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Dr Hiral Patel

Dr Hiral Patel

Lecturer in Architecture

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.


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)

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

Speaking engagements

  • HEDQF student prize, 14-15 July, HEDQF conference 2022 at Cardiff University, presenting student projects from LE-DR lab that were awarded HEDQF student prizes. (Link)
  • PhD Journey: Looking back and looking ahead, 21 June 2022, keynote speaker at the University of Reading PhD conference.
  • Aligning learning and space – a tale of buildings, users and technologies, 16 February 2022, Sheffield Hallam University Space & Place Group +Interdisciplinary Higher Education Research Cluster “Changing Campus” event. (Link)
  • Future of academic library spaces, 3 March 2021, RLUK Digital Shift Forum. (Link)
  • Curating the DEGW Archive as a Living Archive The Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, Annual Symposium 2020, ARCH/TECTURES ARCH/VES 2: Practice/Pedagogy, 14 August 2020 (Link).

Committees and reviewing


  • 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












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).

Funding successes

Funding up to £500,000

  • 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.

Funding up to £50,000

  • 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.


Current supervision

Amalia Banteli

Amalia Banteli

Research student

Jierui Wang

Research student