior design to urban design. In addition, I have a unique experience working in the third sector to support the self-advocacy of people with learning disability. Following my passion, and reflecting upon my research activities and  teaching.

In summary, I am a multifaceted architect who is dedicated to creating spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional and accessible for all. Whether teaching, researching or consulting, I am committed to pushing the boundaries of the cultural concepts of disability and challenging the inefficient codes and regulations. And I always look forward to continuing to make a positive impact on the built environment.

- Welsh School of Architecture Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) committee member.
- Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA) Research Student Symposium 2023 committee member.
- PGR Exhibition Lead 2022 and 2023.


Research interests

I have always been interested in the relationship between the people and the buildings, and how they interact with them. Listening and engaging with people have always been my favourite part of the research. This led me in my M.Sc. to study the effect of smart buildings on the employees' satisfaction, my thesis titled " Buildings Automation System Impact on Internal Environment: Office Buildings' User Satisfaction as Case Study". Now in my PhD research, I am looking into how public buildings can be more friendly for people with learning disabilities based on their perspective, as the research's main focus is the prioritization of people with learning disabilities in shaping the built environment they use every day.

As the voice of people with a learning disability is vital for my PhD research, a collaboration was made with Cardiff People First, which is a self-advocacy and community advocacy organisation, that is run by and for people with a learning disability in Cardiff. Moreover, a co-researcher Zarah Kaleem was recruited to support the research accessibility and facilitate communication.


Interactive Architecture for People with Learning Disabilities: Utilizing Co-Design to Move Toward Equitable Public Buildings

Architecture deals with a wide spectrum of users, to fulfil these varied perspectives on using buildings, the users can participate in the design process as experts/experienced users. This includes people with learning disabilities, as they can be incorporated into the design process as experts in accessibility and disability issues. Unfortunately, this is not the norm, people with learning disabilities are usually spoken of rather than spoken to or with. Their unique cognitive profile, and limited communication skills, have resulted in a lack of studies involving them. Consequently, their experiences are not heard, and their needs are unexplored. Yet, to truly reach inclusive designs their participation in the design processes is necessary as it has proven of real value to the general design knowledge because they can indicate a wide range of accessibility issues. Therefore, there is a need to change the conventional model of the design process to be transcended to involve their perspective concretely.

My research evolved through my perspective -as an architectural professional and educator embedded in the third sector- and interaction with the learning disability community, supported by a co-researcher with a learning disability. It describes a three-phase study with people with learning disabilities as active participants, the first is semi-structured interviews, the second is walking interviews, and 3)Design workshops. They aim to 1) understand their preferences and pattern in using public buildings, 2) understand the impact of different architectural elements and spatial characteristics on them, 3) investigate how they experience their environment, 4) and explore the barriers they face in public buildings, and 5) propose accessible solutions for people with learning disabilities.

Funding source

Egyptian Government


Dr Sam Clark

Dr Sam Clark



Dr Dikaios Sakellariou

Reader: Disability Studies and Occupational Therapy